When Prayer Gets Answered

This is your weekly reminder that we are fasting and praying on Monday at lunch for the Lord to bring men and women into relationship with Him, for men to become leaders in relationships, for women to see and change in those areas of our hearts that aren’t in harmony with and obedient to Christ, and for God-honoring marriages to be given to those who desire them. 

Over the summer, my two younger sisters confirmed the seriousness of their relationships (just waiting for the ring) with their boyfriends, and my roommate and dear friend of six years found a wonderful Christian guy with all the signs pointing towards marriage (soon) for them.

So…I will be the only sister going home for the holidays this year, and it will be a little lonely without my siblings. I’ll probably be house/apartment searching this spring, facing the adjustment to a new roommate when I have been spoiled by getting along so well with the same one for so many years. I will have to learn how to relate to my soon-to-be married friend and sisters now that they are in a different zip code relationally.

And while I will own up to spending more time that I would like to admit avoiding these realities by soothing my soul with Netflix and chocolate ice cream, and perhaps I am worrying about these changes prematurely (this is the way my brain works), I’m learning to be thankful for these changes. The key word here being learning.

I have been a part of the fast.pray. community for a little over a year now, praying and fasting on Mondays for God to bring men and women to Himself, for the Lord to help me change in the areas where I need to change, and for marriages for those who desire to be married. My sisters and my roommate have been at the top of my prayer list, and my prayer has been that the Lord will bring Christian men into their lives who make them happy.

And He has.

The other part of my prayer specifically for my two younger sisters is that the Lord would spare them from the pain of singleness that I have experienced. While my singleness has allowed me to meet many amazing people and do many things I probably would not get to do as a married person, it’s also a struggle, and not necessarily something I would wish for two of the people I love the most.

When the desire surfaces to feel sorry for myself as the older sister whose younger sisters are going into marriage before her, I am learning to say a prayer of thanksgiving that God is answering my Monday prayer for them. And then I say another prayer of thanksgiving because the fact that I am able to pray such a prayer is evidence that He’s changing my heart where it needs to be changed.

So let’s continue to pray for marriages and changes in our hearts, but let’s intentionally pray “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6) and “giving thanks in all circumstances” (I Thessalonians 5:17-18). It’s this prayer of thanksgiving that creates a mindset of praying with expectation– to not be taken by surprise when God answers prayer, to not be discouraged or jealous when God answers prayers made on behalf of others.

The best part of this whole praying with thanksgiving thing is that it’s paired with an oh-so-precious promise: “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

With a thankful (and guarded by the peace of God) heart,

Emily

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40 Responses to When Prayer Gets Answered

  1. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning
    this write-up and the rest of the site is extremely good.

  2. Laura Jean says:

    Oh Emily, that was the best post I’ve read in a long time!!! Really spoke to me today. Thanks so much for having the courage & vulnerability to write that. :’-) happy-tears

  3. Katy says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I had to struggle through watching my younger sister get married (soon after my own engagement ended) 5 years ago. She now has a 15 month old son. Its a difficult place to be emotionally and spiritually because you feel so many things — Joy for them, excitement for the growth of a family through marriage and babies, but dissapointed in your own circumstances.

    I make it through by letting myself mourn my own dissapointments and trying to be as supportive as possible. This sometimes means taking a step back. (IE, I was at the ‘afterparty’ the night she got engaged and celebrated then cried all the way home…; I said congrats when she called about the pregnancy then got off the phone and mourned that pain before making plans to be the best aunt ever.) In a perfect world, I wouldn’t be waiting while her life fell together so easilly. I would be experiancing my own joyful celebrations over marriage and babies. But I know all too well, this world isn’t perfect.

    I don’t know why the Lord allowed things to work our for her and for things not to work out (yet) for me. I no longer think it implies she is prettier, more fun, better — I just realized thats how His plan is unfolding. It’s not her fault. And, as you said, I certainly don’t wish her the pain I have experianced as a single.

    What makes things easier is that over the past few years (not at first), my sister has become my biggest cheerleader as far as dating and praying for a spouse. She is always interested in who I am dating and wants to know details and makes a big deal out of the “big moments” in my life (work, running a race, date, etc) So, married folks who read this sight, remember that one of the best things you can do for your single friends is rejoice and mourn with them as they rejoice with you.

    I continue to pray for ANSWERS for you ladies. I have been praying with this group for awhile now and have been dating a sweet man for 8+ months. I do believe that fervently coming before the Lord regarding my desire for relationship and possibly marriage did not “accidently” coincide with meeting him!! The Lord is at work in our lives so keep praying!

    • Emily says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, Katy, and for also sharing the good news about your relationship! Praying God’s best for you.

      Emily

    • Daniela says:

      Thank you for your post Katy! In fact, I just read your blog post of September 11 and wanted to comment on it, but I’m having trouble with the word verification. So I’m pasting it below. Recently, I have written an article where I also have commented on this common exclamation: “Once you are happy and content as a single, the Lord will give you a spouse.” That’s crap!

