our church is looking for a new pastor & has called a candidate to come & spend the week here, preaching, teaching, getting to know us & us know him & his family through various activities. tonight rather than just prayer meeting, he taught a lesson on prayer & then we had a time of corporate prayer. lots of people came who don't normally come. even though it was a good time of teaching, learning & prayer, & i was glad there were LOTS of people there, i couldn't help but think that i missed the intimate, deep prayer time that the FEW of us have on a typical wednesday!
WHY are we never satisfied?!
i was thinking to myself, "this is really good teaching, but we need to have the teaching on 1 night & the prayer time on it's own night. BUT ALL the people need to come to both!!!!"
he said a couple things that i struggle with. i wish i could have asked for clarification, but he went RIGHT into prayer time - no "do you have any questions?" no comment time. i wanted to ask a couple questions, but in the middle of prayer requests just didn't seem like the place to do it.
1. God always answers our prayers. i agree with that. but he went on to say, "God always answers our prayers with 'Yes.' it may be, 'yes, you can have what you have asked for' or 'yes, you can have even better than what you asked for.'" he never said sometimes God says 'wait' or 'no.' that's what i've always been taught. i can accept the "wait" or "no" because i think sometimes God wants us to wait - He has something to teach us through the waiting or what we are asking for isn't in His will, so He says no. i wanted to ask the pastor if he thought that way too & just didn't say it or if he truly thinks there are only 2 yes answers.
2. he said God only speaks to us through scripture. i have heard many pastors say that. i have a real problem with it. yes, i do believe God talks to us through His Word, the Bible. but i also believe He "talks" to us in other ways.....call it the Holy Spirit, call it God talking to us, aren't They One & the Same?.......doesn't the Holy Spirit put thoughts in our minds & hearts - thoughts that are in alignment to what we have been praying - thoughts that "seem" like the answer? - thoughts of scripture that address the issue? ......what about when we read a devotional that just FITS what we have been praying about or struggling with? there's scripture in that devotional. this happens to me ALL the time.
tonight while driving home from work i was thinking about this very thing! was that God or the Holy Spirit directing my thoughts, was God talking to me during that time? i have quite a few issues that i'm struggling with right now. i pray about them daily. we've been praying about some of them at prayer meeting for a long time. these prayers haven't yet been answered, or they've been answered with, "wait a little longer, I've got more to teach you." i honestly don't think God has answered them with "no" & he hasn't answered them with "yes" yet either! but i have to keep praying & keep hoping & keep trusting. and God promises to answer & He promises to give me the best that He has for me but my faith has to be strong. satan is having a hay-day! he knows where i'm weak & is attacking me.
a couple days ago my p31w devotional was about a hopeful future - the devotional went right along with my bedtime prayers the night before.
last night while praying i wrote in my prayer journal that i needed to TRUST God more.
today's p31w devotional was about trusting God.
is God not talking to me, reassuring me through these devotionals, that He is in control, that He hears my prayers & that He & i just need to work on it all a little more????? is He not giving me scripture verses that fit so perfectly that i say, "thank you God, that is exactly what i needed to hear."
and while i'm thinking about it, i struggle with the fact that some people's "prayers" seem to get answered right away - the same prayers i'm praying - but mine don't seem to be being answered at all. do i give up? nope! i keep on praying. but the timing just doesn't seem fair - i was telling this to God last night! in today's devotional it talked about how mary & martha wanted Jesus to come when lazarus was sick & dying. but He waited & didn't come until lazarus was already dead so that He could do a miracle & He would be glorified in the end. just like my prayers - i have to hope & trust that God WILL answer someday & then He will be glorified!!! but then i think, "yeah, but mary & martha only had to wait 2 days......"!!!!!!! HOPE. TRUST. He's gonna do GREAT things!! makes me think of what He says in habakkuk 1:5 "be astonished! wonder! because I am doing something in your days -- you would not believe if you were told."
is that not Him talking to me?????
people say God doesn't use "signs" anymore. really? but He's gonna at the end of the world, right? doesn't it say in the gospels & in Revelation that the sun & moon will be a sign? i think He uses them today still. 15 years ago this week i drove into the parking lot of a christian bookstore where there was a "now hiring" sign in the front window. (that's NOT the kind of sign i'm talking about!!!!) i went inside, went directly to the counter & asked about the job. i was handed an application & told to hurry & fill it out. when i pressed for more details, the man told me that the job had been advertised for about 2 weeks & no one had applied. no one??? i asked if i could return the application later & went out to my van. as i sat in the driver's seat & began to pray "God, what have i done? i don't want a job. i'm a mom with 2 little kids. i HAVE a job! my marriage is a mess right now. i can't work. what are You planning, God?" just then something hit the van. i thought it was another car, but it was a bird! he was fluttering outside the driver's side window & i said outloud, "you stupid bird!" just then he flew to the rider's side & sat on the mirror, looking at me through the window. all of a sudden i began to cry & this thought came to me: "I care for you & your kids more than I care for this little bird." and i thought, "God's gonna take care of me & my kids, no matter what happens." i filled out the application, signed my name at the bottom & then the little bird flew away. 2 days later i became the manager of 'more than just books' which later became 'mill's bible store'. was that not a sign? was that not God talking to me? i believe it was. but pastors say differently. am i wrong? are they right? am i confused? are they just taught that in seminary? do i not have enough faith? (the pastor used this example tonight----one woman prays & definitely gets her prayers answered via scripture. God talks to her through the Bible & it's very clear that He's answering her prayers. another lady sits quietly thinking, 'i've been praying forever for something, & reading my Bible but don't feel like God's talking to me or answering - does that mean i'm not spiritual enough, that i don't have enough faith..........??' ----i honestly believe this is just satan putting doubts in our minds, trying to get us to not have faith. trying to get us to not trust God.)
during the 10 years that followed, God took care of me--through marital problems, kid problems, my husband's brain cancer, and eventually through a divorce - & the almost 6 years since, He's been right there, taking care of me, providing for me, teaching me, growing me. at that job i learned so much about God, so much about myself. i learned to be confident again - something that a lifetime of abuse had taken away. i went through a battle with cancer with the store owner to learn how to manage through a battle of cancer with my husband. i learned how to handle the death of a friend, the deaths of my parents & the death of a marriage. and through it all God took care of me & provided..........was that little bird not a sign????? didn't God use that little bird to remind me that He says in matthew 10:31 "do not fear, you are more valuable than many sparrows." wasn't God talking to me that day, telling me He'd protect me?
i think God uses the little birds, the p31w devotionals & many other things to lead us back to scripture, back to His Word where He does talk to us. and like one wise woman said at church tonight, "the Holy Spirit wouldn't 'bring it to mind' if it hadn't already been read in the first place." so that all ties back to YOU'VE GOTTA READ THE WORD TO HEAR GOD SPEAK TO YOU!!
aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! i get it!!! God's mind is so much bigger than mine!!!! i'm glad He understands it all, because i sure don't!!!!!!
but all i can do is TRUST in Him.
i am so blessed!!!! and God & i talk to each other!!!!!! i'm so glad He loves me enough!