Effective Wrestling?

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. 

Welcome to Monday. Mondays for me are always about prying my eyes open and trying to face the world. Currently, that world is a swirling mess. It seems like most of my life is in transition: church, job, small groups, ministries, and possibly, housing.

All this transition… except in the one area that I want the most: I still see no “progress” or tangible hope that God has my relationship status on His to-do list. And, as usual, my only option is to fluff my hair, participate in Wear-a-Dress Week,* and pray.

Also, as usual, I wrestle with whether or not prayer really amounts to anything.

As God would have it, my new small group is covering the topic of prayer this fall, and earlier this week, we launched into discussing the purpose of prayer, the pain of seemingly unanswered prayer, and prayer’s power.  My thoughts naturally turned to the FastPray community.

We’ve seen God bring about marriages—that tangible “answer.” But, on the flip side, many of us are still experiencing silence, stagnant dating waters, and no tangible, statistical hope. While the group was discussing prayer and Acts 12 (James’s execution and Peter’s miraculous escape from prison), my heart asked questions:

  • Does prayer cause God to act?

  • Is prayer really about outcomes and answers at all?

  • When God brings about what you’ve been praying for, is your prayer more effective than the person who didn’t see the answer they wanted?

Tough stuff for the first night of a new community group, right? It could have been easy to get lost in some of the intellectual and logical debate, but in that moment, I was so thankful for this community. The answers to those questions are an integral part of how we pray within this community.

Here’s how the Holy Spirit encouraged my heart:

Is prayer really about outcomes and answers at all?  Yes. Prayer is about outcomes and answers. We are commanded to bring our prayers and petitions before God boldly and expect answers (while acknowledging that we often cannot even understand God’s answers).

Does prayer cause God to act? Yes. In His grace to us as believers, He allows our prayers to be apart of Him accomplishing His will. Prayer is not just a mystical experience with God, but instead—it is effective action. We may not be able to measure that effectiveness, but we can trust that God wants us to be active participants in His will. 

When God brings about what you’ve been praying for, is your prayer more effective than the person who didn’t see the answer they wanted? No. God in His sovereignty chooses to act for His glory and our good. Prayer is about asking God, yes, but it is also about wrestling with Him. (Somehow, that struggle is a means of grace in our lives—see Emily’s post last week.)

For us, we come to God asking for marriage, heart change for women, and courage for men. We come—not in arrogance—saying, “We want to be married! Therefore, we deserve it, God!”

Instead, we say, “God, here is my heart’s desire. Here is my weakness. Here is… me.” And, by praying, we are acknowledging that in this time and place, God is choosing to use singleness in our lives to prune away the dead branches and grow us into Christ’s likeness.

We just have to enter the wrestling match. He’ll take care of the rest.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Wrestling with you,
Anna

 

 

*Wear-a-Dress Week may or may not be a fictitious occurrence that some ladies you may or may not know might have invented in as a way of reminding themselves that God has created them feminine and beautiful—regardless of their current relationship statuses. 
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17 Responses to Effective Wrestling?

  1. Ange says:

    I am so glad I came across this post! Im so excited to be partnering in prayer with this community and join this. I love what God is doing through this fast.pray online ministry – thank you to all who write, comment, and share.. your vulnerability is healing.

  2. Anne says:

    Great post, Anna. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Katy says:

    I love how you talk about prayer being effective, about it being a part of him accomplishing his will in our lives. I have seen this firsthand. Not only have I wrestled with, begged, prayed, cried. But I have a sweet friend Sarah (who just got married Saturday) who has prayed for her single friends for the past year (while she was dating/engaged) She had been single and struggled with it and was praying that those in similar situations would meet nice men and women. It is a joke among us that you want to be on sarah’s prayer list…because since she started praying for us, one man got married, three of us our in serious relationships, two more friends have just started relationships. All in 12-18 months.

    I certainly don’t credit her for God’s work in our lives but I do believe her prayer was a part of God working in our lives, that He used her prayers. As someone who is dating someone and was on her prayer list, I couldn’t be more thankful that she thought to pray for us. It encouraged me even more in my prayers for myself and others, single and married — because praying is used by the Lord.

