Packing Away Summer Clothes
Whenever I put away my summer clothes in the fall and my winter clothes in the spring, I always tuck a little sheet of paper between the folds of the clothes. This piece of paper contains a list of people, situations, concerns I’ve been praying about for the past several weeks. When I unpack my clothes and retrieve the prayer list at the end of a season, usually April and October, then I’m able to see what was on my prayer list the previous six months. Since I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, here’s what I’ve discovered.
There are some very big changes that can happen in six months: Praying about a surgical procedure, a house purchase or a trip during April could mean by the time October arrives each of these requests has already been answered, and I am now recovered from my surgery, moved into my new house and paying the credit card bills on my trip. In April of last year, I was praying about moving my parents to Norman; and in October of last year, they had been living here for two months while six months later, my mother had passed away. In April of this year, James and I were praying about when to retire from Bethel, and now he has been retired for two weeks.
There are some things that don’t change in six months: I’m sometimes amazed to realize the problems or people or relationships for which I’m currently praying have been on my list not just once but twice, maybe even more, and nothing has changed. Six months may not be enough time to see the salvation of a friend or family member. The resolution of an ongoing conflict can creep along at a less-than-desirable pace. There are health issues that continue to persist. In addition, there will always be requests for myself and family members that involve similar petitions year after year for the Lord’s blessing and guidance.
There are some things that are insignificant after six months: The details of a seemingly overwhelming crisis in the spring can hardly be remembered by the time fall arrives.
There are some surprising things that can occur in six months: I can never anticipate what I will need to be praying for in the next week or the next month, so when I open up my list and realize a BIG EVENT happened, and six months ago it wasn’t even on my prayer radar, I’m amazed at how often the unexpected occurs.
So what is my incentive in reviewing this prayer list after six months? Outside of observing the discoveries I’ve just outlined, I believe it is foremost to see how God has worked in answering these prayers. As James and I go over the list, laughing about some things, amazed at surprising events, sorrowing over others, we just naturally start giving God glory and thanking Him for the way in which He answered our prayers. Plus, we acknowledge our utter dependence upon Him for anything yet to be resolved.
Prayer is for the glory of God. Jesus said in John 14:13, “And whatever you ask in my name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” As I put away the list this week, I did it with a prayer and a question, “What will you do, Father, in the next six months, to give yourself glory through these requests?”