• Pat

“Can you be more specific?”

Yesenia and I have been invited to a church breakfast this Saturday in the city. The speaker is a visiting pastor from El Salvador. Apparently, he specifically asked the host church to ask Yesenia to be there. He says she is a testimony and he wants her to share her story. When I asked what the testimony was, she replied, “You.”

2010 was the beginning of many changes and unexpected circumstances in my life. Ultimately, they led me here to a missionary life in Guatemala, where I met and married my beautiful Yesenia. I had been praying hard for God to show me what it was I should be doing. His answer was not a path I could have foreseen. I accepted it all as His plan, but I only knew half the picture.

Early that year, a visiting pastor spoke at a women’s prayer function attended by Yesenia. He spoke of the power of prayer. He told the story of a woman who one day wrote out all the desirable traits she would like to see in a future spouse. She put her list away, but prayed every night for God to send someone like that to her. Years later, she could pull out the list and smile about how God answered her prayers exactly as she had hoped. The speaker encouraged the single women in the audience to not just pray for a husband, but to pray powerfully and specifically for “the one”. God will provide what you ask for.

Now Yesenia had never asked God to send her a husband. She felt He knew her heart and that she of course wanted to be married someday. Even when the speaker said he felt compelled to pray right then for all the single women in the room and asked them to raise their hands, she was hesitant. Finally, she felt her hand going up, thanks largely to the woman sitting next to her who grabbed it. But after that event, Yesenia realized something. From that day on, she started asking God to send her a husband every time she prayed.

Some of you know our story. In June of 2010, we met. The following June, we started talking to each other. The following June, I moved here. This June, we were married. Apparently, Yesenia did not put too many specifications on her “perfect spouse” list. Thus, she wound up with an unemployed, middle-aged, pale guy with thinning hair from Jersey. Maybe she should have been more particular, but (and I am blushing here), she tells everyone that I was the answer to her prayers.

In his book, “Celebration of Discipline (HarperCollins, 1998)”, Richard Foster writes that “Real prayer is life creating and life changing. To pray is to change.” Foster recommends that we ask for what we want like the children of God we are, standing in front of our father. Kids don’t put conditions on what they ask for. They think parents have an endless supply of food and money. They don’t say, “I want a cookie if there are enough.” They just want a cookie. Go to God with that same expectation. No fear, no limitations, and trust that God will provide it for you.

And when you pray for something, pray hard and be specific. Kids don’t just ask for a toy car on their Christmas list. They ask for a 2013 Hotwheels #422A Mustang with opening doors and mag wheels. Don’t just pray for a better life. Envision what that life will include and pray for those things. Don’t just pray for more money. Pray for the things you will do with that money. Don’t just pray for a job. Pray for the job you want. Don’t just pray to feel better. Pray to be healed. And for your own sake, if you pray for a spouse, pray for one with a job, youth, hair and maybe a tan!

Like I did!

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