When I was a little girl, every so often, our pastor would set aside a time of fasting and prayer. That would be 24 hours with nothing but liquids. Some of us took nothing but water. Some of us decided it was okay to have juice, but other than that, no food would pass over our lips for 24 hours. And if there was a particularly huge need, members would come up to church and pray in shifts, so that prayers were going up to Heaven for each minute of those 24 hours. So I have long been taught about the power of prayer.
I was also taught that not all answers to prayer are going to be yes. I was taught that God answers yes, no or wait. Now, that goes against that whole philosophy of ask, believe and receive, doesn’t it? In fact, I just got another tweet tonight saying that very thing. But I have such a hard time accepting that line of thinking because that means if I pray super diligently, asking God to give me something that I really, really want, believing completely that He’s going to give it to me because He would never deny me something I want so badly, He is obligated to give it to me regardless of whether it’s His will for me or not. I like to think that God doesn’t mind so much if I pout when He denies me prayer request because He sees the bigger picture and knows what’s best for me.
I remember when this whole “ask, believe, receive” philosophy first reached me in high school, and I recall vividly how hard I prayed for God to give me Chris Miles…..and Tracy Clark…..and Alfred Hill…..and Mark McLamb…..And with all my crying and begging and pleading and promising, do you know how many of those boys God gave me? That would be ZERO. Is it because I asked but didn’t truly believe? Or is it because God saw the bigger picture and kept me single throughout my high school years for a purpose that still isn’t really clear to me. It sure would’ve been nice to have had a boyfriend in high school, God……
So my prayer requests have matured somewhat over the years, although I won’t deny I occasionally ask God to send me someone over 6 feet tall who not only makes me laugh but thinks my hissy fits are about the cutest thing he’s ever seen. He’s decided not to answer that one yet, either. But that doesn’t stop me from asking.
And when I had a recent issue come up in my life, I knew it was going to require major prayer for a long haul. I shared it with a friend of mine who I turn to for spiritual guidance. When I told her what I was up against, she advised me to fast. Now, it would be weeks before I would have the answer to this particular prayer, so how could I possibly go weeks without food? But she told me about how she fasts, and it’s basically how Catholics fast during Lent. Sacrifice something that you truly love and each time you crave that thing, pray. And my thing? Diet Pepsi.
I can’t tell you how much I love Diet Pepsi. I’ve literally gone days where I’ve drunk NOTHING but Diet Pepsi — not even water. Just Diet Pepsi. So with a pantry full of 2-liters and cases of 12-packs, I gave up Diet Pepsi. And each time I craved it, I prayed. And each time I was tempted to cave in, I remembered that I’d made a promise to God and would pray some more. And I didn’t cheat. And over a month later, with now-expired cans gathering dust on my shelves, God answered my prayer with a great big yes. And I thanked Him and then celebrated with a 16-ounce Diet Pepsi.