We Pray and Plan. God Does What He Wants.

We fast and pray for the Lord to bring men and women into relationship with Him, for men to lead in the church and in relationships, for our hearts to be soft to the Lord’s leading, and for God-honoring marriages for those who desire them.

Sometimes, life moves at the pace of a snail. Nothing seems to change. Same job. Same state. Same datelessness. Same relationship status. Then all of a sudden, everything changes—usually in a short period of time.

This time last year, I was about to turn 30, was working at an energizing organization with no intention of leaving and in a city I loved (DC) with no love life to speak of. (Need proof? Just click the links.) If you had asked me how 2015 would go, I would have said that it would have been more of the same—don’t get me wrong, I loved my life—but nothing all that radical was on the horizon.

Then, I got a phone call from a friend. She suggested I leave my job, go to grad school in the midwest, and then think about coming to work at her organization. I thought about it and prayed, and my internal thought process went something like this:

I don’t want to leave DC, but maybe I should. I can’t really afford to live on my own here, much less buy a house. I’m pretty content with being single. Maybe God’s calling me to step out, to take a leap of faith and make a new life for myself. If I follow her advice, I could afford living on my own and be involved in amazing ministry. I don’t have a significant other to consider or children. Why not say yes to an adventure–even if I might be saying yes to a life of singleness?

Now, you may be quick to point out that saying yes to grad school and the chance at a job isn’t necessarily signing up for a lifetime of singleness, but the way I was looking at it—I was making a plan for my life (with God) in a way I hadn’t done in a decade.

I was terrified, but I started taking steps towards that vision of the future. Then, shortly before I was going to take the GRE and start my graduate school applications, I took a final work-trip to Phoenix. As it happens, I met this guy, and I liked him immediately. Nothing could happen right? Sure, he was a Christian, and we had a lot of similar interests. Bottom line: He lived in Arizona and worked for a company I was leaving, and I was making plans.

I started talking to him anyway.

I flew back to DC, continued making my plans, and although nothing was really happening with that guy, we also never stopped talking. I applied for grad school. We’d text and IM. I got a graduate assistantship. We’d Skype. I accepted the graduate assistantship. We’d Skype for longer. I liked him, but I didn’t think anything would happen.

Fast forward to today. I’m two months into a two-year graduate program in a midwestern state I’d barely thought of a year ago—with a long-distance, desert boyfriend that I’m planning the holidays with. I’ve got a pretty ridiculous case of whiplash. I thought I knew what was going to happen this year, and I’ve been humbled.

I wanted to write about my whirlwind for a two reasons:

#1: We pray and plan. Whether you’ve just discovered FastPray or started praying with Connally, Anne, and the original writers, this community is about prayer. We pray out of joy, out of frustration, out of disappointed hopes, out of expectation, out of loneliness, out of confusion. We pray for men, for women, and the gift of marriage. We pray for our futures, for God’s guidance and for His will to be done in our lives. When we pray, God consoles, guides, convicts, and sometimes, is seemingly silent. Our job isn’t to decide how God answers our prayers. Our job is to bring our whole selves to the Lord—as we are—so He can meet us. We pray, and to the best of our ability, plan our course through the world.

#2: God does what He wants. If I draw one lesson out of the past year, it’s that the God we pray to can’t be cajoled or manipulated. He’s not safe, but He’s good—to borrow C.S. Lewis’s famous description. He sees us, and He’s chasing us. I prayed about grad school and my plan for my future and thought it seemed pretty great, but I’ve been humbled. We can make all the plans we want, but He’s actually calling the shots. I thought that because my love life had been following the same course that it had been—that it always would. My life seemed pretty predictable, and I was comfortable with that. I prayed, but I honestly wasn’t looking for God to bring someone into my life.

As someone who has contemplated her own singleness intentionally for years—who has endured every version of the formulaic marriage calculator, I am not suddenly going to sprout barbed wisdom. Instead, I want to offer some measure of encouragement that we cannot see what God sees and know what God plans. He sees your faithful prayers and wants to quiet you with his love.


