It’s a new year and because I love fresh starts, I’ve been known to make a resolution or two. (I won’t share the statistics on my success at keeping them.) Recently, our pastor challenged us to make commitments instead of resolutions — more importantly, to commit to God an action, attitude, habit or sacrifice that we’re willing to take up in the new year.
Mine is prayer. Just that — conversation with God. No more spiritual “tweets” or text messages sent up in the midst of other things, but deep, personal prayer. Intentional solicitations, thoughtful praises, heartfelt gratitude. With a new prayer journal in hand, I’m off to a good start.
One of the tools I know will guide me toward a habit of more intentional prayer is a new book by my friend, Amelia Rhodes, entitled Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community. Amelia is a writer, author and speaker who lives in Lowell, Michigan, with her family. Her book grew out of a personal desire to cultivate an organized prayer life. From Amelia:
“Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community features 5 topics for each letter. Three of those are prayers of petition, and two are prayers of praise. Each topic has a verse, a prompt, and a short prayer to get you started.
Pray A to Z can be used in many ways, including your personal quiet time, as a part of a small prayer group, during family devotions or in Sunday school classes. You can pray all the way through one letter each day, completing the entire alphabet in a month, or imply lift up one topic per day, or utilize any other order or schedule that suits your needs at the time. I’ve often camped out on one topic when there’s been something heavy on my heart.
My hope and prayer is that this book will help you experience a renewed excitement about prayer and enjoy a closer relationship with God. I also pray God will open your eyes to the struggles others are facing and show you how you can be His hands and feet of love to your community.”
I am giving a copy of this book to one reader who responds here with his or her request for prayer. I promise not only to send you the book (through Amazon), but to pray specifically for your request. I’ll choose the winner in a drawing.
The beautiful thing about writing out prayers is that we have a record which can make us aware of the answers to our prayers. I asked Amelia to share a personal story about answered prayer in her life:
A year ago at this time my family and I were settling into a cozy 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment. We had sold our house, believing that God was calling us to a simpler way of life, one that long term would allow us to be more generous with our time and our money. Yet, when our house sold, there was nothing for sale in our little town. However, there was this small rental that we were able to snag for six months, and it happened to be in the exact location we wanted to live. It was a perfect way to “try out” this part of town we believed we were supposed to move to. And by spring, there would be plenty of houses for sale.
Or so we thought.
Spring came and there weren’t any houses for sale. Week after week we searched. Houses were selling before they were even listed. And a fixer-upper house in the price range and location we felt called to just wasn’t happening.
Every day for six months, I looked out the back window of that rental and prayed, asking God to guide our steps to obey this call on our life and show us the right place to live.
With weeks left before our lease was up, and still no houses for sale, we figured we would have to sign a one year lease and continue waiting. Another year in the rental would be challenging, but we were content to be patient until the right house showed up that would allow us to live the way we believed God was asking us to.
Then the landlord called. It turned out that due to health challenges, they were looking to sell all their rental homes. She hoped we had found a place to buy. When I told her we hadn’t, she asked what specifically we were looking for. I gave her our simple wish list and she replied, “We own the house behind where you are living, and we need to sell it too. I think it might be exactly what you’re looking for. Do you want to walk through it tomorrow?”
A few weeks later, we signed the papers to buy the house behind the rental. It also happened to be the house that filled my view for six months as I stared out the window asking God to show us where we were supposed to live. I’m sure God got a chuckle out of that. I can imagine Him thinking, “My dear, the answer is right in front of you. It’s just not time to show you yet.”
Sometimes the answer is right in front of us, but it’s not time for God to reveal it yet. And sometimes we have to wait, not because we aren’t ready, but because the other parties involved aren’t ready yet. Prayer and patience go together, and God gives us the patience we need to wait for HIs timing when we ask.
Amelia’s new book is available online at all major booksellers. You can also connect with her online at www.ameliarhodes.com, on Twitter @amrhodes, Facebook @ameliarhodeswriter and Instagram @ameliamrhodes.