Why Our Prayers Might Not Be Answered [+podcast]
Our Big Move #2
To quickly recap: In Spring of 2021, Sam and I felt a pull towards moving from Ontario, Canada to somewhere, USA. We weren’t entirely clear on that yet. But it wasn’t a decision we took lightly - we prayed, fasted, met with lawyers, accountants, real estate agents and whomever else we could think of and finally decided to move forward!
You can read the first part of our story here.
An interesting thing happens when you finally make that big decision you were praying over for so long. When you’ve gathered your gusto and determined that you’re doin’ it - that first step is pure exhilaration! Confidence radiates through your body - this is going to be great! But about 3.06 seconds later when your second foot leaves the ground, doubt, insecurity and “what-ifs” descend like the plague! (too soon?)
What have we just done? Are we crazy? Why did we think this was a good idea? By this time, it’s too late to turn back and the storm starts to surge and you can feel the swells rising higher and higher.
You could also say, this is about the time when things get real. We pray, but sometimes it feels like our prayers are hitting the ceiling!
Now, we have an enemy who does not want to see us make moves in the Kingdom of God. He is not creative nor is he original. He will use the same tactics over and over to paralyze us from pursuing the life God is leading us to.
Fear. Insecurity. Doubt. Division.
We had narrowed our search down to Texas or Florida. I was team Texas and Sam was team Florida. In a whirlwind, we had recently visited each State and had been praying about which area to choose - but we were divided.
I had a picture of what our life in Texas would be like: Saturdays would be at the field watching our boys play football and on Sundays we would have everyone from our super-Christian neighborhood to our house after church for a potluck and to watch the big game. We would all be laughing, wearing cowboy boots and eating delicious BBQ. Our kids would have the cutest little southern drawls and always respond, Yes, mam to my every request. How could Sam not see this perfect picture of what our life would become in Texas?
The life I imagined in Florida was quite different. It would be hot and sweaty. I felt it was too secular for our kids and I was concerned about finding a church or neighborhood we would love. I just couldn’t picture our life there and what Florida could do for us.
We knew a house divided against itself will not stand (Mark 3:25), and the only way forward was in unity. Sam wisely advised we shouldn’t take any more steps until we were on the same page. Ugh. We had finally made the decision to GO and now we were on hold again! I was crushed.
So, like any good Christian wife would do, I started to pray that God would change my husband.
Thankfully, I also got into my Bible. It’s amazing how God can speak to an obscure situation like geography through a 2,000 year old text - but that is exactly what He did!
On the second-last day of 2021, right before we rolled over into a new year, I found myself reading in the Psalms: In the morning Lord, you hear my voice, in the morning I plead my case to you and watch expectantly (Psalm 5:3).
I thought, I am doing this, God! I have been meeting with you every morning - I have made my case and have been waiting expectantly for an answer…and I hear nothing!
If this resonates, let me encourage you here because first of all - this is real. How many times have we all sat before God wondering why He isn’t answering. Sometimes it’s because it’s not the right time. Sometimes it’s because we have to hit the ground on our knees and keep praying. Sometimes the answer is just ‘no’ and we need to accept it. And other times - like this time - the answer is something else and it changed the way I pray.
In the margin beside this verse I had written a little note with a reference to James 4:3. So I quickly went to that scripture and it says this, When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Hoo Boy. That is sure a punch in the gut because it was bang on. I had been praying Sam would choose Texas simply because I thought it would serve us well. My motives were all backward and God so graciously revealed this to me. He did answer my prayer, just not in the way I had expected. It’s amazing how we can do all the spiritual things and still miss the point - my motives needed a quick heart-check.
I thought I knew what was best for our family and been praying for my will to be done. But Jesus teaches us to pray for GOD’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. (Matthew 6:10). Surrendering all my prayers to the will of God ensures His best will win out for me! I don’t have to control anything other than keeping my eyes on him and holding my desires loosely.
I confessed being selfish and immediately my perspective shifted to Florida. It truly felt like the right next-step. My prayers went to praise because the burden of selfishness lifted and it became clear that this move was not only about us. That got me even more excited than if it was! I knew we were moving with intention - and God was showing that He had a plan. So, I guess you could say Sam was right (this time).
Nine days after we united on team-Florida, we listed and sold our house within the week. Things were looking up!
We quickly turned our eyes to Realtor.com to find where we would start our new life in the Sunshine State. When we had previously visited the area, we toured a bunch of neighborhoods to see what we liked. There was one in particular that drew our eye over any other. It was a bit older than the others which brought beautiful mature trees. It was a small neighborhood with only 44 homes across three cul-de-sac streets. We had been praying for a neighborhood we would find community in, somewhere we would be able to meet and do life with neighbors. This seemed to promise all of that! And so as we drove through this area, Sam made sure I made a note about this street in the “potential neighborhood” notebook I had been scribbling notes in. Only, there weren’t many other places we had been compelled to make note of, so for the weeks since our visit, this area held its place at the top of our list.
And so you can imagine our excitement when a beautiful house on this very street came up for sale the very week we sold our home in Ontario. We were so excited! This is it! Obviously, this must be the house God has for us! Because the housing market was hot, we put in a stellar offer and from the positive feedback and understanding they would accept it, Sam booked a flight to Florida to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. Ah! It was really happening!
We had been praying for doors to open AND close throughout this whole process, knowing this was how God would put us right where he wanted us.
And close doors, He did.
(to be continued next week)
I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts!
How does James 4:3 resonate with you in the waiting for your prayers to be answered?
”When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”