Posted in Author: Anna | Tagged | 2 Comments

Right to the heart

On Mondays, we fast and pray for men and women to show their unique reflection of the image of God more and more clearly. And we pray for marriages to be given to those who desire them. 

Every time it comes to fasting I get hungry and slightly food-deprived edgy, not pretty, but true. Any other time I can soldier through a missed meal with a mission to complete whatever task has engrossed me, but this ability seems to escape me while fasting. Anyone else get distracted and hungry during our fast times? 

It starts with a dull gurgle then grows to full-on pangs. Why do I get so hungry on fast days? I know why, it distracts me from the purpose of denying myself food… prayer! What I don’t like is how the food denial turns my mood into something less than lovely. I’m supposed to be praying, getting closer to God, denying my basic need as a representation of my full surrender to God, but I’m overcome with hunger thoughts and a bad attitude. Jesus help me!

Two Mondays ago I had to run errands for work and utilized the time in the car to extend my prayer time. As I was flying down the highway, my mind began to wander to the hunger pangs that usually overtake me during fasting. As the hunger twinges grew, my thoughts moved to a hunger of a different kind. 

I long to be seen, pursued, and loved by a male specimen that wants to sign up for a grand, Christ-honoring adventure with me. I desire to have a partner in life working towards shared goals and dreams, a spouse, a friendship, a lover wrapped up in marriage. Sometimes this hunger is so strong that it hurts and completely enraptures my thoughts and focus. As much as I try to dull the desire by focusing and being thankful for the positive aspects of being single, I can’t seem to shake the longing for marriage. 

So, there I am cruising along with traffic, praying and entertaining intermittent mind-swirling thoughts of hunger and longing, when God speaks directly to my heart! And this is what He said: 

I want you to hunger for ME like you hunger for food! I long for you like you long for a man!

God pulls no punches, He goes right to the heart! Some of you need to hear this as well, “GOD LONGS FOR YOU!” The creator of the universe, who formed you in your mother’s womb LOVES you!

Ephesians 3: 17 – 18

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…

We often talk about Jesus identifying with us – in suffering (1 Peter 2:21), in trials and temptations (Hebrews 4:15), in our humanness (Philippians 2:7), but I’ve never really thought about aspects of my life identifying with God. Created in His image, yes, but created with His feelings… 

Sometimes I have prayed, “God, just take these feelings away! If my longing isn’t going to be realized, just take it away!” I’ve rationalized that life would be easier if I wasn’t getting heartbroken over unmet desire. Would I want God to be so dismissive of His feelings for me? 

What if for nothing else, our longing and desire for a spouse that has gone on for years on end was to serve as a testament to God’s love and longing for His people? Your desires and deep down longings for love and acceptance are the very heartbeat of God for you! Relish in that thought for a moment. 

The rest of the prayer for the Ephesians (3: 19-21) goes like this…

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I don’t know about you, but I NEED this love that surpasses knowledge. My prayer today is that I can love Jesus with all of my heart, mind, and soul (Deuteronomy 6:5) and pursue Him with all of the longing that fills my heart. May the cry of David in Psalms 63, be my cry as well… 

God—you’re my God!

I can’t get enough of you!

I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,

traveling across dry and weary deserts.

I just finished listening to the latest Beth Moore simulcast entitled, Audacious, and one of her points reaffirmed what God has been speaking to my heart. I’m going to phrase it in a form of a question for you…

Do you have the audacity to make an unseen Savior the supreme romance of your life?

May He speak to your heart today!


Posted in Author: Michelle | 7 Comments

Guest Post: Miracle in Progress

On Mondays, we fast and pray for men and women to show their unique reflection of the image of God more and more clearly. And we pray for marriages to be given to those who desire them. 

