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prayer

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3 Encouraging Ways To Keep Praying For Family

A few months ago I was visiting a church where a testimony was shared that changed my perspective on prayer. An older couple was getting baptized that morning. The woman, named Evelyn, began explaining that she actually grew up Seventh-Day Adventist. In fact, her father was a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor. She said that she never experienced a personal relationship with Jesus though she grew up in a very religious household. When she was 18 years old she married a man who was not religious at all and she decided to leave the church. Her parents were heartbroken by her decision but they accepted it. However, they spent the next 30 years praying that their daughter would return to the church and come to know Jesus for herself. Eventually, Evelyn’s parents passed away never knowing what their diligent prayer would result in. Finally, at the age of 71, Evelyn was driving down the road and a thought came to her mind that she had not considered in 53 years. “You should go to church, Evelyn.” Evelyn asked her husband to take her to church and he easily complied. The next Sabbath Evelyn and her husband walked through the doors of the church and the greeter immediately spotted them and made friends, she even signed them up for Bible studies. Six months later I got to witness Evelyn and her husband be baptized. Evelyn said that she truly believed that it was her parents’ faithful intercession that opened the door for the Holy Spirit to speak to her.

This testimony really touched me because most of my family are not in the church or religious at all. Often times, family can feel like the hardest to reach; you can’t always give your extended family Bible studies or pray with them. However, you can always pray for your family. I have seen God do miraculous things in my family because He loves to answer prayer.

Here are a few things I have found to be helpful when praying for family:

  1. Patience

Be patient with God’s timing, He knows what He’s doing. Sometimes we won’t see the answers to the prayers that we pray, but God hears them and He does answer. I like to keep a list of prayer requests and then put a check mark on each of the requests as they are answered. The key with this is writing down specific requests, it helps you see how much God is really doing in your family’s life as you’re praying for them. This way, you will not overlook the progress and your patience will be increased.

  1. Consistency

Have consistency in your prayer. In the past, I have been inconsistent about praying for my relatives usually stopping at busier times. One way I have tried to combat that is by giving myself visual prompts to pray for them. Write down the people you want to pray for on a note card/sticky note or set it as a reminder on your phone. I have also hung pictures around my house as a reminder of who I am wanting to pray for.

  1. Claim some promises

I think one of the most encouraging things is to see the promises God has for us when we ask for His help. Here are a few of my favorite promises to claim when I am praying for family:

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – Jeremiah 29:12

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. – Mark 11:24

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. – Romans 8:26

Devotions

When Your Hope Is Gone

Music is a way that God often speaks to my heart and soul.  There is a song by Bebo Norman called, Borrow Mine.

The chorus goes this way:

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
You can borrow mine
When you can’t go on
Cause the world will not defeat you
When we’re side by side
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

This is what my friends have been doing for me.  They have given me hope and strengthened my faith.  They have texted, prayed, sent messages, and gifts that speak to my heart on days where I am just crying out to God in the pain of waiting to be matched with our daughter.

Less than a week after we had received the news that we wouldn’t get the file of a little girl we had been praying for I received this package in the mail from my friend Brooke.

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I wept into this gift.  This tangible reminder of her love, of our commitment to pray, and to know that some day I will wrap her up in this blanket of prayer.

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone

Another time my friend, Jenn sent me this picture:

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This mirror is her prayer mirror and at the top are three names.  Thomas & Kate are her beautiful children, and right next to them is our Yín.  (The endearment we have for our daughter. We have not been matched with a child, we just use this endearment for her so she has a name.)  There have been many, many times where I have been struggling and God has impressed Jenn’s heart to reach out in a message or prayer to me and uplift me.

You can borrow mine
When you can’t go on

Last Friday another friend, Jennefer, sent me this picture.

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It is her “war room” where she does her best praying.  You see that red envelope standing out in the center?  That was from our red envelope fundraiser for Yín.  Jennefer wrote me and said: Just in case you ever feel discouraged that your sweet Yín isn’t with you yet and it seems like you will be waiting forever…just know I am waiting with you guys and praying. This is my “war room” where I do my best praying. Right in the middle is my red envelope and red thread and it reminds me of you guys and Yín and I am praying for her safety and her soon home coming too. Hang in there “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength…”

Cause the world will not defeat you
When we’re side by side

This past Sabbath was a very, very hard day.  It marked one year since we sent in our application to our adoption agency.  We’ve been waiting a year.  Today marks a year since they approved our application.  A year is a long time.  And my arms feel heavy in their emptiness.

But God knew that was coming and set up an event and friends who would hold me up.

My friend Charity felt impressed to pray about a certain concert and woman’s ministry event.  She felt impressed to ask me to go with her.  Another friend, Jackie, posted on Facebook that she was going and asked if anyone was interested.  I said, “Maybe.”  Then Charity texted me and invited me to go with her.  In the end Charity, Jackie, Krystal, and I all decided to meet up and go.

