This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions! In this devotional series, president, Fred Carpenter is reflecting on the important lessons of God that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.
Lessons in Praying Specific Prayer
By Fred Carpenter
The year was 1985. My work in media ministry was growing as was my young family. My wife, Nancy, and I had 2 small children and a third one was on the way.
One day I got a phone call from my distressed wife. She reported that she had been driving on the freeway with our two young children in the backseat, in their car seats, when suddenly our boisterous son, Wes, tried to open the back door of the car…from his car seat! Needless to say, Nancy was unnerved.
At that time, I was leading a men’s Bible Study. We always closed the study time with prayer, and on this day I shared what had happened with Nancy and Wes, and I requested prayer for their safety. Nothing more was said about the matter at that time.
God, of course, was continuing to move in my heart and mind to pray for my family as they traveled about town in our old Honda. It had been a great car, but it seemed that my family was about to outgrow it. I started asking God, “Do we really need another car or do I just want a new car? Show me, Father. I want to pray according to your will.”
I knew Philippians 4:19 to be true in my experience, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God reminded me what He had taught me about His provision when I first started in ministry. My personal paraphrase of Matthew 6:31 had become, “Don’t worry about your needs. You work for God now. You do what He is asking you to do and He will take care of what you need.”
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:31-33
God gave me the conviction that we did have need of a different car, and I began to pray for another car for Nancy. Someone else we knew in ministry had received a donation of a lime green Lincoln. It was a sight to see. Nancy and I nervously laughed that we hoped that our Father did not have a lime green car in mind for us.
That prompted us to talk about what kind of car we should ask God for. What did we need? Nothing fancy or expensive, what we needed was a full sized car in good condition preferably with some kind of child lock feature to keep our son safely inside the car while it was moving! Nancy was thinking blue, and I was leaning towards grey.
In the weeks that followed, my convictions grew to pray specifically for either a Delta 88, a Ford Galaxy, or a Chevrolet Impala (in that order) . . . all large enough to hold our growing family. (I was still leaning toward grey.) Over time God gave me the conviction that He was going to answer our prayer, though I didn’t know when or how. I rested in that conviction and prayed on with thankfulness (Phil 4:6-7).
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1
One morning after my men’s Bible study, one of the men asked me to follow him outside. I had not mentioned the car issue to this group of men since that day when we had prayed for my family’s safety. And there I stood, with this man, at the end of the driveway in front of a shiny new “grey” Delta 88! He was not at liberty to give it to us, but he did make it available to us to drive for the next 2 ½ years!
But that is not the end of the story! Our time was up for driving the grey Delta 88 and we were praying for God’s next provision. A man in the Sunday School class I was teaching heard we had need of a car. He knew he had the perfect car for us, and though he couldn’t give it to us, he offered it to us for next to nothing, and we could afford it. In God’s perfect way, His new provision was another Delta 88….in blue!
Fast forward to a new season where our family of two growing sons and a daughter began feeling the constraints of sharing the back seat of our sedan. Coming home from family camp, my son Wes stated that he thought it was time for a roomier vehicle. I said, “Wes, why don’t you pray specifically for what you believe we need?” He prayed for a car just like the one the “Smith’s” had (a very nice roomy suburban). A few weeks later, “Mr. Smith” called and asked if he could donate their suburban to the ministry; it had become too big for their needs! God answered Wes’ prayer with the exact car!
- A Specific answer to specific prayer glorifies God. The example, given in James 5:16-18 of a prayer of faith is a very specific prayer: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” See our devotional on this verse for more, https://devosfromthehill.org/2013/06/14/prayers-of-faith-and-cries-of-the-heart/
- “Effective Prayer” of James 5 begins with God, not with us. This is explored more in the link above, but from today’s post, notice that Fred’s specific prayer did not begin with Fred, it began with the conviction God gave him. It began with God. There can be a big difference between claiming what you want in prayer, and claiming what He wants for you. Knowing this difference is significant.
- You can have confidence that God will supply your needs (not necessarily your wants) in Christ Jesus. Remember Philippians 4:19? Also, consider…
No Soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. – 2 Timothy 2:4
A soldier in the army does not worry about what he will eat, or what he will wear, or where he will sleep. The army will take care of those things. The soldier has only to fulfill his mission as a soldier.
- Praying for your needs may be a progressive process. Prayer for a need may develop over time. Ask God to give you a conviction regarding what you need and how to pray for it. Remember Hebrews 11:1? Prayer about a specific need can be like using a telescope. First, you find the object. Next, you zoom in. Then you sharpen your focus on the object.