This week, we have Emily, another friend of fast.pray, sharing a recent snippet from her life – we felt this would be another great encouragement as we start the fall of fasting and praying together.

This is the story of a miracle in progress.  A miracle yet to be known, and seemingly so far away – but promised to be beautiful in its time, and full to the brim with blessings that will run over. It is, as you may have guessed, the miracle of marriage. The miracle of seeing the boldness and sacrificial love we pray for in men, the friend and companion to share life with, and the deep love we hope will settle into our lonely hearts in the form of a spouse.

But beyond marriage, we ache for a greater miracle: knowing that the things we have stood for and hoped for – faith, redemption, blessing, kindness, and grace – can and will come to fruition.  And, that the One we have banked everything on will show Himself to be the very best, and faithful to us.

This past spring, I spontaneously visited Holy Trinity Church (HTC) in McLean, VA led by Scottish pastor Jamie Haith.  Jamie and I had met through the National Prayer Breakfast, and he had reached out invited me to join for the service and a missionary lunch after church.  I agreed to go, and showed up on Sunday morning wondering why in the world I was there, instead of my home church.  I was fighting a cold, exhausted from the emotion of an impending break-up, and had spent the previous evening sobbing my eyes out at my parents’ house.  And, of course, I knew no one at HTC.

God, however, was ready to provide.  I sat down with a lovely family and their children who warmly greeted me before the service began.  Jamie’s sermon was on the Wedding at Cana from John 2 and he titled it “The Best is Yet to Come.”  As the story goes, the cheap wine runs out, but Jesus tells the servants to fill the jars to the brim with water.  They balk, and you can almost see Jesus smirking, thinking, “Don’t they know who I am?”  You know the rest of the story – He turns the water into wine, and the master of the feast is amazed, saying “You have kept the good wine until now.”

Jamie noted that we all long to see miracles like this.  We all long to believe that our mustard seeds of faith tucked away in our hearts, much like Mary’s heart, will come alive, grow and produce good fruit.  But, in order to truly experience miracles, Jamie said we must know our need, cooperate with His commands, and expect in excess.

I felt so encouraged by these words and the service gradually came to a close. Then, very spontaneously, a woman approached Jamie at the front of the stage, and then walked up to the microphone.  She said she had a prophetic word to give, and then said:

I believe there is a single woman visiting church today who has a deep ache and longing in her heart for marriage, and that God wants her to know that He knows, He sees, and that the best is yet to come.  And, that the Lord hasn’t forgotten her, and wants her to remember Hosea 2:

Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her — and there, I will give her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth.  And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer ‘My Baal.’  I will betroth her to me forever in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy and faithfulness.  And I will answer her.”

With tears streaming down my face, I looked around to see who else this word could possibly be for. It was a small church…I saw families and older couples, but I was the only single woman in the sanctuary. I knew the word was for me, and my jaw dropped. God was speaking to ME.  This was amazing to me because I had spent the past month praying, fasting, and longing for clarity about my relationship with my boyfriend. It had surprisingly unraveled before my eyes in a series of confusing and hurtful circumstances.  And, as passionately as I pursued the Lord in prayer, reflection, and wise counsel, I just couldn’t come to a firm yes or no about whether or not to continue the relationship. I felt that God had been far away and silent in my time of need.

But here He was speaking oh so clearly – and in that moment, I grasped this beautiful, personal miracle in my heart.  He wasn’t a minute too late, or a minute too soon.  He was right on time.  He had “kept the good wine until now,” the provision of what was needed in that moment.  As we took communion, I quietly surrendered my life, demands, cravings, fears, and desire for marriage afresh to the Lord. And, when I walked out of that church that day, I left feeling humbled and simply amazed that the God of the Universe had chosen to speak to ME.

Now it’s September. I’m single again, and am approaching my 30th birthday.  And, speaking honestly, my summer of moving on, healing, sifting through battered hopes, re-calibrating life, and re-discovering joy in my Savior has been far from easy.  It has been a daily fight for faith, and a constant confession to the Lord of my desperate need for Him.

