Why you shouldn’t pray like I did

“Oh! I have a house to sell, too! I’ll pray for the woman who’s going to buy it, just like you did! And then it will sell!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this. While I hope that my “praying upside down” story inspires others, this kind of conversation makes me squirm.

When I started praying that way, it didn’t feel like my idea. I believe God placed the idea into my mind. It happened during a time of prayer—I told God I was scared and didn’t know what I’d do if this went on much longer, and I got an instant thought-reply: Pray for the woman who will buy this house.

Like so often when God seems to speak, it was simple, direct, and not exactly logical. Over time, I discovered layer after layer to it. That I was to pray for her, not them. That things in her life had to line up before she’d be ready. I slowly discovered that praying this way helped me to understand that I was part of something else. That it took the focus off of my needs and made me more like Christ (although still far, far from coming close to Him). That praying this way and learning to care about her made it possible for Tim and I to be more generous when in the end we lost money in order to close the deal. After the house sold and I met Rosanne, the buyer formerly known as “that woman,” I learned that there were so many things that God did during that time.

Layer upon layer. God was faithful in the way He worked out the situation. He answered my prayers, and He answered Rosanne’s prayers, too. I love telling this story. (A side note: Having the story published in my first book answered yet another prayer.)

But here’s the problem with it all. I can’t promise God will answer you the same way He answered me.

I am sure He will answer. I am not sure when (it might be a very long time, or it might happen before I finish typing this sentence). I am not sure how He will answer (yes, no, maybe, not now). I am not sure what lessons He might want you to learn in the process, what people He wants to become part of your life, what decisions you will have to make, what sacrifices you will feel the need to offer. Although I believe God will be right there with you, I can’t even promise that you will see, hear, or feel Him.

So by all means, yes, pray for the woman who might someday buy your house. But, also, go to God with honesty. Be real. And spend some time listening. Maybe this is exactly what God wants you to pray, but maybe He has something else in mind for you. Something different—and yet better, because it is perfectly meant for you.

That’s why I get uncomfortable. It’s not wrong to see my story as a lesson and pray the way I did. But I am just afraid that people will see it as a magical answer, a formula. If I do this, then God will do that. But it really doesn’t work that way at all.

He is the reason this all worked. He is the reason I prayed the way I did.

The only credit I’ll take for everything that happened is this: I listened.

I don’t want to discourage you; instead, what I hope this post will do is encourage you to go back to God. To ask for your own, personal answer. To seek His direction. To ask Him what He wants you to do.

And then? Do it. Don’t second-guess yourself. Don’t apologize or make up excuses. Don’t wonder if you’re crazy for thinking you heard God. And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hear from Him.

Pray, and listen.

Pray, and put one foot in front of the other.

Pray, and ask God how to please Him.

Pray, and thank Him for His goodness.

Pray, and ask God to strengthen your faith.

Pray. And wait. Trust Him, and believe Him when He responds.

And know that, whatever comes, God is in it. Know that, however large the obstacle, God can overcome it. Know that, however long you have to wait, God knows what He is doing.

Allow yourself to believe that He has something in store for you.Perfectly tailored to fit your needs. The right size, the right solution, the right timing.

And allow Him to do His thing. Whatever it looks like, however it sounds.

Because God is the one who turned my prayers upside down. And the One who made everything right. He is the One who came up with the crazy solution, and He is the one who enacted it. He gave me hope, and He provided the hope.

And He is the One who will do the exact same thing for you.

Only thing is, it may look completely different.


Tell me—What are you struggling with right now? Leave a comment and rest assured that I will pray for you.

6 Responses to “Why you shouldn’t pray like I did”

  1. I laid my sweet mother in law to rest this past week and it was hard and difficult week. I am a teacher and in the closing weeks of school and feel broken and sad and trying to claw my way back but it is hard.

    • Oh, Tammy, my heart is with you. Give yourself a gift — allow yourself plenty of time to find your way back, and don’t beat yourself up. Right now you’ll just be getting through things, probably not much more than that. And that’s OK. Try to remember that this is just a season. And that God is with you through it. I’ll be praying for you.

  2. Geralyn Murphy says:

    so sorry for your loss, Tammy; how blessed you are to have known your mother-in-law and lived part of her life with her; allow God to penetrate your heart as you grieve the loss of the school year, the loss of her and rest in HIS sufficiency to work all things for good; HE is better and stronger and more than all we can suffer!!!!

    and Kelly – we too, have just gone through the sale of our home and God has lead us to a new one – small and not one i would have chosen – which is how I know it is all God; i don’t know how we are going to fit in it, but i know that we are; i don’t know how God can use us in the new neighborhood, but i know that HE will; HE is our only hope and our only sufficiency in this world and i have prayed for HIM to show me all HE is!!! that is all i know – that the LAW of the LORD is perfect – revives the soul and the testimony of the LORD is sure – making wise the simple – may we be simply revived as we wait to see all GOD will do through loss, grief and change as we adjust our lives and our hearts to HIM. be encouraged and go out to LOVE and SERVE the LORD; receive HIS Spirit of love and truth and rest.

    • Geralyn, wow, lots of changes… and, knowing God is in it, lots of GOOD things are bound to happen. So excited to see what Ge does. Prayers for you, too, to be open and responsive and willing.

  3. SAM says:

    Pray for my Derrick. He tries to make minnows out of whales, or mountains out of molehills. Like drinking beer or any alcohol and will not admit that it’s a problem and seek help. Temper issues, thought processing disorder adha. I fell in love with him before I figured out the truth. And a house divided will not stand! I pray that God opens his eyes, and heart to Him. That he becomes a man after Jesus’s heart. It’s the only way. And my 21 year old daughter and her husband – they are not getting along. And she’s been going to raves and dancing on stage. There are drugs abound and drinking along with people being free. It’s a modern day Woodstock it’s what is called indigo lifestyle. Please pray that she gets out of that lifestyle and that my 16 year old daughter doesn’t get into it either. My mother who grew up in church thinks that she’s going to be in heaven because she’s a good person. Please pray for my family, those I love and for myself to not give p or give in!

    • Sam, you sure have a lot to carry. Some things are too much for us to carry, but not too much for Him. Asking Him to lift the burden of this from you. You’re doing the right thing, lifting those you love in prayer, yearning for them to open themselves to God. Praying for all of these things… and for you to rest peacefully in His presence. To know that nothing is too big or too hard for God. And to trust that God is right there with all those you love.

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