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“You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2c)
One of my favorite stories of answered prayer from my own life came when I was 23 and the youth pastor of NewLife. Our growing youth group of about 20-25 senior high students had been meeting at my apartment in Manchester. Things were going great, but the bad part was that the walls were paper thin, and my neighbors could hear every screaming teen, every beat of the conga drum, and every song being sung, and I felt horrible about it. When the lease year was nearing the end, I began praying that God would provide a house where we could meet. I had two friends who lived in the same apartment complex as me, and we decided that together we would look for a house to rent.
I sat down with Dave, one of those friends, and drew a circle on the map, telling him that this was where I needed God to provide the house: somewhere in southern Manchester or northern Glastonbury. I also had other specific things that I felt like I needed God to provide – a house with easy access for parents who were picking up and dropping off kids, a big enough room to fit 25-30 kids, and break out rooms for small groups. And Dave had his request too – a garage for his Mustang.
We looked at a few houses as they came on the market, but none of them would work for what we needed. It was getting closer and closer to the day we needed to move. I was going to be going away on a mission trip for the final week before my lease ran out, so I was feeling the pressure. A few days before I went away, we wound up looking at a house in East Hartford. It was just outside of the circle I had drawn, but really close. It had a loop for a driveway, so it would pretty easy for parents to access. There really wasn’t a big room to meet in, but there were probably enough rooms in the house to break into small groups. It was just close enough to being what I had prayed for that I could have rationalized myself into believing that this was God’s provision. But in the end I knew it wasn’t, so I said no to the house, and left for my mission trip.
On the day before my lease was up, I called home and spoke with Scott, one of my other roommates to be, to see how the search was going. He told me, “I think we might have found the house – it needs a lot of work, but it might be the one.” He proceeded to tell me that it was a house that used to be a small shop, so it had a big living room with pocket doors between the other rooms on the lower floor. It also had a parking lot for a driveway (!), with a 2-car garage. And, amazingly, it was right down the street from where we were presently living. We called our landlord, and we were able to get our lease extended one extra day so that I could get back from my trip and check it out.
As we toured the house, it was obvious that this was God’s provision. Thankfully, I had resisted the fearful urge to settle for the East Hartford house, and God had indeed come through, providing the promised house at the last possible moment, giving me an unforgettable experience of God’s provision.
James tells us that sometimes the reason we do not receive is that we do not ask God. And as I learned, sometimes even when we ask, it can be hard to trust Him to provide the answer instead of trying to make it happen on our own. Let me encourage you today to pray boldly, pray specifically, and to put your trust in God your Father, who knows what you need.
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