And, the reality is: I cannot say in confidence if or when I will get married. But that wasn’t really the point of the miracle that day.  God didn’t give me that answer, but He met me – tenderly, clearly, and specifically. And in my darkest moments this summer, in the Valley of Achor, there has been a Door of Hope – the voice of the Shepherd, calling me to follow Him, wherever He leads.

I don’t know what lies ahead — for any of us.  But I do know that there is a Door of Hope in the Valley for me, for you — for those of us who are single and aching for a spouse. And, that we can lean on and cling to a faithful Husband and Friend in Jesus.  If you feel like you are in a “wilderness” of difficulties or weariness or questioning God’s goodness, I encourage you to take fresh courage that He can and will perform miracles in your heart.  Jesus WILL speak tenderly to you, and will answer you in faithfulness and love and mercy as the truest Husband and Companion of our soul.

I think that this courage could be described as “spiritual tenacity”. Oswald Chambers talks about this in his book My Utmost for His Highest:

Tenacity is more than endurance.  It is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire.  Tenacity is more than hanging on – which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off.  The greatest fear a woman has is not that she will be damned, but that Jesus Christ – her Hero – will be worsted.  That the things she has stood for – love, justice, happiness, forgiveness, kindness – will not win out in the end. Then comes the call of spiritual tenacity, to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted.  If my hopes are being disappointed, it means they are being purified. There is nothing more noble that humans have ever hoped for (or dreamed of) that will not be fulfilled.  The strain of waiting for God is to remain spiritually tenacious.

My hope is that we all are becoming people who remain spiritually tenacious – not manipulative, striving, doubtful, or bitter – but tenacious children of God who can move forward with the certainty that our Father will not be proved a liar, regardless of what lies behind or ahead, and regardless of how long it takes for the fulfillment of what we have prayed for. Surely, there are no due dates on His promises, and instead of laughing at God like Sarah did at the thought of having a baby at age 90, we can lean forward and eagerly watch what He is doing.

Lord, let us not shrink back in fear — but rather press in with joyful expectancy that You are good, You love us, and You promise to pour out the best wine for us to enjoy.  Help us to believe that the best is yet to come.  Help us to continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our Faith.  Help us to await for our visions to reach their appointed times, and if it seems slow, to wait for it, knowing that it will surely come and not delay (Habakkuk 2).


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How To Expect When You’re Not Expecting

Welcome back from our annual summer break! We are praying that it was a restful, reflective time for each of you. And even if it wasn’t, we’re still praying! To kick off the fall semester, we have the privilege of hearing from Ginny, a dear friend and fellow traveler on this journey. Thank you, Ginny! 

[On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray for men and women to be more and more shaped into Christlikeness, and for marriages to those who desire them.]

On a Sunday afternoon earlier this summer I looked down, saw something unusual, and sprang from my chair to declare, “Uh…My…water just broke!” No, I wasn’t a mom-to-be but rather the winner of the strangest baby shower game I’ve yet encountered.  The hostess had placed in each of our glasses an ice cube with a tiny, plastic naked baby frozen in its center.  The guest whose baby melted free first was to announce “My water just broke!” and claim a door prize. Pinterest, you’ve gone too far.

After claiming my prize I sat down, pondered the absurdity of the plastic baby floating in my wine spritzer (oh, and was I supposed to fish it out now, or….?), and wondered if I would ever have a more legitimate reason to make such an announcement.  

There was a sort of poetic irony in watching the very young, beautiful bride open gifts that anticipated the child she carried, while my own body was bleeding out possibility the way it does every month. It is strange — and at times, feels cruel — to live in a body that reminds me on a monthly basis of its particular, visceral, and so far unmet capacity to create and nurture life.  I can escape neither the physical reminder of specific things I desire nor the growing possibility that I may never receive them.

