When God Answers Prayers You Didn't Pray

This past summer, TJ and I hopped in the car because we had to go pick up the van from the surgery center after his pain medication wore off. It had been a crazy couple of weeks. TJ broke his hand and ended up needing surgery, which sent us into a tailspin of stress and left us feeling desperate for some hope. Before we left, one of our kids was really struggling and TJ tried to help. The conversation went nowhere and we both left the house bewildered, discouraged, and sad.


"What am I supposed to say?" TJ asked me sadly.



"I don't know. I don't know. In this book I'm reading, The Power of Showing Up, they talk about being there for your kids when they are experiencing negative emotions (even if they are sad or mad because of you). But the hardest part of parenting children who have experienced trauma is that they don't come to you when you're upset. They never come to us. We never get to console them. It's one of the parenting rewards we never get to experience."


When we returned home, the conversation continued to be fruitless. Not only that, it seemed to be escalating, the opposite of what we wanted. I was in the baby's room trying to get him to nap, when something amazing happened.


The child who was struggling stormed into the room and tears fell as if they'd been stuck and needed to be released. I gave a hug and offered my calm. I explained that TJ was just trying to help and understand, that they were on the same team. Then, he came in and gave a hug too.


I had just said in the car that we never get to experience consoling and comforting our kids, that we never will get to experience that fulfillment of the investment of love we continually pour into them. I had complained about how exhausting it is to love in the face of rejection.


Then, in a matter of an hour, I received the gift of consoling and comforting. I experienced the joy of being able to be a strong, stable anchor for a kid who desperately needed a hug.


While I communicated this desire as a complaint to my husband, the Lord interpreted it as a prayer. And He answered it immediately.


The world has felt out of sorts this past year. Sometimes I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience, trying to juggle five kids in very different stages, keep the house at a base-level of clean, spend time with Jesus, figure out how to nurse the baby, understand and implement trauma parenting, work, write, exercise, and make dinner. Prayer isn't something that just comes to me. I honestly don't even know the thoughts that are entering my head most of the time. I am not very self-aware these days.


But is God limited to our finite, beginning-and-end view of prayer? Or could it be that prayer is a life lived in His honor, for His glory? Do we believe that he will only answer the prayers that are written in our trendy journals with our pretty pens? Or will he also answer the prayers that we mutter when we're still half asleep first thing in the morning? Will he answer prayers that exit our mouths as complaints?


Of course, we can and should spend time with the Lord and be silent before Him. But also, God is keenly aware of our desires and pays attention to us. He's answering prayers we pray, and he's answering prayers that we didn't even know we needed to pray. But are we paying attention?


I spent the rest of the day - in the middle of my stressed-out chaos - in awe of a God who sees me and my family, knows our needs, and provides, redeems, and restores, even when provision, redemption, and restoration seem impossible, even when we don't know how to ask for it. He hears us and responds to us, even when all we can get out is a complaint.


He is God of the impossible, after all.




Some Truth for Ya:

Luke 18:1-8

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”


Romans 8:26-28

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.


Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible."

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