If Dabo Swinney called me, I admit, I would love it. But I can honestly say I love it more when I look at my vibrating cell phone and see the name of one of the young people I love to encourage, especially the ones seeking spiritual things. I recently had one of those fun talks. I had the opportunity to encourage a young man I have known since he was 10. He is now 23! He has some major life events going on right now and was eager to talk about them and flesh them out on the phone. After 20 or so minutes, we got around to one of my very favorite subjects, prayer.
Prayer has been a big part of my life for a long time but 5 years ago I started a steady climb of building a bigger “wall of prayer” in my life. I get excited, really giddy, when there is someone looking to do the same thing. The young man on the other end of the phone really wanted to learn to hear and recognize God’s voice more often and clearly. With that being said, I will share with you what I shared with him.
I have found the more specific I get with God in my prayers the more specific He gets in His answers. Allow me to explain. Once upon a time, my prayers were vague. They went something like this…
“God, thank you for sending your son Jesus to die for my sins. Please forgive me when I sin. Help me to do good today and not evil. Protect and guide me”…and so forth.
I hope you get the picture. In the last 5 years my prayers have started with a heart of worship and just thanking God for who He is. Just praising Him. Then I move into a time of confessing every wrong or sin that He brings to mind. Sometimes I have to sit and think. During that time I ask Him to convict my heart during the day and help me to recognize my sin right then so that I can confess it. God has honored my prayer by showing me throughout the day when I have sinned. Nothing like stopping in your tracks to ask for forgiveness!
Next, I go to a time of thankfulness and give God a heart of gratitude for all that I have and all He has done for me and others. Last, I petition Him for things…like prayers for others. I get specific for individuals. When it comes to myself, I get specific about my day and days ahead–down to what I should buy at the store to where I should go to lunch and who I should call to encourage.
I ask that He would show me at the gym if there is someone I should reach out to and talk to. I even ask where I should park. What I have found is that the more specific I get with God on the who’s, the when’s, the where’s and the how’s….HE gets specific with me and then confirms it. When I have taken the time in the morning to specifically pray about my day and all that is on my plate, I see Him in the little details. Let me give you a very brief example.
One Wednesday, during my morning prayer time, I specifically asked God to show me someone who could help me with visuals for my speaking engagement for a Youth Impact Weekend. I had prepared the material for the topic I was speaking on and I knew that if I wanted to be truly effective in what I had to say, I needed great visuals. If you know me or even if you don’t, let me just say, God overlooked me when it came to the gift of art and being creative.
As I got into my car to drive to the gym, about an hour after my quiet time, God spoke to me in the way I have become accustomed to and is specific to me. I had that pressing on my chest and the voice in my head that told me to drive to Crayton Middle School to see if my kids’ elementary and middle school art teacher could help.
As I drove, I said to the Lord, “I don’t even know, Lord, if Erin Fisher is teaching there anymore. What if she is there and is busy? What if I don’t know the person at the front desk and they won’t let me go to her room to ask for her help? What if she is there and can’t help?” I just kept driving despite the questions running around in my head. I parked, got out and went inside, passing a security guard who looked vaguely familiar.
First, the good news was that Jenny Walker still worked the front desk. It was great to go down memory lane with her and feel the familiar of the past. Second, I told her I needed to see Erin Fisher and asked if she still taught art at the school. Jenny smiled and gave me that once again familiar laugh that I heard all through our kids middle school years. Erin did still work there and was, in fact, right there in the work room! WOW! What were the odds of me showing up during her planning period and have her be right in the front office work room rather than “miles” away in her classroom?
Erin heard her name mentioned and came out to ask how she could help. As I turned to her, Jenny Walker was handing Erin pen and paper as if she knew what I needed. It was quite the surreal moment. As I told Erin what I was thinking, she quickly sketched my thoughts on paper and said, “Done! I will deliver it to your house Saturday morning at 10 a.m.”
All I can say is this…..If you want God to show up and show out….get on HIS plan. Seek Him. Pray specifically and WATCH HIM WORK OUT every detail……..down to saving you a few minutes. I didn’t even have to walk down to the art room. AND, she delivered the perfect visuals on the day I needed them. Only God.
Folks, I am telling you, God is a God of order and detail. He cares about everything we do. Nothing gets past Him. You get specific with God and live and seek His plan for your life. HE will specifically show up and specifically answer. HE WILL SHOW you more times over and over…”I’ve got this!”
One of the best stories in the Bible that expresses how God shows up is the story of Abraham and God asking him to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. God stops him from completing the sacrifice and provides a lamb instead. Read the whole story for yourself in Genesis 22 but I want to share one verse with you, verse 14. “So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’”
Funny, the more I pray specifically, the more God answers short and specifically, such as….
“I’ve got this”
“Drop your hands”
Yes, when God speaks, it usually isn’t a long sentence. It is short, sweet and to the point. Try it. Get specific with God today. He will get specific with you! Just saying……….