Then the whispered questions grow louder.  Are my desires just superfluous?  Why do I have them at all?  Why do I have a body saddled with seemingly pointless potential?  Why, Lord, did you give me so many desires if I’m only ever to be disappointed in them?

Childhood was marked by wild anticipation, dreams, desires accompanied by profound expectation — not a tenuous guess that x, y, z might happen but rather a deep certainty that they would.  I was certain of what I was made for and what my life would look like.  My heart lived in that vision so fully that my dreams for the future seemed sure as promises, like Old Testament dreams that were trustworthy revelation of the destinies of God’s people.

But life hasn’t gone that way, and somewhere in the last five years I have stopped dreaming.  These days dreams seem less like promises and more like vapors – impossible, unattainable distractions.  A waste of time when I’m busy trying to figure out reality.

I’ve told people that I’m content.  I’m fine.  I’m “discovering the gift of singleness” (while still far from sure what that means).  But the reality I have to admit to myself is that I’ve stopped living from a place of hope or joyful expectation, instead adopting an attitude of no expectation and called it contentment because that sounds more virtuous.  I have taught myself to dull my desires in an offensive against possible further heartache.  I looked at the disappointments of the last ten years and, almost without realizing it, let them teach me to give up asking for the longings of my heart.  I stopped asking or expecting because I would frankly rather not ask if it only means setting myself up for more disappointment.   My response to my hunger was stoicism.

The night following that baby shower I realized I couldn’t bear the dryness of stoicism anymore, but if I wasn’t going to be filled, what other options did I have?  What did it matter?  I threw questions at heaven, just defying God to actually understand.  If He really knew what this felt like, He would take it away, or at least show up with some answers.  Perhaps He has general “compassion” toward me, but what does that mean or matter if He never lived the frustrations specific to being a single, childless woman in the 21st century staring down a third decade of unmet longing?

I’m a Presbyterian so these words don’t exactly roll off my tongue, but the Holy Spirit was moving as I asked such ungrateful questions.  Hebrews 4:15 wouldn’t leave me alone: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are…”  Ok, Lord.  Let’s talk about this for a minute.  How can the God who took on the body of a man in the ancient world sympathize with me in this?

  • Jesus slept alone, like I do.
  • Jesus assumed a fully human body with the same capacity for desire and creation — and yet never physically fathered children.
  • Jesus knows the pain of unrequited love on a cosmic scale exponentially greater than the heartbreak and disappointment in my past.

I am known and loved by a God who voluntarily defers hope, desire, and good gifts because of His confidence in their eventual perfection.  I am reminded of this every time I partake of the Lord’s Supper and my pastor recites the promise: “I tell you I will not drink of this fruit of the vine again until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  For Him, it was worthwhile to forego the enjoyment of this good thing because wine in itself would never fill His true desire: unity and fellowship with His people.

But here is my struggle: How do I live with hope and expectation — not assumption that I will receive everything I want, but an attitude that nonetheless embraces the goodness of desire and expects the goodness of the Lord?  How do I hold a contentment with the life I have been given in balance with a still-resent desire for good things I haven’t been given?

I think one key is to usher my bitter, limping heart on more frequent visits to the roots beneath my wish list.  Yes, I desire specific things like a spouse, my own home, an income that allows me to travel and be generous and save for the future.  But none of those good things in themselves would resolve finally the deeper hunger pangs beneath the surface.  I hunger to be known and cherished; to have relationships and resources to use my God-given abilities and nurturing instincts; to be rooted in a place that is beautiful and secure; to have a forum in which to explore, enjoy, and share with others the peerless, expansive beauty of my God.  God is big enough and knows me intimately enough to give me all these things in packaging not limited to the scope of my imagining.

