Lately I have been processing a lot of heavy things. Friends fighting cancer, people processing trauma from their past, grieving over loss, hungry triplet infants in the village, loved ones struggling, budget concerns and the list goes on. Last week we had the opportunity to go on a two day leadership team prayer retreat which allowed for some extended times of personal prayer and worship. This time was such a blessing in many ways. Below is a photo of our Leadership team along with the speaker and his wife. The retreat focus was "Unity in Diversity." It was a great time of praying, worshiping and working together.
As we arrived my heart was heavy with several of the above concerns. I was talking with one of my friends who shared with me about a way she was writing in her prayer journal. She would write, "Today, I am trusting you (God) to...." and then she would list her specific concerns. It was very helpful to me to think of my prayer requests in this way. All too often I tell God about all of the problems and then leave my prayer times discouraged because I have talked about all the heavy things on my mind, but did not focus on the One who has these things in His hands. So I wrote, " God, today I trust you to care for these people who I love and are hurting. I know that I am not the solution to their hurts, but you are. I trust you to comfort them and provide the help that they need." I also listed specifically some help that I was trusting God to provide for specific people. Then I wrote, "Father, I am trusting you today to provide for all of our needs. I don't need to worry. Instead, help me to work diligently while trusting you to be the One to provide."
During another prayer time at that retreat I remembered how a pastor who recently visited GSF encouraged us to praise God using the alphabet to guide us. So during this time I wrote out truths about who God is from A-Z. After praying in these ways I had much more peace about the many concerns that had been on my mind. While many of those situations are still not easy, and it is appropriate to grieve at times, I was able to trust that God is still good, in control, and even working for our good in each of these situations.
That very evening, David and I received an email from a friend offering encouragement and significant financial support. It was such a gift from the Lord. While I had been praying about finances and asking God for help, I had not been actually trusting Him with those things. My prayers had been more like venting my frustrations instead of entrusting my concerns to the God of the Universe who is able to do all things! A few days later, I heard of another specific answer to one of my prayer requests for others.
Obviously, God does not always answer with such a clear, affirmative response. There are times when I have prayed for years without a clear answer to a concern. But I do find that when I am praying and focusing on entrusting my concerns to the Lord, while meditating on His character, I have much more peace in the midst of these struggles.