I am a strong believer that God loves to answer simple, specific prayers. That’s not to say He is here to answer our every request but I do believe He delights in giving us good gifts, especially after we fully surrender our prayers to Him.
In 2010 I was working as a stock market reporter for a financial website in Buffalo for a little over a year. Financially it looked like the company was about to fold any day so I was exploring my options, as they say.
Then one night when I was watching the news Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary, came on the screen. Epiphany struck and I decided I wanted to be a press secretary for a Member of Congress one day.
SPOILER ALERT: I got there, but only after taking my requests to God with specific prayers and about a year of waiting.
Today I am going to share three simple and specific prayers I’ve prayed over the course of that year-and-a-half that God answered loudly and definitively, just not always quickly.
Also, I cannot take credit for these prayers. They come from Catherine Marshall – one of my spiritual heroes. However, the blessings are mine while the glory is all God’s.
Specific Prayers that Make Dreams Come True (Praying for a Job)
After I decided I wanted to be a press secretary I stumbled across a book called “Beyond Ourselves” by Catherine Marshall. In it, she outlines The Prayer That Makes Dreams Come True – literally, a prayer that makes your dreams come true.
Sounds unbiblical but stick with me.
Here’s how Catherine responded to any concerns you may have:
“I have discovered that there are those who are wary of the prayer that makes dreams come true on two counts: they have doubts about the rightness of praying for material needs; and they are cautious – correctly – about trying to use God and spiritual principles for selfish ends.
…As for whether God means for us to include materials needs in our petitions, one answer would be that Christ was interested in the bodies of man along with their souls. He was concerned about their health and their physical hunger.
…As for the danger that our heart’s desire may be our selfish human will rather than God’s, there are ways by which we can test this.”
So with pen and pad (yes – I still write in real notebooks!), I gave Catherine Marshalls Dreaming a prayer a shot.
1.) Write down your specific dreams.
You must be specific though. No “Oh I want to grow in this area.” or “help him see this in his life…” but real, authentic and specific requests.
For me it was simple: I wanted to be a press secretary for a Christian Congressman from a specific political party.
2.) Put your dreams through a test.
For this step, there are several questions to ask yourself.
- Is this request true to my nature and therefore ok to ask? (For instance, I probably shouldn’t ask to win an Olympic Gold medal at this point in my life)
- Would these dreams fulfill the particularly talents temperaments and emotional needs God planted in me?
- Does my dream involve taking something or someone that belongs to another person? (A good one to ask if you’re praying to date a guy who is already in a relationship with someone else!)
- Am I willing to make all my relationships with other people right?
- Do I want this dream with my whole heart?
- Are we willing to wait patiently for God’s timing?
- Are we dreaming BIG?
Catherine added this:
“If our heart’s desire can pass this first series of tests, then we are ready for an even greater hurdle. My experience has been that the last necessary step in the Dreaming Prayer sequence is that we hand our dream over to God to fulfill or not, as He wishes, and then go off and leave it with Him. This is where the prayer that makes dreams come true must also include the Prayer of Relinquishment. With this final test available to us, we need have no fear of trying to use God for selfish ends. We are asking only that His will be fulfilled in us.”
Since all my answers to the above questions were “Yes” (except the one about taking something from someone) I felt confident moving forward with asking God for my request.
You’ve given me the skills to be a writer, with the knowledge of politics, love of speech, and heart to see you in government.
I believe you want me to use these skills to not “win politics’ but to show Christ through me there.
All resources are yours! All the Capitol Hill jobs are in your control and their decisions OKed by You.
So will you make it possible for me to get hired by a Congressman as his press secretary?
Lord, help me to overcome the obstacles in my path and remove all discouragement as I wait patiently for your plan to be fulfilled.
Please help bring the right people into my life who are able to hand my resume over to the Congressman you have in mind.
Please help my qualifications to be an exact fit of what they are looking for.
And Lord, please help me to keep dreaming, keep working on my skills, keep giving my all at work and be filled with joy over your plan.
And then I waited. Weeks went by and then months. I started to get frustrated.
Mind you – I lived in Buffalo at this time and was praying for a job in Washington, D.C. with little experience in the field I was trying to get a job in.
But then one day I stumbled across the other prayer that Catherine Marshall said was often critical to the dreaming prayer coming true: The Prayer of Relinquishment.
The Prayer of Relinquishment (Moving to D.C.)
August 16, 2011
Listen to this:
The other day I read a prayer from Catherine Marshall’s book called The Prayer of Relinquishment.
Basically, she gave countless stories of people who said, “I’m done fighting, Lord! THY will be done. Whatever you want to happen I’ll accept and stop bartering with You.”
Well, I’ve read this book a number of times, and even prayed that prayer, but last night I prayed it a little differently.
Because every avenue I’ve explored to get to D.C. lately has ended in a dead-end, last night I prayed:
“Lord, clearly you’ve shut every door I’ve tried. So for the next two weeks I won’t ask for a job but focus on praying and serving others.”
Then this morning I get a call from a Congressman’s office for an internship I applied to in D.C.. They loved me and want me to come in for an interview.
I can hardly believe it.
You see, every example in Catherine Marshall gave for that prayer (when they were sincere) was answered immediately and here I am actually realizing how powerful that prayer can be.
Very nervous but excited. I fly down in two days.