The other key is to remember that my definition of God’s goodness is very narrow.  My habit has been to judge the goodness of the Lord based on the list of things He has not given me.  It’s easy to dwell on interpreting my life as a list of ways in which I’ve been left out, and based on that list define God as inattentive at best, mean at worst.  But I must remember that He is not so mean as to withhold husband/house/prosperity and given me nothing else to enjoy.

There is so much that I have, here, now, and to come.  I have the family, friends, and church that God knew I needed.  I have a job that pays my bills and a cozy place to live and hobbies that bring delight.  According to Psalm 16, I have a good inheritance.  According to Ephesians 1, I have redemption, riches of grace, hope, power.  Whether or not I end up with a home of my own or a magnificent budget for hospitality, I am ASSURED a seat at the one table that will truly satisfy.  Whether or not I have descendants I am GUARANTEED a family that cannot be bound by time or distance.  I am promised that it is a blessed thing to hunger and thirst, and I WILL be filled.

Perhaps this is the avenue to not resenting my body, my dreams, or my story.  What could be perceived as superfluous or cruel loose ends can instead be seen as the arrows pointing to what is to come.  They are the messengers shouting out the truth that nothing here will fill me completely — I will always be hungry until kingdom come — so hold the gifts loosely even as I enjoy them deeply.  Let my profound hunger rumble along with all of creation as it waits, because I know now that the alternative of a stoic heart kills my ability to receive God’s goodness.  As my roommate put it recently, “The first bite of heavenly reality will be far more real for those who have hungered.”


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How Are These My Options?

On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray for God to work in the hearts of men and women to have each more clearly show imago Dei in their unique ways. Additionally, we pray for godly spouses and marriages to be granted to those who desire them. 

Last week, I was waiting for a friend and absent-mindedly perusing that weird church bookshelf. (I’m pretty sure every church has one.) And these three titles jumped out at me:


And my first thought was, “Wait, what? All these options are….terrible! We’ve got single and lonely. Dating someone but focused on trying not have sex. Or heartbroken after a relationship ended. Well, that’s just lovely!”

In all seriousness, one of the reasons that we (both writers and readers) have a constant stream of things to discuss is because singleness, like most of life, is a multi-faceted journey that doesn’t lend itself to oversimplification. The literature rack was just an embodiment of that reality on a small scale. Please indulge me because I would like to briefly address this nonsense.

Single and Lonely: Finding the Intimacy You Desire. 

  • So many things wrong here. First of all, lots of people have intimacy problems and lots of people are lonely. Some of those people are single but lots of folks aren’t. The singleness part of the title could be correlated with loneliness, but it is certainly the exclusive cause of the loneliness.
  • The title also implies that if marriage were to replace singleness, the reader would no longer need to look for intimacy. Absolute nonsense. As fallen humans on this side of heaven, we will live and struggle with unmet desire of all kinds. Period.
  • Lastly, there is a sense here that loneliness is something to be ashamed of and solved at all costs. I don’t think that’s helpful at all…especially since we follow a Savior, who while on earth, was an unmarried man who also dealt with the reality of human loneliness (more here).

Sex before Marriage: How Far is Too Far? 

  • Still shaking my head. Really?  This all we’ve got to offer dating couples? We’re twenty-five years past the True Love Waits fad and we’re still asking the misguided question of “How far is too far?”
  • To be helpful and relevant, this brochure should be titled something like “Learning to Use Your Body to Love God and Others Unselfishly Instead of Sexually Consuming Other People (Including Your Spouse) to Meet Deep Spiritual Needs that Self-Gratifying Sex Can Never Fill.” Or as another option: “Healthy, Passionate, Completely Integrated, Self-Giving Incarnational Celibacy!” Oddly, no one wants to print or read those brochures.
  • Honestly, I think sometimes what we’d really like are some snazzy little guidelines to describe what behaviors are permissible for us and allow us to still claim some shred of self-righteousness about sexual ethics. That kind of hypocrisy sets us up for pride and/or despair. I’ve seen both sides of that coin, and what I mostly learned is that I need the gospel and Jesus Christ more than I need behavioral guidelines.