      I also wanted to tell you that I’m happy for you that you are dating a sweet man. I started praying and fasting with this group last year in summer, and in fact, I do have a prospect now as well…

      Comment on blog:
      Thank you for this honest article Katy! I think you are absolutely right. The Lord is not playing “mind games” with us. We don’t have to achieve a certain “state of mind” before He gives us what we are longing for. Wouldn’t this sound like “righteousness by works” anyway? Like we have to do something in order to “gain” salvation? This is just a comparison, but I think it hits the nail.

      I don’t really like my singleness either (especially not because I recently turned 40!). But what I have recently found ist, that if I immerse myself in working for God’s Kingdom (I’m very much involved in ministry), then I can be happy and content – DESPITE my circumstances.

      May the Lord bless you as you seek to live for HIM!

      • Andrea says:

        And I find that the highest quality men are out there serving in ministries as well…not the professional daters .

      • T says:

        I’d like to see or be directed to a post suggesting helpful hints of how to flourish in a church that subscribes to beliefs like that. I think a lot of us have been hurt by comments within the church suggesting that because we haven’t been married, we must not be good enough, and because we aren’t married (and moms) we aren’t good enough as women or Christians. There is a lot of negative fall-out to this including, I believe, feelings of lack of womanhood (can’t think of an equivalent to emasculate) and a sense of shame that ultimately contributes to a delay of many of us having what we’re asking for. I think it’s hard for God to grant the desires of our hearts if deep down we doubt we deserve them at least as much as everyone else. How does one stay positive and still remain an active member of their church? I had to take a break from the church to clear my mind and hear what God was really telling me about this season, but I think it would be best if it can be done within the body, not in spite of it.

        • Emily says:

          T,
          This concept of shame (especially at/within the church) is something that some of the fast.pray. bloggers have been wrestling with – in fact, we had a lengthy conversation about it yesterday! Your comment is confirmation that this is something we need to explore on fast.pray. Be looking for something in the near future!
          Emily

        • Andrea says:

          I feel like in the Body we are to value and support everyone…I give you permission to find a church where you are validated and esteemed! We Are clothed in strength and dignity Prov. 31:25.

        • T says:

          Emily,
          Thank you. I think churches need to understand that they are contributing to the problem and if they can’t be encouraging, they should at least not be discouraging! For me, it was valuable to take a break from the body, but I know this isn’t the best way to do things. One has to give a lot of grace both to the church and to themselves in order to move forward!

      • Emily says:

        Daniela,

        I am right there with you – cannot stand when someone uses the “happy/content as a single then you will get a spouse” cliche. Thank you for the reminder to be involved in ministry and the blessings it brings!

        Emily

  4. Natalie says:

    Thank you! Both my siblings are younger than me and already married. I’ve thought about going home for the holidays as the only single one as well. It’s encouraging to hear that someone else understands this feeling. I’m not sure if it is the pain of being the oldest AND last single adult, the pity from others that I may get (“encouragements”) or my selfishness that will be the hardest with which to cope. Whatever happens, I’m praying that God will give me the grace to be happy for them as well as immense joy in where He has me for this season of my life and of the year.

    Thank you for this reminder!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Natalie – so sorry this response is a little delayed! I missed a few comments.
      You are not alone in this feeling of being the oldest and single (also see Amy’s post today Oct.1), and for some reason, I feel like the holidays only intensify the feeling of singleness awareness. Praying with you that God will give strength and grace and joy!

  5. Joanne says:

    Hi Emily,

    My little sister got married 11 years ago this month, and my older sister has been married longer. In a few weeks, my one-year-younger sister will be married. I’ll be the only single sister in the wedding party. It’s not fun to be the last one, but something in me has to believe that God has a very special purpose in allowing us to wait the longest. Certainly, there are special intimate blessings of knowing Him better. Like you, I am happy for my sister(s). Thanks for your reminder to pray with thanksgiving. It will be one of my strategies for heading into my sister’s happy season, and for being happy with her. God has good things for you and me both!

    • Emily says:

      Joanne,
      Thanks for sharing the reminder that God has a very special purpose for the wait. He DOES have good and perfect gifts for us!
      Hoping in Him!
      Emily

  6. Allyson says:

    I was married for 26 yrs; I thought we would be together forever. But he left for a younger woman. I have recently reconnected with God and believe like the rest of you to wait on God for a husband. I’m not real sure about what the scriptures say about marrying twice. But my hearts desire is to marry a Godly man. Thank you Emily for your encouraging words. They provide hope and encouragement!
    Ally

    • Emily says:

      Ally, so sorry for the delay in response! I missed a few comments!
      Humbled and giving all glory to Him for using my situation to encourage you. Thank you for sharing your story, and I am praying today that you will continue to grow in your relationship with the Lord and that He will direct your path.

