Nothing empowers faith like answered prayer. Conversely, nothing erodes faith like hope deferred—when you’ve prayed and prayed but just can’t get a breakthrough. I’ve been in both places.
We are finally experiencing breakthroughs. They come after a very long, dry season in which the heavens seemed like impenetrable brass. Several factors come to mind as I ask, “What changed?” One is that we are praying S.M.A.R.T.-er!
Goals are targets we aim at. They help us see beyond present circumstances and envision results which improve our lot. Goals empower us to convert obstacles into stepping stones that carry us forward toward our desired end.
Certain kinds of praying are like setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. The parallel can help us understand the Apostle Paul’s advice: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
S – SPECIFIC
One day I sat down and listed on a piece of paper all the things we needed to move out of our frustrating circumstances into greater peace and prosperity. As one thing after another came to mind I added it to my list—not all items were material things. These were not nice-to-have items if we could afford them; these were items we really needed but just couldn’t afford.
Like a new fridge.
Our old one quit on Christmas morning, after 19 years of faithful service. That left us with Rebekah’s small fridge—perfectly adequate for her when she worked at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay, but hardly big enough for a family of 3 adults and 2 growing children!
After every member of the family added items, we huddled around the paper, each stretching a hand to touch the list, and we “let our requests be known to God”, ending with an exuberant “Amen!” Like a basketball team getting ready to get back into the game after a time out.
We posted the list in a spot where we would be reminded daily of our specific prayer targets. Whenever we looked at the items on the list, we expressed thanks to the Almighty for His provision.
M – MEASURABLE
The progress of our faith was clearly measurable because our requests were very specific. If our prayer requests are not specific, how will we know if and when the prayers are answered? We would know our prayer was answered when a brand new fridge stood in the spot left vacant by the defunct one.
We reviewed our list day after day, revising anything that was vague until we had identified exactly what we were praying for. Interestingly, as our targets became more specific and measurable, our faith became more focused and gathered momentum.
A – ACTION
The Apostle James writes, “Faith without action is no faith at all!” (James 2:26 paraphrased) Our faith came alive with action! We went in search of fridges to determine exactly what make, size and price suited our needs. We discussed what we needed to do to position ourselves to receive the Almighty’s answer. We examined our hearts for limiting beliefs and lingering doubt. We took note of Scriptures that strengthened our confidence. Answers to prayer are the result of an active partnership with God. We made sure our part of the deal was covered.
R – RELEVANT
Mountain-moving faith is activated when the target of our prayer is relevant. Relevance is defined by the Kingdom and purposes of God. Jesus taught, “Put God’s Kingdom priorities first, and He will see to it that all your needs are met.” (Matthew 6:33 paraphrased) That does not mean that only big, earth-shaking requests matter. Little things matter to God! A prayer request is relevant when the answer moves the team—in this case, our family—forward and into a better position to bless others.
We were confident that our request and our motivation for a new fridge qualified for His attention, even though it was a mundane, housekeeping matter. We imagined our loving Father would be rather pleased to give us a new fridge, not just any fridge, but the exact one on our list. We had no idea how this would happen—the price was far beyond our present means.
T. TIME RELATED
I used to think, as many do, that we can impose time limits on God. “Lord, we really need a new fridge, and we’re believing for a miracle by the end of January.” That should give Him enough time, we think to ourselves. It doesn’t work that way!
The Almighty is ready and willing to answer our prayers immediately. As our loving Father, however, He uses prayer to mentor us to greatness. Delayed answers signal there adjustments to be made, lessons to be learned and insights to be gleaned. Father has heard our prayer and is ready with His answer, but either we’re not yet ready or we’re not yet in position to receive it. So, like the good Father that He is, the Almighty patiently takes time to prepare us and move us into position. When the time is right, the answer arrives. He, not we, determines the right time. That’s what “waiting on the Lord”. is about.
In May, six months after our request was made, our new fridge arrived. During the wait, we learned how to make do with the small fridge, we learned invaluable lessons about faith and prayer, and we bonded deeply as a family—we truly became a dynamic team in God’s Kingdom!
The money to pay for the fridge came ‘out of the blue’! (God has a delightful sense of humor!) We gave Rebekah’s fridge to friends who needed a new fridge and had been praying for one. We gave the old fridge to a repairman in the neighboring village. He was delighted.
When we pray S.M.A.R.T., we place ourselves in line for amazing answers that benefit not only us, but others as well. The taste of this kind of answered prayer is addictive. Clearly, the Almighty enjoys the prayer journey as much as we; most of the items on our original list are checked off “Answered!”
Source of image – www.mytimemanagement.com/