My mom is moving from Oregon to Austin. Tomorrow.
My Finnish-immigrant-Oregonian mother will be a Texan. She is 88 years old. Sweet and feisty. She struggles with significant dementia and she will live with us for awhile. Without a doubt my life will change, but I am believing for a very special season of life, one in which blessings flow both ways. While she is very needy, she still has much to give. My emotions are a mixture of joy and apprehension.
I have felt for sometime that it would be best to move my mom near to my family. Yet, I never actually thought it would happen. She detests hot weather. She fears flying. My Northwest siblings have wanted her to remain close to them. She and my special-needs brother have been inseparable. She considers Oregon to be her home.
Recently my prayers have changed however.
Rather than seeking strength and patience to keep traveling there each month to help, I began to ask God, if it were His will, to actually grow a desire in my mom’s heart to move to Austin. I also began to pray that my special-needs brother would want to separate from her. For many reasons it no longer worked for the two of them to live together.
Suddenly, my mom began to call me with a decidedly different message. Each day she would explain how, on her walks, God would tell her that she had to move to Austin. And my brother suddenly expressed a readiness to live apart from her. Two seemingly impossible heart changes had taken place. Why does it surprise me so that God answers prayers in very specific ways?
I struggle to make sense of prayer.
Why is praying necessary if a sovereign God will accomplish His purposes regardless? It’s beyond my comprehension how His sovereign will and my privilege to pray intersect. Still the older I grow, the more I value prayer.
Recently I have changed the focus of my prayers away from what is wrong, or lacking, to a focus on what can be.
My prayers have centered more on possibilities. I am asking, seeking and knocking (Matthew 7:7) on behalf of my own family and others about what can be and what God will accomplish for them. But I know that asking, seeking and knocking are not secret formulas – ways to get what I want from God. To assume that God would give me what I want simply because I ask for it, makes God small. Yet to assume He doesn’t answer prayers, greatly diminishes who He is.
At times I am amazed at how God answers prayers – like with my mom and brother. At other times I grow amazed at what happens within me through the process of prayer. I may not always get the answers I seek, but I always get more of Him in deeper, fresher ways. Plus my trust grows stronger as I learn to patiently and expectantly wait on a sovereign God whose timing and answers are always best. Prayer changes things. Prayer changes me. While my mom’s memory is sharply declining, she still prays and God is still working in her heart and changing her too!
What a privilege we have to pray for those we love with possibilities in mind —prayers for healing, for restoration, for reconciliation with God and others, for provision, for wholeness. While our cups may often appear half empty – sometimes even near empty – we can joyfully anticipate how God can make them overflow.
With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
I John 5:14-15
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.