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Christmas, Cardinals & Prayer

Have you ever had a time when you had a decision to make and just didn't know what to do? I'm talking decisions like buying a house, accepting another job, changing careers, how or if to spend money, even making a donation. You could go with your "gut" and make a decision but earnestly wanted to do only what God wanted for you in that particular decision. So, you prayed, you waited but seemingly no clear direction or answer. Lord, should I or should I not?  You then prayed, fasted and waited some more.  Finally, you asked for a sign!

Years ago a very dear friend of mine and I were praying about a financial decision.  It was a big decision, so we prayed and waited and prayed some more.  Finally, not knowing what do to we asked God for a sign.  Here's the story...

It was early December so the weather was cold, the days short, and the trees bare.  Even with the bird feeders full, there always seemed a shortage of Cardinals that time of the year in that particular part of the US. When you did spot a male Cardinal in a bare tree or against the snow it would take your breath away.  So, our earnest prayer went something like this:  

"Lord, if you want us to proceed forward and do it, then show us both a cardinal on this particular day."  

Okay, so just in case you are laughing or shaking your head, my God is certainly able and truly, the possibility of us both seeing a cardinal on that particular day would certainly be "of God."  This was not an impossible sign and the heart of the request was to do what would be right and pleasing to Him.  So, don't judge!

That particular day came and there were no cardinal sightings by either one of us by mid morning.  None by mid-day.  Still none when the sun went down.  Thank you, Lord.  We had our answer.  We will not go in that direction! That particular day also happened to be the day my dear husband was taking me to Longwood Gardens to experience A Longwood Christmas. Oh, it was so beautiful!  Toward the end of the evening tour, we entered one of the buildings that had a few different rooms with various wreath displays. As I entered one of the rooms, my breath was taken way.  Every wreath in the room had one or more Cardinals on it made from a variety of materials.  I literally started laughing out loud.  I called my friend to see if fake Cardinals counted and if she had seen any!  We reckoned fake could be a sign, but she had not seen any fake Cardinals either.  Now we were both laughing!

Through this experience, the Lord encouraged me in two ways:

  1. Fervently and with great expectation, take any and all requests to the Lord.  Keep praying!
  2. Before praying, stop and ask His Spirit to lead me and show me how to pray - specifically!

I will never forget that experience and the laughs that my friend and I had over it but also the fun moment it was with the Lord.  You see, before He ever spoke  the world into existence He thought of  and planned for me and my friend.  He knew exactly what we would be seeking from Him and on what day.  He also knew that on that day I would be walking into a room filled with fake Cardinals. The word from the Lord spoken into my heart that day? No go girls but I heard the cry of your hearts so surprise!

In sharing this experience, I am praying (specifically) that you too will be encouraged in these ways. Fervently and in great faith, take all your requests to the Lord.  Keep praying!  Before praying, stop and ask his Spirit to lead you and show you how to pray - specifically!  Since the time of this story, I've tried to stop and ask myself what I really want to ask the Lord to do in each situation and for His Spirit to show me how to pray - specifically!  These two things are not necessary to being heard or having my prayers answered.  But, I love it and I love Him all the more for leading me by His Spirit to pray specifically!  I love, love, love when I pray specifically and He answers specifically.  It's thrilling.  It's amazing.  It's a wonder.  He's a wonder!