  7. janakaye says:

    Thanks, Emily. My younger sister and co-homeowner got married a week ago, and my (6 years) younger brother is in a serious relationship, as well as both of my roommates. It’s so critical to recognize all that I do have to be grateful for, even when it’s so easy to compare lives and get very grumpy about it.

    • Emily says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Jana! It helps knowing that we are coming before the Lord together about very similar circumstances. We aren’t alone, even though we may sometimes feel like it.

  8. amy says:

    so true, emily! and one of the things i’m grateful for today is you — and your honesty and graciousness while waiting on the Lord’s timing are such an encouragement and example…

    • Emily says:

      Thank you, Amy! All the praise goes to Him…as I said in the post, it’s an on-going process that I am still learning. Thankful that He is patient with me because I am not always a very good student!

  9. Kristin says:

    Sweet Emily, I have been there! You have great perspective, though. My friends started getting married my junior year of college and it hasn’t stopped in the last 18 years. Now they are sending kids off to college.
    I still pray with thanksgiving and with expectation for God’s will.
    Let me encourage you to NOT retreat and pull away from these friends/sisters. I did that a few times as a defense mechanism in the midst of self-protection and sadness. Those few relationships have healed now, but it took time and humility on my part. Be honest with these friends/sisters if it is a hard day. They want to know that you are rejoicing with them but that it can still be hard sometimes.

    Thanks for the thanksgiving reminder today!

    • Emily says:

      Thank you for the advice, Kristin, that comes from the wisdom of experience! The whole concept of how to relate to our engaged/married/married-with-kids friends is a discussion Amy, Anna, and I want to explore more this fall with fast.pray., especially since we find ourselves struggling with it more and more often.

  10. Anne says:

    Great post, Emily. It is so wonderful and so hard to see God answer prayers for marriage for others! I appreciated your honesty.

  11. Gretchen says:

    Hi Emily (and all) – First, I just want to say thanks to those who have been writing on this blog – what a great encouragement! I find myself looking forward to what will come on Sunday night (now probably Monday morning since just moved to Europe). I’ve been fasting and praying with you all for a little over a year and I see the benefits in my own heart.

    The days leading up to the wedding of my sister (9 years younger than I am) were really tough for me. (And I was the maid of honor, so I was involved in everything). I was kind of dreading the actual wedding day. During my quiet time that morning, somehow God just showed up and met me – hard to put into words, but I knew He was there, and I remember feeling His sustaining power throughout that day in a way that I rarely have. I don’t know how I would have made it through the day otherwise, and it seems that He knew that. It was good to be thankful for his presence in the midst of that challenging day.

    So all that to say that I’m definitely with you on the younger sister getting married first thing, and the peace that transcends understanding is not just words in a book. It’s real! Keep praying and thanking!

    • Emily says:

      Gretchen – so sorry for the delayed response! I missed a few comments.
      Thank you so much for sharing your story! It’s a testimony of God working in hearts, despite circumstances, to transcend those circumstances and fill them with His joy. YOU are an encouragement to me today!

  12. Jen says:

    Emily,

    This is a wonderful post! I’m so excited to pray through this today at lunch; I’ve been going through some similar experiences lately with a dear friend getting close to engagement, which I did pray for, but now I feel bereft. What a great reminder to think of the fact that indeed, we shouldn’t be surprised when God answers prayer :).

    • Emily says:

      Jen,
      Glad this was encouragement for you! Granted, this is all easier said than done, but purposefully being thankful and accepting the promised peace has made a huge difference for me.
      Praying peace for you today!
      Emily

  13. Kirsten says:

    Emily, thank you. I am in such a similar place right now and keenly aware of the ways in which God needs to change my heart rather than my circumstances. (Of course I’d love it if he changed my circumstances too!). I’ll be praying alongside you tomorrow, for God to bring the heart changes necessary to help us embrace whatever comes with thanksgiving.

    • Emily says:

      Kirsten,
      I’m with you in praying for a change in circumstances as well as in heart/attitude! Love this community where we can come before the Lord together.

  14. Daniela says:

    Thank you so much for this post Emily. My heart goes out to you. I must say that I’m thankful for not having a younger sister, but I do have a cousin who is 16 years younger than I, and in fact, she is in a marriagable age. Indeed, it’s one of the most traumatic imaginations I can think of, if my dear cousin would get married before me! Nevertheless, God’s timing with everything is perfect, and I’m so thankful for this peace He has given me – especially lately, as I do have a prospect (and everything seems to be just perfect), yet I still can’t know for sure whether this is going to work out…

    • Emily says:

      Daniela,
      Rejoicing with you in your report of peace and a prospect and praying for His guidance in your relationship. This is what fasting and praying is all about!

  15. Katy says:

    Your graciousness is an example to us all and is evident of the Lord’s love in you.

    • Emily says:

      Thank you, Katy! I know that this is Him supernaturally working in me to create this change – on my own, I know the bitterness would be overwhelming. To Him be the glory!

  16. andrea csia says:

    wow, thank you Emily. the man whose eyes God will open to “see” you will be blessed with a gem 🙂

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