Jeremiah 29:12 ~ “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

Mark 11:24 ~ “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Romans 12:2 ~ “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The Bible is full of passages about prayer. I have to admit, my prayer life is more like an ongoing conversation with God and sometimes I forget what I’ve talked to Him about. I also have to admit all that talk about “ask and you shall receive” was lost on me when I was about 28 and I was STILL SINGLE. Imagine when year 30, 35, and 40 came around! “ANSWERED PRAYER”! HA! I was STILL SINGLE, and dating, and angry. There are, however, moments in my life that are stand-out “prayer” moments when I REMEMBER a specific prayer and while the results may not have been exactly my “heart’s desire”, I realized what answer I DID GET that was “His good, pleasing and perfect will”. Most recently, it seems my prayer life has changed and my PERSPECTIVE on ANSWERED PRAYER has changed. When I go out, I ASK, but my seeking and understanding has shifted. There was a time when I dreaded dating, however, through a LOT of prayer, and this shifted focus, God has seemingly turned my perspective and my heart on the activity around 180 degrees. He’s given me a new HOPE about the purpose of dating in my life, and what HIS “Answered Prayer” may look like. Let me explain….

Many years ago, I was new to the area and I was in search of friends. I remember going to a party once and saying a little prayer. It went something like this, “God, I really need tonight to be something special. I need to meet people and feel connected. I need your help. Amen.” I probably was hoping I’d meet “the man of my dreams” that night, but I did not. I did, however, go into that party and meet several people, one of which is a dear friend to this day, over 20 years later. She’s been such a blessing and a gift through the years. Hope. Answered prayer.

At the start of 2018, I was home early. It was a Saturday night. Usually Saturday nights are full of activities with friends and outings. This night was different. I had made no plans and I was content to stay in. It was cold out, and I needed my rest. I was happy to call it a night. I was in bed by 8:00. Not my typical Saturday night.

Then my friend called and urged me to join him out just a couple miles away from my house. I told him I would think about it, but I doubted it since I had just “taken my face off” for the day. As I lay in bed, I tried to sleep. It was early and sleep didn’t come. Probably because I was so cold, nothing seemed to warm me. My mind wandered to other cold places, feeling sad that I didn’t have anyone IN my life to keep me company. Being single at this stage of life brings with it these moments, of course, and as I continued, I thought about the ex-boyfriend, the “one that I let get away”….and with all of these thoughts I pulled myself out of bed and decided that I’d have a more productive night OUT than sulking, cold, and alone IN. I got up, dressed and “put my face back on”.

Prior to going out, I whispered that a prayer and I remembered how he had answered the other one from years ago, “God, The reason I’m going out right now is because I’m feeling lonely and alone. I need to know you are with me. Please show me you are…kind of like you did so many years ago…You remember when…. Amen”. And off I went. Upon arrival, I had several people greet me and introduce themselves to me. I was happy that they took the time to break the ice. An hour or two into the evening a gentleman made his way over and we chatted. While I was enjoying meeting everyone, his personality stood out. As we talked, the others filtered away, and it was just the two of us. We discovered that we had many things in common and our similarities kept stacking up. Then he spoke about singing and playing in the band at church! This was literally music to my ears. We continued our conversation into the night and when I left, I whispered a “Thank you, God” under my breath and went home. Hope. Answered prayer.

A few months prior, a former co-worker of mine that I have not worked with in several years texted me. She and some other former co-workers had met a gentleman, someone they thought would be a great “match” for me. I haven’t had anyone try to set me up on a date in…I can’t remember …so the text was a welcome one. I asked a few questions, and with a few clicks, I encouraged them to give him my pic and number and give him permission to contact me. After doing some research, I was excited to have him call.

This instance connected me to my former co-workers in a fun and different way that breathed life into my social world in a way for which I was extremely grateful. In the moments I met him, and reconnected with them, seemed to meet a different need each time. Hope. Answered Prayer.

Fast-forward several months. There was another moment when, while meeting a date for the first time, he used sign language within the first five minutes of our conversation (I know sign language and have several deaf friends and friends that are interpreters). I thought it unusual that he would know sign. Turned out we had several other unusual things in common as well. I felt that God was continuing to “wink” at me through my dating experiences. Hope. Answered Prayer.

Shortly after, I went out with a different man whose dad had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three weeks prior. My dad died of pancreatic cancer in three weeks. We shared an incredibly meaningful evening discussing our dads and the pain that comes with watching your father die. Not an easy night, however, the depth and meaning of the discussion was important to me, and at the moment felt like what I needed and I believe he needed as well. Hope. Answered Prayer.

Finally, a few days after my birthday and after several more dates with various gentle (and not so gentle)men, I met another man out for dinner. He was kind. He was curious to get to know me. He was interesting. We had a lovely evening. When we walked to our cars, he had flowers for me for my birthday. A lovely arrangement full of flowers I love. As a single woman, having a “special someone” on your birthday can mean so much. I realize a man can’t “fill” a void, but having someone special to celebrate with is something I look forward to, and flowers are ALWAYS nice on a birthday. His gift of good conversation, kindness, and flowers….Another ANSWERED PRAYER. More Hope.

These Answered Prayers weren’t THE SPECIFIC ANSWERED prayer I may have been praying. However, I realize that through each encounter, God provided something special, unique, and different…… something I wouldn’t have THOUGHT to ask for. But what was also so important, He provided HOPE. Truly, without HOPE, people perish. Knowing HE is WITH ME, listening, watching and guiding my path, makes life (and dating) exciting and refreshing. Each experience gave me a smile and a sense of hope in a different way. I truly believe that through each kindness, connection, and meaningful similarity, God is speaking quietly and gently to me letting me know HE is WITH me on this journey of singleness, and all I need to do is continue to trust, pray, and watch for the ANSWERED PRAYERS and allow HIM to give me HOPE.

 

Shara Carter

Shara Carter

Hosea 2: 14-15