    So keep praying ladies 🙂 for yourselves and eachother. and if you are married or engaged, etc, pray for your single friends. Even if I had not met someone, I was so encouraged that Sarah loved me enough to pray for me in a very personal way. That alone made me feel loved and less alone.

    • Daniela says:

      I can fully agree with you Katy! I myself know for sure that there are a number of people praying for me with regards to my singleness – on a regular basis. If we ourselves make the “search for a husband” a matter of earnest prayer, and if even trusted friends pray with us for God’s will to be fulfilled in our lives (in His timing) – what can go wrong then?

    • fast. pray. says:

      We love hearing stories like that. Thanks for sharing!

      ❤ Anna

  4. Jen says:

    Another great post! Funnily enough, the sermon at my church on Sunday discussed the passage in Genesis about Jacob wrestling with God. Super interesting. and the fact that the Lord heard his plea – and there was still struggle and a resistance that ended up costing Jacob something (aka the limp). Don’t know if that makes any sense.

    Also!! I recently read an AMAZING book that I want to recommend to all of you because it truly is so encouraging. It’s called “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not”. It’s a memoir but it’s all about a woman who finds God amidst her desire for a husband (it’s a lot better than how I’m describing it). This isn’t a mindless plug; I really do recommend it!

  5. Daniela says:

    Thank you Anna for this very insightful post.

    “When God brings about what you’ve been praying for, is your prayer more effective than the person who didn’t see the answer they wanted?”

    This one struck me. My simple answer on this question would be: “It’s all about the Lord’s timing.”

    I remember when I was 25 years old, I did a summer language course in the French part of Switzerland. It was a beautiful country setting where we were staying at. One evening, it was still light, I decided to go outside by myself for a little walk. I remember kneeling down on the grass looking at the beautiful Swiss scenery around me – the pasture, the trees, the mountains… And I remember praying – very hard. Indeed, I was pleading with the Lord: “My Father, please, please, give me a husband!”

    After finishing, I thought the Lord would surely answer this prayer very soon, because I had prayed so fervently! Well, this is a little over 15 years ago now and I’m still a single woman. But looking back on these 15 years that have passed by, I’m so thankful for everything. If it had worked out with any of the men I became interested in the subsequent years; I can only say: “Oh my!” – because none of them would have been the right match for me. Now, I’m getting to know this man who really seems to be the right match – and yet, things are not moving very fast. However, I have this peace in my heart that, if it’s for HIS glory, the Lord will work it out IN HIS TIMING!

    May God bless you and all of us as we are seeking to do His will this week,

    Daniela

  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you for encouragment to pray…I was single till I was 30…and just got married last month…but its harder than I thought it would be. So now I am praying fervantly for wisdom and love…as I see my flesh selfishly wanting my own way, or wanting my husband to meet all my needs. I was a part of this group as a single, and remain a part of this group as a married woman…and I still need the encouragement that these weekly emails bring. Honestly, I feel like any issue I had as a single woman is magnified now that I am married. Anyway, I am thankful for these weekly emails.

  7. Jennifer Erickson says:

    I have always loved the story of how Jacob wrestled with God and “won”….i.e. it was ok, and yes, he did bear the mark of that wrestling match so he would never forget that God heard him and in fact, blessed him. There is cost in intercession and sometimes even the affirmative answers have a cost involved (to have one thing is Not to have another etc.) But….the greater cost is not to engage in the battle and dialogue with the One who knows and loves supremely. I love your heart!! i love your transparency. I love how you are willing to do the hard work of asking, of staying in the battle and growing in trust no matter what the outcomes. …This isn’t about resignation (though sometimes that’s all we can do) but the confidence that prayer does in fact make a difference and God knows what we struggle with anyway so why not talk it out, wrestle it out?? Thank you. All of you who write these musings. You’re so honest and so wonderful and so……challenging and encouraging. May God Bless you!!

    Jennifer E.

  8. connienoelle says:

    Thanks for this, Anna. Keep wrestling with those thoughts about prayer.

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