“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.“
Is this real? Does God really answer prayers? Lately I feel like I’ve been needing to pinch myself as I watch prayers I’ve prayed for years become answered in ways I would’ve never expected.
See, I deal with a lot of prayers that go unanswered or get answered in the exact opposite way we asked. This is an occupational hazard, perhaps of just being a human being, but especially of being a minister. People tell you when they are praying for health miracles and job breakthroughs and all kinds of things, and they tell you when their prayer efforts fall flat as a pancake too. This doesn’t discourage me. I’ve been at prayer, and at ministry, long enough now that I am like the persistent woman in Luke chapter 18. I just keep badgering God. For me prayer is like breathing. And would you say that breathing doesn’t work? No, it works- unless you don’t do it. That’s what prayer is to me- it just is, and I know that God is using it for something even if it’s not what I had in mind.
So in some ways when prayer results in something that so obviously puts it in my face that God has been listening, and working, for the best, in my situation, I am blown away. That is what is happening now.
I have wanted to start a new church since my grandparents helped to start a church for Spanish speakers in their little dusty West Texas town back in the 80’s. When I went to college I wanted to start a church up in the Northwest because the Baptist Student Union director said there were no Christians in Seattle! I wanted to start a church so much that I became a coach for our denomination’s New Church Start movement, I went to training to start a new church twice. I really wanted to start a new church because I am convinced that is the best way to introduce people who don’t know God’s love to a community that will show it to them. Meanwhile…God kept calling me to 100+ year old churches. Churches which I loved, dearly, and who I learned from, heartily. But churches that were clearly not new.
But now, our 111 year old church, the one God called us to three years ago, is becoming a new church. We’ve sold our buildings and bought a new one. We are on the cusp of being a completely new church, rooted by the history and identity that came before us. We will share drawings of plans for the new space this Sunday. We will dream about a new name soon. Most of all, we will invite people who aren’t connected to grace in a faith family to come get on the ground floor.
And God is answering my 3o year old prayer. So I’m just going to sit right here in awe and watch and learn. And I’m going to proclaim that God does answer prayer.