The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
One of the most memorable sermons I've heard was on prayer. An illustration was given of a man who arrived in Heaven and God took him to a warehouse that was full from top to bottom of all kinds of different containers, boxes, and cases. The man asked, "What is all this?" God responded, "These are all the things I wanted to give you; you just never asked for them."
This particular sermon really struck a cord with me. At the time, I was at a crossroads in my career. I taught English at the middle school level for seven years, but I knew something needed to change. I was just uneasy and restless. I wanted to stay in education, and still work with students, just not teach English. I had all these "requirements" in my head of a job fit for me. The only problem was that it didn't exist. After hearing this sermon on prayer, I thought I'd give it a shot and start to pray for what I specifically wanted. Every morning, I would walk into my empty portable, sit behind my cold desk, and pray for this "job." I remember looking down at my desk calendar and thinking, "This request is so FAR out there! I'm praying for something that doesn't even exist! This is crazy." My daily prayers began in September, and I knew I had a long road ahead. But I did it everyday.
That next Spring, I received an email from my principal to come see her. If you are a teacher, and you get one of these emails, you know what I mean when I say that I began to sweat! I started thinking of all the things that I could have done wrong or if I was in trouble! As I walked slowly into her office and sat down, she began to tell me about a position that the district was creating to reach the at-risk students, to be their "school mama," an advocate to those with no one on their side. And she offered me the job. I was speechless, to say the least. I remember returning to my portable almost in tears. This was EXACTLY what I had asked for. Wow.
Now, the change did not happen without its challenges. This position required a masters degree, which I wasn't planning on getting for a while. But I finished my degree three weeks before my 2nd daughter was born. (Now tell me that's not God's perfect timing!) I also had a lot to learn about what all this position involved. It was a huge learning process! I realized I didn't know as much as I thought I knew. But one thing was for sure, this was totally a God thing. Now, I am able to help students in a way that I could have never done as a classroom teacher. Don't get me wrong, I'm not always successful. Many of my students fail, academically and in life. They make bad choices. They do illegal things. Some are there one day, and gone the next. But there are success stories, like the boy who has passed his tests for the first time after he and I worked so hard in tutoring. Or the girl who started 7th grade with a horrible attitude and wouldn't smile or respond when I told her said "Good morning." Now, as an 8th grader, she smiles and gives me hugs and asks how my day is going. In fact, just today, a boy stopped by my office just to show me that his arms, that WERE NOT decorated with gang signs, and that today I wouldn't have to wipe the ink off his skin. Those are the small victories I'm talking about. And without fail, every year, there are students who inquire about my faith, Christianity, or the Bible. And its these times that I know why I am here.
There are days when I'm not 100%, and I don't want to face the busy day in uncomfortable shoes. Sometimes I just want to stay home and snuggle with my girls. But I have to go back to those lonely mornings in my portable that were spent in prayer, and remember there is a reason why I am placed in these kids' lives. If I have to spend my days away from my own kids, I am comforted in knowing that God has me right where He wants me, and its all part of a greater plan.
I encourage you to ask for what you want, be specific in what you want, and do it fervently without ceasing. If God wants to take you there, He will. He has it all there just waiting for you to ask for it. Prayer is powerful. Prayer can change your life. Prayer is heard.