The fervent prayers of a righteous woman make a lot of power available (James 5:16 – my version of the amplified)

Do all your prayers to God get answered?  How many Yeses have you had?  How many NOs?  How do you measure and track the results?  Recently a significant NO made me stop and think about my tally.

-God has given me many Yeses, many I have taken for granted

-The NOs actually teach me more because they cause me to pause, think and pray all the more.  The NOs teach me about God and about myself.  I want to talk about 3 NOs and 2 Yeses.

Ten days ago God closed a door.  I had been praying boldly in faith that not only would Mike secure an interview, but he would be chosen for a certain local civil service job.  The first cut was not a problem, but 3 weeks later he saw that he was a ‘non-select’.  Not being called for the interview hurt!  By our reckoning, he was imminently qualified.

This NO got me thinking about other NOs.  In the past 23 years, I can only recall 2 significant ones.  I’m sure there have been others, but they have faded from my memory.   More significant are the multitude of Yeses – hundreds of them: yeses to big prayers, to little prayers, to quick prayers and to long-term prayers. In fact just yesterday, a major YES came through, that is: safety and success for Wes in his Ranger course.

So what have I learned from the NOs? :  That I’m not in charge, that God truly does know best, that He has my best interests at heart, and that God has his reasons whether we know them or not.  Not bad lessons.

Our first NO was a response to another prayer about a job.  We wanted to stay in Germany where we were living in1983.  Doors shut and the fish weren’t biting, so we moved back to the States near where my parents were living.  My mom dropped dead, without a warning, 1 ½ years later.  In hindsight I saw the blessing to me and to our boys of that time with my mom.  Had we stayed in Europe (my heart’s desire) we would have been the poorer.

The other NO came as an answer to a fervent daily prayer that Wes and I offered on behalf of his friend who had applied to West Point as well.  Asthma blocked this boy’s admission and no waiver was forthcoming.   Frankly, I was shocked that God didn’t grant the waiver.  I truly thought that if we prayed in faith we could……what? …manipulate God?  I guess so!  That was a reality check.  God doesn’t always do what I think is best.

On the other hand, here are two Yeses that have been cooking for a long time.  I don’t think I really believed that God would answer them, (prayers wrapped in agnosticism).

Since I was 16 (I am now 53) I have struggled with eating issues. First there was bulimia…that God miraculously removed from my repertoire of destructive actions.  But since that deliverance at age 25, I have still struggled, prayed and cried about my body, obsessing over all things food and body.  Now, however, in the past 3 months, God has given me a way to eat and to maintain my weight without obsessing.  I am amazed.  He really DOES answer long-term prayers.

The other long-term prayer has to do with professional skill.  I switched to a completely different method of teaching French 8 ½ years ago.  It has been VERY difficult, because it is a skill that requires thinking on one’s feet and depending on the energy of the students, similar to an ‘Improv’ artist and his audience.  My husband has prayed along side of me, encouraging me with lots of love as he did when I was bulimic.  And again, in the past 3 months, I have popped out above the clouds and the skills have jelled. My confidence and delight in teaching this way have rapidly grown.  An unexpected answer to prayer, it alighted on my shoulder almost unnoticed at first.

In conclusion, here is what I have learned from the NOs and the Yeses.  I am ‘owning’ the command to “pray always”, being watchful and thankful.  As I pray, I totally FEEL that I can trust God to answer the prayers as He sees fit.  He knows all the circumstances and is immensely creative and patient. And I do not grow in prayer only through my own experiences, as if in a vacuum.  Answers to my own prayers are not alone in spurring me on.  Each time another brother and sister in Christ bids me pray for a need and then shares their rocky journey toward the answer (whether a No or a Yes) I am encouraged. For I am reminded that God IS listening and He DOES care.   That is the blessing gained from belonging to the body of Christ and being transparent and unashamed.

“Let us continue to spur one another to love and good deeds (PRAYER), not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching” Heb 10: 24-25