Praying Expectantly

A reminder:  We are praying for marriages for those who are designed for it, for the courage for men to walk into marriage, and for the courage for women to see where we need to change–and to change.  And as we pray, we hope you’ll consider these words from Anna, who has been a part of this movement for 3+ years.  ~The FastPray team

Sometimes when I tell people about this group, I get the sense they think I spend every Monday lunch break asking God to please bring me a husband … oh, and one for a few of my friends, too. Of course, I’ve always had some underlying hope along those lines, but I knew going into this rhythm of fasting and prayer that I didn’t have control of the agenda. To enter into a spiritual discipline like this is to bring our hearts and hand Him the keys.

Thus, in the three-plus years I’ve been fasting and praying with all of you, my focus has shifted away from me and my disappointments and much more toward others. And not just those who long for marriage, but men. In the last year, I’ve prayed particularly that men would reach their potential and become who they were created to be (whatever that does or does not mean for their relational lives). One encouragement in this has been an old fast.pray meditation on Ezekiel 37, about how God had Ezekiel prophesy over a valley of dry bones He transformed into people. That post has been a persistent reminder that God can create something from what seems like nothing. Or as Baptist preacher Russell Moore recently put it, God could make the next Billy Graham out of someone who’s currently drunk or passed out.

Dr. Moore’s article particularly moved me, because the men heaviest on my heart recently are those who pay for sex or otherwise participate in the sexual exploitation of others. In fact, I’m organizing a Valentine’s Day prayer event, called Pray for the Johns Day. The idea is to not only pray that johns would repent and turn from their ways, but that they could embark on whatever good works God has appointed for them to do.

Asking God for such a big thing is scary. What if He doesn’t act? But isn’t turning people from sin and transforming broken lives into sources of good why Jesus came to earth? So I’m praying boldly. And the more I do, the more I’m reminded that Jesus often tied His ability to heal to people’s faith. What if one reason God sometimes seems distant and impotent is that we’re so sure He’ll answer “no” that we don’t even ask? Or because, when we do ask, we expect inaction?

Certainly God sometimes allows us to ask for something year after year, maybe partly to produce patience and endurance. But He is also a God who delights to give good gifts and transform the broken into a blessing. And He is the God of both of the slave trader-turned-pastor and hymn writer and the murderer-turned-antigang outreach worker.

When I reread those stories, I get excited about what God can do through these Monday prayers of ours. As much as they’re about the specific pain of singleness and the longing for marriage, they’re also a request that God would bring His kingdom more fully in men and women, and especially in our relationships.

So wherever you’re at in this fasting-and-prayer journey, I would encourage you to pray boldly and expectantly. While I find a lot of good in asking God to show me what I should ask for, and how I should pray for certain people who are on my heart, the resulting requests I find myself making are sometimes very big. And somehow, because I’m planning to pray for the johns on Feb. 14, this is about as excited about a Valentine’s Day as I’ve been in a very long time.

Be Encouraged,  Anna

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21 Responses to Praying Expectantly

  1. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me.

    Anyways, I’m definitely pleased I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

  2. Minnie says:

    Does God ever want us to stop praying about something? After all, Paul asked the Lord three times to remove his ‘thorn’, and then received his answer (and presumably stopped asking for it to be removed). I struggle with the idea of praying expectantly. I feel like sometimes I am ‘praying expectantly’ but God has already given me the answer ‘no’ and I’m just running up against a closed door and beating it with my fists, in the name of being ‘expectant’. But then to stop praying for something seems like I’m giving up because I don’t really have the faith that God can do it, which is obviously wrong. I find it hard to sort out the role of God’s sovereignty vs. my faith in all of this. Does anyone have any advice?

