Desperation, hopelessness, and discouragement fill the spaces between the lines in the e-mails I have received. Do I have an answer for them? While only God can answer their prayers, I do have some encouragement. It's the hand.
More than 10 years ago I felt led to make a hand. Despite arguing with God that I am not an artist let alone a sculptor, the idea would not leave me. After two years of periodically visiting hobby stores trying to figure out what to make it with I finally sent up this exasperated prayer, "God, I will look one more time at the craft store. If You don't show me how to make this hand, I give up."
My eyes scanned the rows of modeling clay as I prayed, "Lord, please show me." A green box I had never seen before caught my eye. The clay inside the cellophane window was flesh colored. That's what I needed! "Good for making a hand" was written on the box!
The clay sat on my dining room table for weeks before I had the courage to begin. My first attempts were pitiful. But there was no turning back. I had my assignment, and it needed to be done with excellence. "Lord, I can't do this. Please make this hand through me," became my plea every week.
Six weeks later the hand was ready to be cured in the oven. Not bad, I thought. At least I can cross that off my list.
Two weeks later someone stopped by unexpectedly. The topic of creativity came up, and I showed her my hand. "That's for a teaching," she said.
Teaching? What teaching? Two weeks after that I was given the opportunity to speak to my daughter's seventh grade Christian studies class. "Lord, what do You want me to speak about?" No answer. Every prayer met with silence. The morning of the class I still had no topic. In desperation I prayed, "Lord, I am going to close my eyes and take a short nap. I will only speak on what You tell me to say, so please show me. I am exhausted praying about this!"
Within minutes of closing my eyes I saw a white board with six words written on it:
I knew it concerned the hand. Quickly I wrote out the story of the hand with just enough time to drive to my daughter's class.You could hear a pin drop as I explained that God's assignment was impossible for me. "I'm not an artist. I'm not a sculptor. I couldn't make this hand, so I asked God week after to week to make the hand through me."
Then I pulled out the hand. The students passed it around marveling at the fingernails, the veins, the knuckles.
"I learned that when I can't, He can, and He will.
Which brings me to the original point of this story. If praying day after day, week after week produces more and more anxiety, and silence is the only answer I get, I write the issue on a scrap of paper, roll it into a ball and put it in God's hand citing Psalm 37:5*. My prayer sounds something like this:
"Lord, I commit this issue to you according to Psalm 37:5. I trust that You will answer in Your timing. Thank You for Your answer."
Then I stop praying! That's right. I forget the issue and get busy doing whatever tasks are at hand. I never pray about it again. And God always answers. His peace carries me through and all anxiety leaves as soon as I deposit my prayer in His hand
*This idea came from Joy Dawson's book, The Fire of God.
- When you have reached a point where praying just makes you more and more anxious, commit the issue completely to God, thank Him and stop praying.
- Write your problem on a piece of paper and put it in 'God's hands' - you could use a mug or a small saucer to represent giving it to Him.
- Trust that He will answer in His timing.