On Mondays, we pray and fast for three things. We pray that God would do a work in our generation to give the gift of marriage to those who desire it—despite the odds. We pray that God would soften the hearts of women—to make them more like Christ. We also pray for men, that God would embolden them to lead, both in relationships and in the church.
I love maps, probably a little too much. I love them all. Topographical maps, artsy maps, political maps—and especially, road maps. I love seeing the beginnings, all the possible options in the middle, and where the road might eventually end. I think that my love of maps gets in the way of hearing God. Just like when I map out a road trip—with the possible routes and alternatives—I want my life to have that same option. I want GoogleMaps for Anna’s Life. I want to see the estimated travel time, the traffic congestion, and the destination.
But, as you well know, life—romantic or otherwise—doesn’t really work that way.
The other FastPray writers and I have had a quite a few conversations about dating, our desire for marriage and family, and our Myers-Briggs types. In fact, we actually live in this nebulous, emotional world where we are attempting keep each other accountable and encouraged on this journey. Talking—probably too much—about realities that we can’t define or rely on, contingencies that don’t really exist. There’s no promise in Scripture that we will marry and have a family. There’s no promise that we will join the 2.5 WPF Club.
All I have in terms of map-like evidence probably is a much less scandalous and dramatic story line from “He’s Just Not That Into You”—and yet, I crave this concrete proof that God hears me and is answering this prayer. I want a shortlink showing me that my “meh” (non-dating) dating life has a happy destination—that this chapter will end.
I could go round and round with my disappointments and uncertainties—or I can do the difficult thing, the uncomfortable thing and go to the gym (the spiritual discipline gym). God hasn’t given a point A to B map, but He has given plenty of evidence that He hears and cares. There are so many stories from Scripture of people who had nothing but the word of a God—who seemed far away from their pain—that He would take care of them.
One story comes specifically to my mind, the story of Anna—a footnote on the Christmas story that you may or may not remember. After the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, and they meet Simeon—a man who received a promise from God that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Messiah. They also meet a really incredible, but probably really weird, old woman.
Luke writes in Chapter 2:26-38:
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
From what we know in the text, Anna received no such promise from God that she would see the Messiah, and yet, in her (probably) impoverished widowhood, abnormal, 24/7 prayer-warrior life—she never stopped praying and hoping and waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. And after 84 years of being a widow and who knows how many years praying and fasting in the temple, Anna received her tangible evidence that God was going to set right the wrongs and redeem His people.
As we close out this calendar year fasting and praying, I want to remind myself and our whole community that we serve a God who sent His only Son to be a tangible expression of His love and care for us. We may not have the answers we’re looking for, but, as to the answers that we genuinely need, He has abundantly provided.
If you see gaps between what you feel you need from the Lord and what He’s given, run to Him, rely on His first coming—as you wait for His second. Your fasting and praying, like Anna’s, is effective before the throne.
As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, [ ] was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 1 Corinthians 1:18-22