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Don't Just Pray, Prepare!

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Don't Just Pray, Prepare!

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Have you been praying for a blessing? Many young adults are at the phase in life where they ask "what next?" Perhaps you've just finished high school or college and are looking for that perfect job. Maybe you're ready to start dating seriously, or perhaps you're already married and your next step is to begin adding children to your family. Whatever your goals in life, it's always wise to take these desires to God in prayer. We're told that God listens to our prayers and answers them (Matthew 7:7-8). Christ told His followers, "whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matthew 21:22). Since this is the case, how do we walk away from our prayers? With the response, "well, we'll see" and going right back to what we were doing? What does belief look like?

I used to view belief as something that happened entirely in the head. If I could only believe something enough, my faith would be strong. In a conversation with a pastor, I was reminded that it's not just the believing that takes place in our heads that demonstrates our faith—it's how we choose to act on those beliefs. As we read in James 2:18, “someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Saying we believe something doesn't make as strong of a statement as following through and actually living God's way of life.

Collecting jars

An Israelite widow came to the prophet Elisha with a desperate dilemma. When her husband died, the family had been left so deep in debt that the creditors were ready to come and take away her two sons to serve as slaves. When Elisha asked what she had left, the woman shared that the only item of worth she owned was a jar of oil (2 Kings 4:1-2).

It's important to recognize that God can accomplish anything (Luke 1:37). Oil, or no oil, He could have solved this widow's problem. Perhaps she could have returned to her home and found a large pile of gold coins waiting on her table. There are certainly times God has chosen to work miracles without any specific actions required on the human side. But watch what happened in this woman's case!

Elisha instructed the woman, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones” (2 Kings 4:3-4). Would these directions have seemed crazy to you? No matter how big the original jar of oil was, there's no way it could have filled all the additional jars without help from God!

No matter what she thought of these strange instructions, the widow obeyed. “So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest’” (2 Kings 4:5-7). God performed a wonderful miracle!

Preparing to Receive

When the Israelite widow began to gather jars, she was preparing to receive a blessing. We do not always know the timing of when the blessing will arrive, as God answers prayers in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14-15). Yet, it's wise to prepare, like the woman who gathered jars for the oil she was about to receive. This principle can be used for anything, but I'll share a few excellent real-life examples of young adults who put in the preparation and were ready for the blessing when it came!

A young woman had to take a break from college because of a health crisis. When she recovered and reentered the workforce, she prayed for a job that fit her skillset, and she took action! Over the next several years, she studied and worked two jobs. She completed her degree, but made a surprising discovery—the job she chose had little to do with her course of study, but the professional skills she picked up during her college years made her the perfect fit for the role!

A young man had been single for a long time—dating opportunities seemed to fall through time and again. As he prayed for a wonderful woman to come into his life, he worked on developing himself as a person who would be a good future husband. He developed new skills at work, quickly becoming the most knowledgeable person on his team, and started saving money for a house. Finally, he set aside his dislike of large crowds and began traveling to more Church events. It wasn't long before he met his future wife!

One young adult came into the Church in her 20s and hadn't grown up with the opportunities of attending camp and the Feast of Tabernacles with friends. She prayed for someone that she could grow close to, despite not sharing some of these experiences during the teen years. When she was financially able to do so, she moved to a larger Church area and started to be very outgoing, inviting others, old and young alike, to meals at her home. Eventually, she made not one, but many, many close friends of all ages!

Collecting Your Jars

No matter where you are in life, you have the opportunity to start collecting jars, so to speak. This isn't an exhaustive list, but here are a few pieces of potential preparation pottery you could gather.

  • Take an elective or extra class to further develop a skill you'd like to learn or improve at.
  • Learn something new at your current job to add value to your employer and the company.
  • Reach out to people who aren't in your usual circle of friends and learn about their interests.
  • Attend an event you might not initially be interested in (a dance, sporting event, etc.).
  • Start a savings account (with or without a specific purchase in mind).
  • Pick up a new hobby or interest you currently know little or nothing about.
  • Learn some basic household skills and home repair techniques.
  • Help to care for children and practice teaching simple concepts.

Scripture compares humans to clay jars of God's design. “But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). As we work on our own development in these small areas, we are being developed by God as a vessel of His glory! 2 Corinthians 4:7 reminds us “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

Let's collect jars that are ready to receive the blessings God wants to give us—and let's be vessels that bring honor to Him, thanking Him for His wonderful design for our lives!