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That night ministered to my soul and these woman were such a blessing to be with.  I praise God for how He impressed Charity to ask me to go and how God never forgets a date.  He didn’t forget that it was a year and planned this, I believe, for my heart.

When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

Thank you.  Thank you to all of you who have let me borrow your faith on this long hard journey.  Some of you I have never met in real life, yet you are some of the ones who carry me in your prayer the most closely.  We are blessed beyond measure for you.

I pray that I can be what these prayer warriors have been for me to others.

And I want to encourage you.  You never know how you are strengthening those around you or how you are a profound answer to the prayers of others.

These women didn’t know the deep pain I was feeling on the particular days they reached out, but God did and He used them to minister His love.

Devotions

Answered and Unanswered Prayers

The day we knew we weren’t going to get the file of the little girl we had been waiting for Matthew misplaced his wedding ring.  We looked all over but couldn’t find it.  I stopped to pray.  And shortly after I found the ring!

I wanted to share with Edmund because I want to teach him about God’s love and care.  I told Edmund how we had been looking for Papa’s ring and that Mama prayed to God to find it and He helped me find it!

Suddenly I couldn’t talk very well.  I felt chocked up.  And I said, “You know Edmund, God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want.  But He loves us.  And sometimes I think He answers the small prayer requests so that we have faith to keep trusting Him and keep praying to Him in the bigger ones, or the ones that seem like they are unanswered.”

Early that month Matthew had asked me,

“Why do you think God answers prayers about lost keys and such but sometimes says no to ones that we know He would want to say yes to?”

I didn’t have an answer then.  But now maybe I do in part.

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Last November I met a beautiful lady, Rachel.  She was battling an aggressive form of cancer.  I prayed for her and fought as a prayer warrior on her behalf.  Last month her earthly battle ended.  She now rests in Jesus.  She was one of those people who you could feel the peace and presence of Jesus in.  She leaves behind three little girls and a loving husband.  And my heart screams, “Why!?”  Why didn’t God answer this prayer to heal her?

A while back we lost a white truck and brown trailer that Edmund loves and I was praying to find it and I did! When I gave it to Edmund I told him that I had prayed and Jesus helped me find them. We prayed together to thank Jesus.

We had again lost this pair for about a week, and he kept asking and asking for it so I told him I had looked but couldn’t find it. His response? A smile and “Jesus.” So we knelt and prayed. And then we looked. All over the house. As we did I kept praying. I know it is just a toy but it is a faith moment in the making. Then I moved something and heard what I suspected was trucks. And there they were! I brought them out to Edmund and said, “We prayed for Jesus to help find your white truck and brown trailer and do you think He helped us?” Edmund was still and looking at my cupped hands. I opened them and his smile lit the room! He ran toward me and took his toys and we gathered to pray and thank Jesus!

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Does the pain still hurt when the answer isn’t what we prayed for?  Yes.  Very much yes.

But when I remember all the answered prayers to the small, “unimportant” things then I can remember that God is love and He is working for us, not against us.  These little answers are reminders that He is working powerfully for His children.

Devotions

Pressing In

Sometimes it’s in the middle of the day. The deep ache for our daughter.  Sometimes I wake up with a prayer for her on my heart and I plead with God, knowing  He loves her more than I do, to be near her and bring her home to us soon.  I don’t always know when it will come but it does come.  The ache and the longing.  But each time it presses me to pray.

I was texted with another adoptive mother and I said, “It is the waiting and the unknown that presses us more into God, isn’t it? I can’t bear the separation from our girl and so I press into God more and more.”

It is like burying my head again my Father’s shoulder.

I pull out my Bible and journal and I write. I pray the promises God has for her and for us.

John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”

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And I press deeper into Jesus. Deeper into God our Father.  Deeper into the Holy Spirit Comforter.

Luke 18:27, “[Jesus] replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.'”

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And I pray bolder, louder, persistently.  And I press into Him.  Savior, Father, Comforter.

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We went to visit our dear friends in Massachusetts over our spring break and on Sabbath we took a beautiful walk in Ashley Reservoir.   It was a bit cold and for most of the walk our little boy, Edmund was happy.  Matthew carried him in the backpack-carrier for a while and then near the end he squirmed to get out and wanted me to hold him.

But he didn’t just want to be held. He wanted to curl up tight against me. He wanted his legs tucked up tight against me and his head buried into my shoulder.

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He needed me and I cuddled him up and held him close. I loved his little body curled up into me. I didn’t mind his need for me, instead I felt love pour through me for him and our relationship that makes him feel safe with me.  His need for me was based on our relationship and him knowing that I would love him.

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I didn’t mind at all.

God doesn’t mind at all.

Do you find yourself aching?  The love in your heart hurting?  Press into God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Open up the Word of God and see all the promises and love He has for you, and press deeper into Him.