The journal was marked June – December, 2013.
I flipped it open and stumbled across a page. There it was.
December 9, 2013
Sarah to have a baby.
Brittney to have a baby.
Those requests were wrapped around tears and years of infertility. There was no answer in sight at that time. And yet here it was, two years later and both of these mamas are holding little ones in their arms. As I read the prayer requests, I slipped out my pen and wrote “answered” above each.
Then I wondered. . .
Why had these answered prayers gone uncelebrated by me?
I set the journal down on the coffee table and walked into a little room in my home inspired by the movie The War Room. It’s tucked under my stairs. It’s a small space that shares square footage with a vacuum cleaner and boxes of old photos. I looked at the prayers written on sticky notes and stuck to the wall.
There was one answered prayer.
Oh goodness, and another one.
Some of these were smaller requests, but two of them were heavy burdens that were far bigger than I knew how to carry on my own.
And yet uncelebrated.
I knew the answer. New concerns had risen and I continued to stack my prayer requests like cord wood. Hack them down one at a time, Lord. See my need. See the need of my loved ones. Take care of this; take care of us; take care of me.
I’m so grateful that I can boldly walk into His presence and ask Him to help, but isn’t it just as important in this beautiful relationship to stop and whisper, “Thank you?”
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 (NLT)
I grabbed a pen from the kitchen and wrote the words, “answered” across the prayer requests written in my old journal. I went into the small room tucked under the stairs and placed my hands on the wall and wept, marking “answered” across those sticky notes. I vowed not to whisper another request until I praised Him. . . and asked for forgiveness for overlooking the miracles He had performed in response to prayer.
Are there unanswered prayers in that journal? Perhaps, for answers don’t always come the way I think they will.
Are there situations and circumstances and people still on my heart and I’m unsure of when or where or how the miracle will take place? Yes.
Yet I sense God asking me to change my prayer strategy to include gratitude.
I have stacks of old journals. I can’t wait to go back and read them. I can’t wait to thank Him for His faithfulness in the harder places. For His presence in times that seemed they’d never end. For answered prayers that came — not as I thought they would — but in ways that I now see as providence.
~ Celebrating answered prayer completely changes the way we view new problems ~
When I include gratitude as part of prayer, I anticipate how God will step into the new problems that arise. It strips anxiety to replace it with trust. It shows me where I can go, not just to stack up requests but to partner with an omniscient God. It allows me to clearly see those times when it seemed like the answer was “no,” and yet His presence was wrapped around me as He worked in me over the problem.
Will you do this with me?
If you don’t prayer journal, go back in time. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a moment when you asked God for guidance, for comfort, for hope, for provision, for His presence in a hard place, and the answer came. Then celebrate!
Let’s share those answered prayers, if that is possible, and encourage each other as we celebrate together.