I have been writing my prayers down for about 2 years now. It's a practice I abandoned after college graduation when life got busier. I don't remember why exactly I picked it up again, but I do know it's done wonders for me. I used to write everything long-hand in a journal. Until my arm went numb and, out of necessity, I graduated to Microsoft Word.
Having a written record of my prayer life is a fascinating thing. I can go back and physically high-light prayers that were answered. I can see the hand of God in a very real sense when I go back and explore my private prayers.
During this time I've come to have a deeper understanding of how God designed prayer to work. About three weeks ago I felt God urging me to pray about something very specific. Something that, to my unseeing eyes, seemed very unlikely and slightly impractical. After getting over those first few inklings of "Did God really say this?" I decided there was no harm in telling God that I thought He was requesting me to pray for something and that if it was His will, that I indeed, would pray for it.
So I told my husband about my challenge to pray everyday for a month for this specific request. I wanted some accountability, so I shared my desires with him. Last night, three weeks into my prayer challenge, I prayed to God about how the likelihood of my request seemed even less plausible than ever. I prayed that I would understand why He'd laid this desire on my heart if it was so unfathomable. It felt so very far out of reach.
I closed my laptop and walked to my kids' bedroom where we went though their daily bedtime routine together. First on the agenda, reading a book. Micah chose his kid's Bible and said he'd been trying to read a story but was having trouble with one of the main words. He showed me the page and I read, "God Helps Gideon." I racked my feeble memory... which one was Gideon?
We didn't get too far into the story before I was smiling about the genius of my God. He would answer my question through my child's Bible story book! He connected the dots for me as I read about Gideon.
Gideon has a big army to fight the Midianites (Judges 7) and God tells him he has to send home some of the soldiers. Once his army is cut significantly in number, God tells him to send home all but 300 men. God says he did this so that Israel could not boast that their own strength had saved them.
In other words, God took a difficult situation and made the odds even worse. If Las Vegas betting lines had been open back then, everyone would have put their money on the Midianites. I recognized my own story in Gideon's. I was praying for something that had no earthly reason to happen. But it was suddenly clear to me, if this God-given prayer request does come to fruition, there will be no one to take the glory except God himself.
When all things point to "no," and God still manufactures a resounding "YES," we can be humbled and awe-struck by the deftness of His might!
He doesn't need the circumstances to be favorable. He doesn't need the right political environment. He doesn't need your help, or mine. He definitely doesn't need my pleas and prayers to make it happen. But He must long for us to join Him in a petition that He, himself put on our hearts.
Isn't that a beautiful pattern of prayer? We can say, "God, what would you have me pray for?" And He'll meld our hearts to passionately crave those same things He has already destined. And then when we come to Him and ask for those things, we've come full circle. The desires of our heart have indeed become the desires of His. And no one gets the glory but Him!
During a brief online research about dear, old Gideon, I came across a guy who penned an expression that I've adopted in the title of this post. He says that sometimes God pulls a "Gideon!"
Have you seen an unlikely outcome become a real thing in the hands of God?