20 July 2011

The Prayer that Goes Unanswered

BA 747 by .curt.

“I thank God for unanswered prayers.” Perhaps you’ve heard the country song, perhaps you believe that statement from experience. I just wanted to share with you one reason why I am thankful for a prayer that was answered—just not in the way I wanted.

Several months ago I was given the opportunity to fly out to Liverpool to attend a friend’s wedding. Her parents were going out there, so they could accompany me on my first flight, and I would be able to stay with my friend’s new in-laws to get an immersion experience of real British culture. It sounded like the perfect opportunity; things were fitting together like the pieces of a puzzle! My family was enthusiastic, friends were congratulating me…it looked like my long-time dream would finally come true.

And then I started taking other things into account.
·         There would be a wedding going on, so there probably wouldn't be anyone willing to gallivant around the country with me, so I would be confined to Liverpool.
·         The airfare would take a huge chunk out of my "Britain Fund", which could not be quickly replaced and so a big trip to England would have to wait for that.
·         Perhaps there would be awkward dynamics of being a shy person in with a lot of wedding guests and people I didn’t know.

So I asked for advice, weighed the options, and then set aside an evening for heavy prayer. I’d never done something like this before: sitting down to pray with the intention of not getting up until I’d gotten an answer to the question, “Go to the wedding, or wait?”

To tell the truth, I had an agenda. The more I prayed the more I realized how much I wanted to go, and now! The thought of actually getting on a plane bound for England was so big and so wonderful that I cried. But then I had this thought (I wouldn’t really call it a vision) of Jesus sitting beside me, and we were laughing together, and all of a sudden He said, “Abby, do you trust me?” Of course I said, “Yes!” He replied, “Then don’t go.”

That was crushing, but it was such a fleeting thought that it was fairly easy to convince myself it was my imagination making something up, desperate for an answer after hours of praying. I decided that I would go to the wedding, at least that would be the plan until I learned more.

Then I learned more! After about a month of thinking, asking, and listening, I realized that things wouldn’t be as cut and dried as I’d thought at first. To make a long story short, I kept considering, questioning, and double-guessing, until I actually felt surety and peace in declining the invitation.

Months later, after the wedding has come and gone, I am so thankful that I didn’t go after all. My friend’s parents only got to stay there for about a week, they remained in Liverpool practically the entire time, and most of that time was spent in wedding preparations, not sightseeing. I probably would have had fun, and I would have loved to see the wedding, but the truth is that it would not have been the dream trip I’ve been waiting and wishing for.

So I do thank God for “unanswered prayers”. He didn’t write Don’t Go! in big letters on the wall; He even let me deceive my desperate little self into planning to go despite my qualms. But in the end I’m sure it was all for the best, and that’s a very comforting thought.

BA 747, a photo by .curt. on Flickr.


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