Have you ever found yourself pleading with God? Most of us would probably answer yes to that question, which is why I’m so glad my friend Janet Thompson’s new release is on this very subject. Face-to-Face with Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah: Pleading with God is the latest in her series of books designed for women to study together in mentor-mentee relationships (she calls them M&Ms). The book is also great for small group study, or for individual use. You can find out more about the book here.
Now let’s talk to Janet more about pleading with God.
What’s the difference between asking God for something, and pleading with Him?
Janet: Prayers can metamorphosis into begging God to perform in a way we think is best. Even a woman of strong faith can experience a crisis of faith when life doesn’t turn out as she expects and she knows God could intervene on her behalf. When we plead, we’re usually desperately invested in the outcome.
Is it wrong to plead with God?
God definitely wants us to pray with sincerity and passion. Many life issues, especially crises, naturally lead to pleading with God. How we react when He doesn’t immediately respond, or we don’t like His answer can lead to bargaining and negotiating with Him, or like Sarah and Rachel in the Bible, taking matters into our own hands. Learning to rest in God’s sovereignty and wait on His timing—as Hannah did—is our goal.
What is the best way to cope when God’s answer is “wait” or “no”?
Knowing God and believing that He is good and gracious and wants the best for us is the key to patient perseverance. He’s waiting to reap the maximum harvest from our situation: maybe it’s to show His glory in a miracle or discount Satan. Perhaps someone will accept Christ through the outcome, what a blessing. Or maybe He’s working on our character and spiritual maturity or growing the faith of people viewing our circumstances.
If we feel He’s gone silent, we could be expecting Him to respond in a particular or familiar way. He is talking—we just need to listen and remember that His perfect timing might not be our preferred timing. During times of pleading, experience peace with God by discovering a purpose in your pain.
Can you share with us a personal story about when you pleaded with God for something? What happened?
Praying God’s Word back to Him and personalizing Scriptures helps in hearing God because He speaks to us through His Word and it also helps focus on God’s will and not our own will. In another of my books, Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share the story of praying God’s Word back to Him for my prodigal daughter, Kim, every day.
After three years, it seemed like God wasn’t listening. He had gone silent. Then one day I heard from Him, I want her back more than you do. That was all I needed to continue earnestly and persistently praying for her even though I didn’t see any changes. I knew God was working behind the scenes and He was expecting me to keep praying because I trusted Him, not because I saw or heard Him.
It took almost three more years before she made the turn back to God and to me and today she’s a godly woman, wife, and mother. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on God or Kim.
What did you learn while preparing this Bible study that surprised you?
Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah, each pleaded with God for a baby, but I wanted to include other life circumstances where women might plead with God, so I sent out a request for stories. I was amazed at the response and the variety of stories I received. Women were graciously willing to share their vulnerable experiences to let other women know they were not alone. That’s the heart of mentoring: sharing those been-there-done-that experiences and with God’s help I made it through and you will too.
Could military wives benefit from doing this study with a mentor/mentee or a group of friends long-distance? Do you have any tips for making the online study successful?
Definitely! The Face-to-Face Bible study series has M&M questions for two women to do together and there’s also a leader’s guide in the back of each book for studying as a group.
To study online, I would suggest each woman have a copy of the book and agree how much of the study they want to cover when they virtually meet. There are 5 sessions and each session consists of 5 days.
They would each do the study on their own and then arrange a time to either chat online via email, yahoo chat, Facebook message, Skype, conference phone—whatever means they all have to communicate back and forth. They can discuss their answers to the questions or utilize the Leader’s Guide for areas of focus.
My daughter-in-law is a military wife, and I have seen how valuable it is for her to spiritually mentor other military wives, and also be mentored by wives who have been in the military longer than her. Sometimes it’s awkward to know where to start and doing a Bible study together provides that needed conversation opener.
Janet Thompson is a speaker and author of two new releases: Face-to-Face with Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah: Pleading with God and Face-to-Face with Lois and Eunice: Nurturing Faith in Your Family. There are 5 additional Face-to-Face Bible studies in the series.
Other books by Janet: Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents; The Team That Jesus Built: How To Develop, Equip, and Commission a Women’s Ministry Team and Woman to Woman Mentoring Resources.
Janet is also soliciting stories for her March 2013 book Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-At-Home Man. To contribute a story, email firstname.lastname@example.org. She is especially interested in stories from military wives of reintegration. Visit Janet at www.womantowomanmentoring.com