Starting Over: How Not to Screw Up Your Next Relationship.
Ok, deep breath. The assumptions here are legion:

  • The relationship ending is the same as “screwing it up.” (So I guess the flip side is that the relationship continuing is the same thing as succeeding? Definitely not true in all cases!)
  • Your last relationship failed because you did something wrong. Also, the relationship’s outcome was in your control.
  • There will be a next relationship.
  • If you do things properly, your relationship will work out correctly (assuming they mean you’ll get married?)
  • After a relationship is “screwed up,” you have to go back to the beginning and “start over.”
  • In general, I expect to see these kind of assumptions in the pages of glossy not-that-profound women’s magazines. But this is my church and a reputable Biblical counseling organization! This is the level of thoughtfulness we have about dating and breakups and dealing with relational disappointment: a Chutes-and-Ladders style game approach where one wrong relational step sends you back to the beginning, and getting married gets you out of the game.

Well, there you have it…another deep breath! In any case, as we do annually in August, we’re taking a break from our usual weekly fasting and praying. But these brochures inspired some questions to mull over in prayer during August.

  • Relational Intimacy: Where is loneliness real to me right now? What parts of my life are unseen right now? Are there parts of my life or heart that I should share with someone else? Is the Lord calling me to enter into someone else’s loneliness? Are there areas of relational grief that I refuse to acknowledge or allow the Lord to address?
  • Sexuality: Where are my views of celibacy, sexuality and God incongruous? Do I have areas of sexual darkness, addiction or selfishness that need to brought into the light? Am I rationalizing these areas of darkness because I am single? Do I resent being created as a sexual being while living a celibate life? Am I free to love and give myself appropriately in the contexts I have right now?
  • Dating and Relationships: Have I been viewing my relational life as a really painful hike up Marriage Mountain? What is a better metaphor for my experience of life with Jesus? Do I view myself as either a really bad mountain climber, and/or unfairly pushed down the mountain by cruel members of the opposite gender? Do I have unforgiveness or strong soul ties about past dating relationships? What heart-level issues does the Lord (not me, my friends, my family or my exes) want to address about past, present or future dating relationships?

Praying with and for you this August!

By His Grace,


Posted in Author: Amy | 10 Comments

A Time to Listen

We fast and pray (typically through Monday’s lunch): for marriage for those who desire it; for strong, God-honoring marriages to thrive; and for our hearts to be soft and receptive to our Father.

When I started writing for fast.pray. in 2012, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it ended up being one of the best and most difficult things I’ve done. The guidelines for posting were simple: keep it around 600-ish words (sorry, sometimes it has taken more words than that!) and share your struggles with singleness, but always bring it back to the focus of hope that we have in the Lord.

At the risk of sounding heretical, this exercise should be a new spiritual discipline. Take the most personal/emotional/mental/spiritual struggle you have and write and reflect on it in light of Scripture and God’s promises. Oh yes, and hundreds of people will read it and comment.

But writing has been such a blessing to my soul. I’ve had many spiritual epiphanies while processing situations and feelings in order to share them with you. It was a tremendous comfort to know that others in the community had similar experiences as we walked this journey of singleness together.

To structure my time of fasting and prayer on Mondays, I made a list of friends and family for whom I pray about their marital status. The list has two columns: single and married. For my single guy/girl friends, I pray the Lord will bring a spouse if that’s His Will. For my married friends, I pray for strong, lasting marriages.

Over the years, I’ve moved names from the single list to the married list, praising the Lord for answered prayer. It’s been a joy to see relationships develop, and I have realized answered prayer myself as I met (online), dated, and married my husband (see My Plan B is God’s Plan A).

Being married hasn’t changed my heart or attitude toward the importance of fasting and praying for marriage. If anything, it has reinforced the importance as I’ve heard stories of struggling marriages, and there are still many names on my prayer list of singles who desire marriage.

