The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91.14-16.
I used to think that prayer didn’t really matter. I mean, I still did it. And I still believed that God heard me. But I could never square with both the understanding that God already had a plan and that God answers prayers. If His plan was perfect and He already had it, what difference could asking for something, even in prayer, really make? Especially if that something didn’t fall into His plan. I just figured it was something we do. And when people said, “Oh, the Lord answered my prayer; look!” I was always like ‘yeah I don’t think so; it apparently just so happened that whatever you asked for was already part of His plan.‘ A wonderful coincidence at best.
Half a year ago, my boyfriend broke up with me. I was miserable. Not because I thought I couldn’t find anyone else to enjoy my time with and not because our love had been this perfect thing, but because I had lost the best friend I had ever had. I didn’t feel empty or void without him, like a piece of me was missing or any of that. I just felt sad. I still had an amazing life without him; I had a lot going for myself. But whenever I would enjoy something, I couldn’t help thinking ‘yeah, but I would enjoy this more with him‘ and I’d wish I could share things with him and I no longer could. And again, it’s not like I thought ‘this is it‘ and that I couldn’t find anybody else to be with who I was compatible with. I knew I could. That isn’t really a question— everybody can find someone else to be content with; it’s a matter mostly of choice. I had been in love before; I knew it could happen again. I just didn’t want anybody else. I wanted him.
I spent a long time thinking about this. And at that point, most of my friends were feeding me lines like ‘you’re better off without him‘ or ‘I never really liked you with him anyway‘ or ‘girl, he left YOU; go out and find a man who’s gonna shower you in everything you really deserve‘ which of course always came with the best intentions but were never truly helpful. It just made me feel worse. I hated when people told me he didn’t deserve me. People don’t deserve other people; they choose other people. But inevitably, after hearing it so much, I started to think that maybe he didn’t deserve me; that he had given up but I had remained loyal. I had that devil on my shoulder sneering, ‘go demand what you deserve; preserve yourself.‘
But I couldn’t give in to self-preservation. I couldn’t just give up. I had always had this feeling that we still had hope, that we still had some unattained remaining potential to be unlocked, that we were special. And I couldn’t give up on that. So I started praying for it. Timidly at first, because I was used to thinking that God already had a plan and things happened for a reason in a certain way, and it appeared that this thing had already happened and I didn’t want to be asking God for something that was against His will. So I was afraid at first. I also had doubt in the back of my mind dictating all my thoughts while I was praying. I’d pray for us to be brought back together, and a thought would hiss by: ‘you can ask, but this isn’t God’s will so you’re not gonna get it.’ All my prayers at first were tainted with this doubt. I was so sure I was asking for something that could not happen. That it was futile. That prayer always was.
I spent six months praying for something that people told me was a lost cause and not something I should ask for. And this month, he and I are together again, for the first time in seven months. I’m not sharing this to boast, because the only thing I could boast in is God’s power and grace. And I’m not sharing this to sound like a Nicholas Sparks novel. I felt like I had to share this in order to say that God is mighty. I wrote it to praise Him for what He’s done. God works in such crazy mysterious ways, we have no idea what He’ll do. And if you feel some kind of pull to pray for something, even something that seems crazy, DO IT. Through this whole ordeal, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s to not put the God of the universe in a box. To not assume that He won’t do something. If you love Him and serve him truly, He wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37.4-5). We forget that He has said Ask and you shall receive. But at this point, I do want to say that I’m not telling you that God will just toss us miracles like candy. Some things we ask for He isn’t going to do. And we just aren’t going to know why. And for many people, in many different circumstances that come to this end, this will be extremely difficult, and I understand that. I don’t want to sound like I’m saying “oh just ask for it and God’ll give it to you, no biggie” because that’s not how it is. And that’s not how I prayed either. I was a slave to prayer. I begged for it; I laid down my everything to Him when I asked for it. I said I’d do anything for it. I was desperate and relentless. But I also remembered that I was me and that God is GOD. If the King of kings didn’t want it to happen, I knew that it wouldn’t. But when I prayed, I also wasn’t a slave to my fears or doubts that it wouldn’t happen. At first I was, but eventually I moved to praying against the grain of my fears. I prayed through the doubts. And I believed that God would do this even if people told me He wouldn’t. I waited for Him to act when I felt like I should and I trusted Him to be faithful and He was. I believed in a Holy Power that was beyond me.
I hope this helps at least one person who comes across it. I’m in no way saying that if you’ve broken up with someone and you want them back, that it will happen exactly how it did for me— it won’t. Every case it different. I’m just here to say that I believe in the power of a humble prayer, because I’ve witnessed the God of the universe work in it. I’m also not claiming to know a ton about this mysterious God of the universe— I don’t. A year ago, I didn’t even believe in God anymore. All I can really offer you is my experience. And my experience is that I prayed humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, and God had mercy on me and answered me.
If you’re stuck in a rut right now, not sure if God answers prayers, these verses really helped me (along with the verse at the beginning of this article from Psalm 91) :
Daniel 9.23, Jeremiah 31.9, Isaiah 65.24, Matthew 21.21, Genesis 18.14, 22-33, 19.29