    • Joanne says:

      My dear Sister in the Lord. Wait on the Lord. Trust in the Lrd with all your heart. He will give you the desires of your heart. He knows what we need before we ask. His plan for you is for good and not evil. He will give you the desires of the Lord

    • I *do* think it’s very important to heed the Holy Spirit on these things. There are certainly times where I’ve felt a kind of check when I was starting to pray in a certain direction. On the other hand, sometimes I’ve felt really dull and unmotivated, but when I stuck with it, things really opened up — as if my initial feeling was actually spiritual resistance from the enemy. I know that might sound a little confusing, but I have really, really found the Lord faithful to respond when I ask Him how to pray about things (which has a lot to do with how boldly I pray; if it really feels like *He* has put something on my heart, I pray more expectantly, but plenty of times I’m more tentative and pray “IF it’s Your will”).

      If you haven’t yet, I would really wrestle with God through some of the things you’ve said. Sometimes I find that, too, really helpful in prayer. A few weeks ago, I confessed to Him that I often struggle with genuinely praising Him in any way close to how effusively I could describe a favorite donut or musician — which felt terrible to admit, but actually led to a breakthrough. Related to that, I might also ask, in your prayers, if this is an area where you need to yield or persist.

      So many times, I’ve felt trapped between two possible reactions to something, neither of which seemed quite right (or emotionally healthy, in some cases), but as I’ve wrestled through that with God, He’s shown me a third way that I could embrace whole-heartedly.

  3. Megan says:

    I will be joining you in praying for those men on Valentine’s day. Thanks for reminding me. I had recently read about a women who had been saved and delivered out of prostitution and she voiced not hating the “johns,” but feeling sorry for them. She said that she knew some of them are supposed to be pastors or evangelists, etc.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    What a beautiful thing God put in your heart to pray 4 on Valentine’s Day. I will certainly say a prayer with you 4 these men. I will continue to believe that God will do what seems impossible for me, bring me a Godly man.

  5. austriagom says:

    Thanks. I needed this, too, that despite disappointments God is bigger than my perspective, and my trust in Him and prayer life need to grow in boldness.

    • It’s SO hard to not just focus on the disappointments, that’s for sure. I hope that God honors your efforts to trust Him. I just saw a staging of the Screwtape Letters a few weeks ago, that had a line about that … Sorry I can’t remember it, but it was something about the idea that it’s really radical and/or really pleases God when we trust and obey Him despite our doubts, and despite the present circumstances.

  6. RLynn says:

    Thanks for this week’s entry. I see-saw about being hopeful and hopeless. This weekend I was wrestling with whether to stop praying about this all together–I am so tired; but still wanted to pray for others. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • I struggle a lot with that, too. For some reason, I think that’s why WALKing to pray has been so helpful to me. Just tonight, I felt like I needed to go for a walk to work some things out, and I didn’t really feel like, but out I went, and after a few minutes just talking through my struggles and emotions with God, I got to a point where I could pray about some things. It might not be for everyone, but walking to pray has been THE richest practice in my spiritual life. There’s just something incredibly and powerful that’s continued to happen through it. I can’t recommend it enough.

  7. Andrea says:

    Love the image on the website: X morphing into a cross.

  8. Lauran Bethell says:

    Wonderful, Anna, that you’re encouraging people to pray for the johns! On Valentine’s Day this year, I’ll be visiting women in prostitution in The Netherlands, hoping and praying that they’ll come to know God’s True Love. And when the johns come to buy them during our visits, yes, I silently pray for them, that God’s Love would reach their wounded hearts, as well. I hope many will join this movement of prayer you’re encouraging! Thanks!

  9. Jenn says:

    There’s an article from the Washington Post people might find interesting, maybe consoling if being in company relieves the misery

  10. Jenn says:

    Any suggestions anyone on how to escape Valentines day, besides crawling under a rock?

  11. Matilda says:

    Hi there, I will be joining you both on Mondays and Valentines Day for prayer…I’m in Australia so there is a time difference, but that’s ok 🙂
    Thanks for your obedience in starting both these prayer initiatives.

    • Thanks, Matilda! That’s so cool. I have really hoped this will be more of a global thing and not just U.S-based, so that’s really exciting to hear. 🙂 So neat, the way both this group/blog and other things help connect the church universal.

  12. smvernalis says:

    Wow, thanks Anna! What a great reminder to ask God BOLDLY for things we know honor Him!

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