However, for the past several months, I’ve felt the Lord leading me to take on a new role in our fast.pray. community as a prayer supporter rather than a regular writer. I feel I have “written through” my journey with singleness and can’t add to the sense of journeying together which is what makes this community so special and effective. Even though I know from experience the rollercoaster the single life can be, the last thing I want is for me to come across as that married person who has good intentions but is not adding to the conversation in a meaningful way.

To illustrate what I mean: I recently heard a sermon on the book of Job, and the pastor mentioned that Job’s friends would have been much more effective in comforting and supporting him if they had simply come to sit, listen, and pray (as they did at first) rather than speak. (Job 2:11-4:8)

So I’m here to sit, listen, and pray with you every Monday rather than speak. I might pop up from time to time to let you know I’m still around and praying, but for now, I’m going to quietly support. Thank you for the feedback, encouragement, and insight you’ve given me these past three years!

To borrow Paul’s prayer for the Colossians (1:9b-14 NIV):

[I] continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Much love through Him,


Posted in Author: Emily | 9 Comments

For The Win

On Mondays, we fast and pray for lunch (or something other than food) asking for the Lord to bring healing in our times: for men to be bold and to walk in to relationships with women, for women to be soft and willing to be molded by God’s gracious plan in their lives, and for God to give the good gift of marriage to those who desire it.

Rolling hills, steep climbs, cooling descents, and flat straight-a-ways gave me some time to think about this post as I pushed my legs to pedal 21 miles on my bicycle. I’m participating in a 75-mile fundraiser ride in a month and if I don’t get more miles in the saddle, I’ll be doomed on event day.

IMG_5717[1]Today proved to be a newsworthy day in the sports world. The Women’s U.S. Open Golf Tournament came down to the final strokes. In Gee Chun was able to pull off a win in her Open debut. I had the opportunity to attend Saturday’s event and watch the professionals in action. There is something about seeing individuals at the top of their game; they make their sport look easy. The spectators cheer, jeer, and give instruction to the individual and the ball without much regard for the dedication, sacrifice, and countless hours of practice that brought them to the main stage of their sport.

The other feat of the day was the dismantling of the record for the fastest, supported, completion of the Appalachian Trail. Scott Jurek toppled Jennifer Pharr Davis’ record by just 3 hours and 13 minutes. He faced many challenges along the way, injury and stomach illness slowed his pace, but he kept pushing towards the goal. I’ve hiked several sections of the AT in PA and I have a hard time walking the trail without stumbling over rocks and tree roots, I can’t imagine trying to run the entire trail.

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:1 “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

The sports metaphor is not lost on me; set a goal, follow the course, push past the pain, and keep moving. What does trip me up, though, is keeping my eyes on the correct goal. We’ve talked about marriage being a gift in numerous blog posts on FastPray; so that means marriage is not a goal, destination, or achievement to be conquered. I believe that is an important distinction to make sure we have settled in our heart and mind. Gifts are given and received without regard for merit or preparedness.

However, if marriage is our goal, then we need to strive to achieve it. Beauty becomes our vice. Dating becomes our training ground. Marriage becomes the measure of success or failure. And the longer we’re playing for marriage, the more we question our game-plan and our ability to even be in the race.

The full context of Hebrews 12: 1 -3:

                Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I’ve been challenged lately to make sure I’m striving for more of Jesus and less of what Michelle wants or thinks she needs. No angling, cajoling, or manipulating to try to get something or someone. The “therefore” in the beginning of chapter 12 is referring to the Hall of Faith highlighted in Hebrews 11. We are to run a race filled with faith that advances the Kingdom of God, because so many people before us have lived by faith and did crazy things like give instructions about bone burial and marched until walls fell down.

Let us strive for more faith and eyes fixed on Jesus. How would this sentence be completed in your life, “By faith (insert your name)…”

Jesus, help us!


Posted in Author: Michelle | Leave a comment