I didn’t ask for that.

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I remember very vividly the moment I fell in love with my nephew. I was sitting in worship on Sunday morning at the 11am service. We were still finishing up construction so we were in the gym and I was on the far right closest to the kitchen, always a distracting place to sit. It was children’s time and Pastor Pam called all the kiddos up to hear the children’s message. As the kids ran up, some of them laughing and some of them looking pretty nervous about leaving mom and dad behind, I realized that one day in the near future I would see my nephew (or niece we didn’t know yet) run up there. I started thinking about all the wonderful things this new little person would get to try and do and the joy he would bring to every part of our family life. And I cried. Not an ugly cry or anything. Tears of joy.

My nephew was born on May 20, 2013 almost exactly 9 months to the day that my sister and her husband were married. So you see he wasn’t exactly planned. I had the extreme privilege of being on the phone with my sister when she realized she was pregnant and it was both a beautiful and scary moment. Were they ready? This wasn’t the plan. But there was a joy, even in that scary moment of something new and unexpected, that came from the certain knowledge that this was a wonderful surprise. I’ll never forget the first moment I saw him and fell in love with him all over again. He was very unhappy but still so adorable (a quality he retains to this day).

We didn’t know to pray for a miracle like little baby J. We had no way of knowing how to ask for all the blessings he has brought our family. He’s an answer to a prayer none of us knew we had been praying.

There are things in this life that we long for. We pray for them daily, maybe even hourly, asking and pleading with God to hear our prayer and answer it. Sometimes we pray this way for years without ever hearing from the Father. There are people who long for children that never come. People who pray for healing that doesn’t happen. Prayers for relationships that don’t get better and don’t last. We pray for the things we want to see God do in our lives and the lives of those we love. And sometimes it feels like he doesn’t hear us. I have been there and it is agony.

But I have seen the other side of this as well. I have seen God answer prayers I never prayed but would have and should have if only I had known the words.

In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans.
Romans 8: 26

I don’t know what’s on your heart or even how God is moving in your life. I don’t know what pain you are in because of unanswered prayers. But I know that God is moving in your life. I know that God does hear your prayers. He never sleeps, never drifts far away. Say what you need to say to Him, even if it is how hurt and alone you feel. If you cannot believe that He is near or that He hears you that is ok. I will believe it for you and pray and hope that one day you will know it too.

It is good to serve a God who answers prayers we don’t know we are praying. A God who blesses us in ways we can’t foresee or think to ask for. A God who sees us and loves us. There are things in my life that I want to have or happen. But all I have to do is look at my nephew to remember that His plan is so much better than mine. It may feel scary terrifying or heartbreaking. And yet when I have surrendered and trusted (and yes, waited…sometimes what felt like forever because I am not a patient person) I have found that the blessings that God has for me are so much bigger and better than any that I could have imagined. Those blessings answer the prayer I didn’t know I was praying.

May you see God at work in your life today and may you know the joy of an answer to a prayer you didn’t know you were praying.

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