Part 3 on Specific Prayer
About three years ago after doing without for some time, I was in need of a car. In the early Fall of 2008 I came very close to buying a Vespa when my parents offered to loan me their Durango for the winter. Their offer went something like this:
“We know you are an adult and can make your own decisions but we worry about you getting a Vespa just before the cold, dark and rainy winter months. Please consider borrowing our Durango until Easter when we will be putting it up for sale on the grounds you will wait to buy a Vespa until Springtime.”
I was eager to get a Vespa; I had been wanting one for several years. I already had one picked out at the local dealer and was planning on buying it within the week but after some thought I realized my parent’s offer was both reasonable and generous and agreed to wait until Spring. As Easter approached I began looking seriously for a car rather than a Vespa. Over the winter I had transferred to a store in Cotati and had also moved in with a friend in Sebastopol and no longer lived within walking distance of work. While I was still serious about getting a Vespa, it was evident getting a car first would be more practical. As I thought about what I wanted in a car and what I could afford, I began praying God would provide me with a car that met the following criteria:
- Honda, Toyota or Nissan (great quality, maintain value, easy to repair)
- roughly 100,000 miles (I did not want many more and didn’t think I could afford a car with much less)
It was clearly not I but the Lord who opened the door for me to transfer to my new store in Cotati and it was He who moved me to Sebastopol. He would not deliberately relocate my home and work and then fail to provide the transportation I needed to commute between the two. Though I was diligently looking, Easter came and went and I still had not found any suitable or affordable transportation. I knew my parents needed their Durango back soon and at the end of April we set a date for them to come pick it up, it would be a few days after I was returning from a trip to Shasta County with my dad to celebrate my grandfather’s 80th birthday. Though I had no idea how I would get to work once I returned the Durango, I trusted God knew my needs and would show me what He had planned at just the right time.
In the last couple of hours before we were to leave, my grandma asked if she could speak with me privately. My grandparents were unaware of my need for a car and the conditions on which my parents had loaned me their Durango but what they did know was I had obtained my motorcycle license the previous September and had money set aside with the intent to buy a Vespa in the near future. With this in mind, my grandma pulled me aside to tell me:
“Your grandfather and I know you are an adult and can make your own decisions but we worry about you getting a Vespa. We see awful accidents involving motorcycles on the news regularly and rarely does a motorcyclist walk away from a crash without serious injuries. Many drivers don’t see or make room for them. Please consider taking your grandfather’s car on the grounds you won’t buy a moped.”
I must admit I paused for a split second to consider turning down such a gift because I so really wanted a Vespa. A second later my sensibility returned and with it, the joy of seeing the Lord provide for my every need and in His perfect timing. Before accepting the offer however I paused to amend the agreement to make sure I would not be in violation if or when I should buy a Vespa once I moved to Italy. Having agreed to each other’s ‘terms and conditions,’ my grandma led me out to the garage to show me the car. I already knew it was a Nissan sedan, my grandfather has only owned 4-door Nissan sedans in the last 20 years or so. Because it was more than 7 years old the insurance is quite affordable. As a Nissan sedan it is fairly economical, it gets decent gas mileage especially when compared to what I had grown used to while using the Durango. And the odometer when I came to pick up the car? Just over 97,000 miles!
Driving Alden home a couple of weeks later, all I saw the whole way back were the beautiful wildflowers dotting the hills, fields and roadside along the way. Each one reminding me of the Lord’s words in Matthew 6:28-34. Almost 40,000 miles later, Alden the Altima is still a beautiful reminder to me of God’s love and faithfulness and how it is from His hand alone I have received every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).
Looking back, I wish I had asked for even more things in a car. So long as they were reasonable, useful qualities, I feel each additional specification would have been given to me for the sole purpose of giving glory to God. Just one or two specifics might be shrugged off by an atheist as mere coincidence but when many details are heard and granted by God, no one but Him can claim the glory that is rightfully His to begin with. In his book, Teach Me To Pray, here is a little of what Andrew Murray has to say about praying specifically:
“Our prayers must not be a vague appeal to His mercy or an indefinite cry for blessing, but the distinct expression of a specific need. It is not that Jesus’ loving heart does not understand our cry or is not ready to hear, but He desires that we be specific for our own good. Prayer that is specific teaches us to know our own needs better. To find out what our greatest need is demands time, thought, and self-scrutiny. To find out whether our desires are honest and real, and whether we are ready to persevere in them, we are put to the test. It leads us also to discern whether our desires conform to God’s Word and whether we really believe that we will receive the things we ask. It helps us to wait for a definite answer and to be aware of it when it comes… Just as anyone who has hunted wild game knows that firing into the woods does not bring down the target, so in prayer we must have a target, an aim, and then fire upon it directly to see results.”
This story of specific prayer continues… check out this ripe banana story for more!