Yesterday was amazing. I completed my first full marathon; more specifically I completed this crazy Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge where you run 48.6 miles over the course of 4 days – a 5K, 10K, Half-marathon, and a marathon. Finishing this race was a great feeling, but it is not what made the day amazing. Yesterday was a day of answered prayers; more specifically two answered prayers and this was what made it amazing.
The first was a prayer that the Lord would bring a circle of Christ-centered friends into my life that actually live in close proximity to me (I have friends that encourage me in my faith but they aren’t near, but very far away.) Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed with incredible friends—friends that I would not had survived the past year if it weren’t for each of them. But I also need friends that are strong in their faith to help encourage me in my own.
I prayed for Christ-centered friends rather than church-centered because I believe there to be a BIG difference. I aspire to live out Christ’s love and if you study Jesus he lived it both inside and outside the church. It’s about Christ’s love, not a love for church (okay, I will step down from my soapbox now!). I also asked that these friends be normal because there is sometimes an association with “church people” being a bit wacky and a little out there. I am sure everyone knows exactly what I am talking about. I’m not exactly into wacky but I am very much into demonstrating Christ’s love for others and living for His glory. So as I raced my heart out yesterday, I was surrounded by a handful of friends that represent my answered prayers. Over the last year, God has slowly infiltrated my life with strong, non-wacky, Christ-centered friends. To these friends: although you may not realize it, God is using you to constantly encourage me in my faith and you are each an inspiration in different ways. For today and every other day, thank you.
The second prayer has taken quite a bit more patience, understanding and perseverance. The Lord teaches us A LOT about prayer and one of the more simple but challenging elements of prayers is:
1 Thessalonians 5:17
“Keep on praying.”
This is easy when you get an answer, relatively quick to when you pray. For example, “Lord, please help me finish this marathon without dropping dead”. You pray for 26.2 miles and then you finish, still alive (okay…barely still alive!). I can handle that form of “keep on praying”. It becomes more challenging when you pray and pray and pray and pray…and there is no answer. Then 1 Thessalonians 5:17 transforms into this huge mountain that you just can’t climb.
In these times, we need to remember the concept of time: time is something man-made and God really doesn’t operate on our clock. Then we must look for more than “keep on praying” to encourage us.
18 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; 7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
For those unfamiliar or less familiar with Jesus, he often taught in parables. This story aims to remind us God hears our prayers but our prayers are answered on God’s time. And His time spans over eternity—in dimensions we will never understand. He always hears our prayers…and He always answers them, it just may not be on our timeline or the answer we are expecting. This concept is important to understanding the second part to “keep on praying”:
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
“17Keep on praying. 18No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ.”
When we pray, we need to remember there is an answer. The answer might not make sense to us but it is God’s plan for us. So we should pray with confidence and thanksgiving. Pray as if He has already answered you…because He is going to give you an answer. And sometimes if we aren’t paying close enough attention, we miss the answer altogether—this was me yesterday.
Have you ever prayed for something so long, that God answers the prayer in front of your eyes and you don’t even realize it? You almost get stuck in the routine of praying for it, that you forget there’s going to be answer. For over a decade, I have been praying for my mom. I prayed God would take care of her and motivate her to take care of herself. There are many details entwined in this “taking care of herself”…but this is my blog, not hers, and I will not be blogging about personal details of the people in my life (in case any of my family/friends were starting to get scared)! The point is…I don’t think she was in a good place and I was praying, praying, praying. Well yesterday, my mom completed her first marathon (that’s 26.2 miles for the non-runners out there). Over the past year she got a personal trainer, ran 4 half-marathons, changed her diet, and dropped a ton of weight. She also found a church she absolutely loves that motivates her and surrounds her with people that love Christ. (It is actually an amazing church! Even if you aren’t a ‘church’ person, it’s worth checking out if you are ever in Coral Springs, FL. One Sunday the pastor literally had a lion on the stage to teach about Daniel. A real, live, growl-at-you with big teeth, lion. It’s a “have to see-it-to-believe it” type of church. Check it out: http://cbglades.com) Anyway, yesterday as I was running, I was thinking about how long I prayed for her to take care of herself. And slowly over the past year, God started to answer this prayer without me even recognizing it. Without me even thanking Him for it. So yesterday, in the midst of running 26.2 miles, I gave thanks for answered prayers. Remember to pray without ceasing but pray with thankfulness because He is going to answer the prayer. We just need to be watching for an answer…not necessarily for ‘our answer’ but His answer.
So when praying for an unanswered pray—healing a family member of disease, to get pregnant, a husband to know Christ, a child fighting for their life in an ICU, a parent to stop drinking, a friend battling from depression, or a mother’s state of health…keep on praying and remember to give thanks. God is listening…even if you have never prayed before or you haven’t prayed in a really, really long time. Pray with thankfulness and have confidence He is listening and will answer. Because no race, marathon, or Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge will ever top the feeling of answered prayers.
Running, praying and recovering,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.