Turns out I was offered the internship that day (and also met my husband that day but that’s a story for another time.)
I had about a month until my start date and no place to live in one of the country’s most expensive cities. But I wasn’t concerned. God got me this far and would get me the rest of the way there.
So I prayed:
“Lord, I know this is your will. You’ve already opened a door for me. I’m relying on You to provide a place for me to live, too”
The Helpless Prayer (A Place to Live)
Immediately I remembered a temporary housing place I had lived at as an intern six years prior. I called them up and not only were they booked but had a three-month waiting period. I applied anyway, sent in my reservation fee, and, you guessed it – prayed.
August 22, 2011
“Lord, You promise to provide the essentials and I need a place to live. I pray if it’s your will to open a space at the women’s home that it will be done. It’s really ideal and I’d feel comfortable there. I need it to happen soon though so I can plan. If not, please open another door. “
Three days went by and I got a call, “Sarah, we see you stayed with us before! We give preference to returning guests and will be able to give you a room for the time period you need.”
Thank you, Jesus…
Oh, and you might be wondering how I got from an internship to working as a press secretary/communications director for a Member of Congress. Well, let’s just say God answered that prayer in a miraculous way too (and quickly that time!)
I wrote all about it in an article called “Learning to Surrender my Career to God.”
And if you enjoyed this article you can pin to come back to later:
Six years later I still live in D.C., had three different jobs, got engaged, got married, moved to five different apartments and still using simple, specific and surrendered prayers to draw closer to God and trust Him for the next step.
When has God answered specific prayers in your life?
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Kristin Cook says
YES!!!! I love the “THY will be done” prayer. I mean, God absolutely delights in giving us good gifts, but I know a lot of people who think God is their to do what THEY say. They would never word it like that, but that’s the thought. And honestly, every single Christian can do that sometimes whether we realize it at the time or not.
It’s true Kristin. I’ve even tried to negotiate with God. But when I surrender to His will and His way I am filled with peace!
Lux G. says
Thank you for sharing these. I’m at this point where I’m comfortable with my life but there’s an urge or nudging to go to a different direction. I think it’s amazing I got to catch this.
These are helpful tips.
Very welcome, Lux. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing. This is so accurate to where my husband and I are in life at the moment.
It was always comforting to me to know that He had a plan, even if I didn’t know it yet. 🙂
When asking my prayers I always ask it in the sense that it be God’s will. I think if it’s meant to be and it’s something that you truly need, then he of course will always provide- I firmly believe that. Beautiful post!
Thanks, Cara! And yes, there is a lot of peace praying that way.
Beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and experiences! I love how you said: put your prayers through a test. Sometimes we think we know what we want but we truly do not. Thank you for this!
Yes, so many times God showed me that what I thought I wanted wasn’t right at all.
D @ Be You and Thrive says
Love this post! I think it’s so important to pray for guidance in all areas of our lives!
Norma Gail says
Valuable insights into prayer! I can attest to all of them in my own life.
Love this post and your perspective! I once heard that prayers should be very specific if there is something you are wanting (it was during my infertility journey). I like your “checklist” test for prayers. Very thoughtful and seems like it would make my prayers much more intentional.
I can’t take credit for it, but it is a wonderful prayer “system” (if it’s okay to call it that) 🙂
Neely Moldovan says
I love this and I totally feel the same way
Jessica Bradshaw says
I absolutely love this. I think God loves to help us with our specific desires if they align with His plan. I prayed for our house and my job and both of those were answered. There have been times I have prayed for other things I thought were what I wanted, but God had other plans for me. Beautiful post and congrats!
Yes sometimes we’re thanking God for NOT granting something after the fact.
Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries says
I needed this today. It reminded me that I need to pray more for guidance in my life. I’m in a huge period of change, and I definitely could use God’s guidance right now!
Brittany Putman says
I love how God works. I don’t understand it but I love it! I’ve prayed those prayers too and God has always answered them in unexpected but wonderful ways.
I think the most important part is that we surrender – then He can do wonderful things!
Thanks for sharing your prayer journey. It was really beautiful to see how the prayers progressed over time. I have had similar experiences in my life and it’s always been amazing to look back on.
Elizabeth | Confidentlyelegant.com
It is so good to reflect on what God has done.
Erica @ Coming Up Roses says
I COULD NOT LOVELOVELOVE THIS MORE, SARAH!!!! I’ve had God answer the seemingly smallest things in the most tangible ways that it takes me aback, but it’s amazing because he shows UP! Prayer of relinquishing to Him is huge I think – I’ve had it happen where literally no more than 10 seconds after I’d pray that, the answer came. He does wonders!!
Coming Up Roses
It is a POWERFUL prayer! 🙂
Ayanna @ 21FlavorsofSplendor says
Love this! I sometimes get so caught up in praying broad prayers, that I forget that God does want to give us the desires fo our heart. Thank you for this great reminder!
Yes, the cool part is we can pray to Him to give us the desires He wants us to have, so of course they will be fulfilled.
This is beautifully said. LOve this!
Thank you for sharing! I am pinning these for later!
Wonderful! Thanks, Jenn.
Erica @ Black Bloggers Network says
This was a great post! God specifically answered my prayers after spending 11 years praying that my husband and I have a child. Now she’s 18 months and a complete blessing! Thank you for sharing your testimony. It was so inspiring.
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