Just recently, I was reminded that our prayers have no expiration date, and I was so encouraged to keep on praying those bold prayers. I hope this little story will also be an encouragement for you to “keep on praying!”
Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. put it this way: Our prayers have NO EXPIRATION DATE. They don’t expire when we do. God will answer some of them LONG AFTER we are LONG GONE.
Well, I’m not gone yet, but God recently answered a prayer I had given up on in the past.
Back in June, it was so exciting to announce to Element Church our newest ongoing Outreach opportunity. As a church, we own a building that has over 70,000 square feet of space. Since we don’t use all of the space, we have tenants who rent out business space from us. We also give free space to a local community outreach for under-privileged children called “Friday Food Bags”.
For several months now, Suite 301 on our property has sat empty. It’s a difficult space to fill because it sits directly between the main entrance doors of our church, and a day care that rents from us on the other side. Finding a tenant that won’t be interrupted by or interrupt our ministry on Sunday, while also having the same be true for the day care on Monday – Friday has been tough.
After months of no luck filling that space, we started to pray about using it to serve our community. For years now, it has been a dream of ours to provide a free, indoor, climate-controlled playground for families to use all year long, especially when the weather makes it uncomfortable or even un-safe for kids to be outside. This indoor playground was a part of our initial dream when we began to remodel the facility we are in. The playground quickly got cut from the budget, as more immediate needs were addressed first, for the health of our long term ministry.
Well, that remodel is a long way behind us now, and through the radical generosity of God’s people, we have been able to save and plan some resources that we simply call “Opportunity resources,” in our budget. These are dollars that are not allocated to the day to day operations for the church, or the emergency savings that we have in place. They are simply set aside for those “God opportunities” that arise, and this was one of those opportunities.
Lord willing, in October of this year, we will be opening “PlayCity Playground”; a free indoor playground for the community, open through the entire year. The playground itself has already been paid for, in cash, and will be on sight here in the next few weeks for install. We are purchasing tables, chairs and games for kids and families to use while inside. We’re also planning on making PlayCity available, for free, to reserve for birthday parties and celebrations. (You can see a picture of the playground itself below)
Some of you are wondering what happened with the prayer focus we started with. Well, here’s how PlayCity and prayer go hand in hand.
For about 10 years now, I’ve been doing a form of prayer journaling where I number any specific prayer requests I have, date it, and then continue praying for it until God answers that prayer. (By the way, God ALWAYS answers our prayers. “No” is also an answer!)
If God answers my prayer in the way I was asking, I put a check mark on it, and wherever I’m at in my journal, I’ll write down the details about how God answered that prayer. This has been one of the biggest faith builders in my life. To go back and see all the ways God has come through for me has been amazing.
If God doesn’t answer the prayer in the affirmative, or if I feel like I should stop praying for that specific request, I just put an “X” through the number, and move on. For as many check marks as my prayer journal has, there are also lots and lots of X’s. By the way, it’s the check marks that get you through the X’s.
This past Monday, I was doing my normal morning routine, spending time in the Word and then in prayer. I was going through my prayer journal when I noticed a prayer I had crossed out. It’s the prayer in the picture at the beginning of this blog, a prayer for an indoor playground.
I knew that it had been a dream of ours to add an indoor playground, but I forgot that it had been a prayer request of mine in my journal. All the way back on January 21st of 2009, I began praying for God to provide an indoor playground for our community. This would have been long before we ever started the remodel process, so it wasn’t anything that was in the plan, it was just a prayer request to God.
I don’t remember when I gave up on this prayer. Maybe it was during our Capital Campaign when commitments weren’t coming in at the clip we needed them to for the entire remodel. Maybe it was when we initially cut the playground from the remodel budget. I don’t know when I gave up, all I know is that God didn’t.
Here we are, nine and a half years later, and God said “Yes” to a prayer request that I had given up on. I may have stopped verbalizing my prayer, but God was still hearing it reverberate in the spiritual realm.
When I saw that on Monday, my heart was filled with faith. It reminded me to keep on praying. It re-energized me on some prayers I was about to give up on. It re-affirmed my belief that God does hear our prayers.
I don’t know what prayer you’re about to give up on, but unless God tells you to stop, don’t give up on that prayer. It might feel like it’s a lost cause, but don’t give up on that prayer. It may feel like there is no way it could happen, but don’t give up on that prayer. Don’t put an “X” where God may want to put a checkmark! I’m joining you in your prayer!
Notice, on my initial prayer request it said “Coffee Shop” as well. Things that make you go, “Hmmmm!”