God laughed on my 24th birthday…
Back when I was in high school….way, way back. Back when computer screens were green, Nickelodeon’s most popular show was “Clarissa Explains it All” and Micheal Jackson was not only alive, but still looked human. Back in the days when car phones were the size of a shoe box and reserved for only the wealthy and important. When hairspray came in metal cans and were meant to be bought and consumed weekly.
Back then, there was a singer named MC Hammer. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Big, baggy shiny gold pants. Coined the phrase (and the song and the dance move) “Hammer Time”. His most popular song was “Can’t Touch This”. But the song that I liked the best was “Pray.” In it, he rapped:
“You’ve got to pray just to make it today.” (insert Hammer Time dance — oh, yes, it was in all his music videos. Classic.)
Throughout the Bible, prayer is used as a means to worship, to cry out, to seek forgiveness, wisdom, clarity, guidance. Prayer is communication with God, but it isn’t just one-way communication. God speaks back to us – through His word, through His Holy Spirit, and through answered prayer.
But I have found that I often fail to offer prayers that I can see actual answers to. I pray, “God, bless Emma.” or “God, help me be more like you.” Good prayers, but how can I really “see” Emma blessed or myself becoming more like Christ? Those prayers are too vague, and so I miss out on the blessings of answered prayer.
My mother-in-law is one of the godliest women I know. She taught me the importance of specific prayer over a decade ago, when I was pregnant with my first child. She challenged me to pray specifically for the whole pregnancy and delivery. So I did. I had two pages of requests, from the time of day I wanted to deliver (not during rush hour, not when Dave was gone to work) to how long I wanted to be in labor (no more than 10 hours). I also had kind of a silly prayer. I was 23 when we found out I was pregnant. I thought 23 sounded too young to have a baby. Dave and I had been married two years at the time, but still. I don’t know why, but I really wanted to be 24 when I had Emma.
I went into labor January 30, at 11:00 at night (Dave was home and there was no traffic). I had Emma at 8:50am. Less than ten hours later, on my 24th birthday. Not only did God answer my prayer, but he did it with humor. I could just imagine Him sitting up there saying, “All right, Krista, you want to be 24? You’ve got it. Bam. Happy birthday!” (And, by the way, BEST birthday present ever!)
Since then, I have tried to continue to practice specific prayer. Not just for me, but for others. And not just requests, but praises. Not “Thank you God for everything,” but “Thank you, God, for this sunset.” “Thank you for keeping us healthy the first week of school,” “Thank you for the book of Psalms that teaches us how to praise and pray and cry out to You.”
It’s amazing what being specific does. It strengthens my faith. It draws me closer to God. It allows me to see His power at work in and around me.
MC Hammer may not be the best role model ever, but did get it right at least once. We really do need to pray just to make it today (insert Hammer Time dance — why not?). I have experienced the blessings of specific prayers and praises. Have you? If not, start today. Right now. I mean now. Walk away from your computer, iPad, phone or whatever you’re using to read this and get on your knees.
“You’ve got to pray!”
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!