I have a confession: For most of my life, I have not been so great at prayer. I have struggled to have a daily time of prayer, and I have not interceded for others on a regular basis. My prayers have usually been pretty vague, simply asking the Lord's will to be done in certain situations.
But all of that began to change last year. I'm not really sure how or when it started, but I remember one day reading The Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8, and feeling convicted that I needed to pray morning and night for an end to the hold on referrals and MOWCYA opinions. It was also then that I began praying for specific families. Every day. Morning and night. For the first time in my life, I was praying pretty specifically, and on a daily basis.
Over time, the Lord began to answer those prayers. One by one, families began receiving their MOWCYA opinions and bringing their children home; and families started receiving referrals again. And I felt SO BLESSED that the Lord allowed me to be a part of what He was doing!
So I just continued to pray. I began to pay even more attention to the families ahead of us in the process, and would pray for them daily by name. Over the last several months, I have been blessed to see people I now consider friends receive referrals, travel for court, pass court, be submitted to the Embassy, have their file forwarded to USCIS, receive a Request for Evidence, and finally be able to bring their children home. It has certainly been a rough ride for many of my friends, but I have felt so blessed to be able to intercede on their behalf.
Let me be clear on this: I don't think prayer changes God's mind. Often it changes me, instead. But my experience in praying for so many friends over the last year has helped me trust even more in His timing and Sovereignty. And more than anything, when the things I've been asking for actually happen, I know immediately that it was the Lord's work. So often in the past, when good things would happen, I wouldn't even think to thank the Lord for them because He wasn't really even on my radar. Through prayer, I have learned to thank Him even for the small things because I now see how He's at work all of the time.
That's why back in October I began asking every day that He would give us our referral. I didn't ask that He would give it to us "soon," but that day. For about a month I prayed each day that that would be the day we got our referral. The day it occurred to me to ask that, I started not to ask. For so long I believed that God didn't want to give me the things I asked for because He wanted to teach me some other lesson, instead. And while sometimes that's true, I realized that day that it also kept me for asking for things I knew He delighted in giving me. So that October day, I began asking for our referral each day. And then on November 23, after asking every day for about a month, we got the call. And immediately I knew it was a gift from Him. It didn't just happen because it was bound to happen one day. It was a gift from the God who delights in giving good gifts to His children in His perfect timing.
Very shortly after receiving our referral, it occurred to me that I should ask the Lord to show us His favor and allow us to bring Lottie home by her first birthday (April 6). I knew it was a bit of a long shot, but I felt like He gave me permission to keep asking until He said "No." Just five and a half weeks after receiving our referral (not the average 8 weeks), we received a call from our caseworker, telling us that our court date was 17 days away (not the average 30 days). Although we didn't pass court on our first court date, we did pass about a month sooner than the average. And so, here we are, 2 weeks after passing court, seven and a half weeks until Lottie's first birthday, and our file has not yet been submitted to the Embassy. I have no idea if it's realistic to hope that we can bring Lottie home by her first birthday, but since I have not yet heard the Lord say "No", I will continue to ask.
And so I present you with an opportunity to pray too. In the past, I have been very hesitant to share prayer requests because I wanted to be self-sufficient. But I've begun to realize how selfish it actually is for those who truly want to pray. I have benefited so much by being able to pray for others that it only seems fitting that you have the opportunity to be involved in what the Lord is doing in our lives by praying for our situation. So, if you'd like, please join us in asking the Lord to show us favor and allow us to bring Lottie Mastewal home by her first birthday. He may say, "No," and if so, that will not shatter our faith. But He may just say, "Yes." Either way, He is moving in our adoption and working it out in His timing. It is a blessing to us to know that people are praying with us and for us - and I think it will be a blessing to you too to pray as you watch His plans unfold.