by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson


Specific Prayer

Have you ever put God to the test by praying specifically?  I did on the evening of October 22, 1997, when I pleaded, “Lord I pray that by next Monday, Howie will never again have a facial twitch.”  To this day, I am amazed at how God answered that prayer.

It was a Wednesday night, and we had just returned home from prayer meeting at Bible Baptist.  Over the previous couple of months, Howie had suffered from twitches on the left side of his face, caused by pressure on the motor strip in his brain.  These twitches were increasing in frequency and intensity.  That night, Howie had a bad twitch that contorted the left side of his face for a few minutes.  He couldn’t talk and could hardly move.  With tears streaming down my face, I placed on hands on his face and prayed the prayer above.  I didn’t know how God was going to answer my prayer, but I truly believed He would.
    Earlier that week, I had heard a speaker on Christian radio talk about the importance of praying specifically.  He shared how God had dramatically answered his prayer for his wife’s health.  He shared that when we pray in generalities, we don’t usually know when God has answered.  But when we pray specifically, we can really see Him work in our lives.  Our faith is then strengthened and He is glorified.
    The day after Howie’s big twitch, a series of events began that we had never anticipated.  We were relaxing at home following a day a work when Howie called out, “Honey, I can’t feel my left hand!”  I checked it out and it was definitely weaker than normal.  He told me that a cup had slipped out of that hand earlier.  We both felt frightened at this strange development.  We prayed together and his hand felt stronger by bedtime.  He called in sick for the next day, and we decided to call his doctor first thing in the morning.
    On Friday morning, Howie’s left hand was weak again.  We called his neurologist, Dr. Engstrand, and found out she was on vacation.  Her nurse told us to go to the emergency room immediately.  Our hearts filled with fear, we rushed to Huntington Hospital.  On the way, we prayed, “Lord, please send along the right doctor to help us!”  When we arrived at the hospital, Howie’s left arm and hand were so weak he couldn’t even open the car door!  We rushed into the emergency room with tears streaming down our faces.
    Dr. Winter, the neurologist on duty, immediately took over and ran a series of tests that showed something was definitely wrong.  He introduced us to neurosurgeon Dr. David Chalif, who just “happened” to be visiting the hospital that day.  He looked at the scans and told us Howie had either a recurrent tumor or bleeding on the brain.  He scheduled emergency surgery for the following Monday morning at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.  We believe God answered our prayers for the right doctor by placing Dr .Chalif at Huntington Hospital at just the time we needed him!
    When I prayed that Howie would never again have another facial twitch as of Monday, October 27, 1997, I never dreamed God would answer my prayer with another brain surgery, but since that day, Howie has never suffered another facial twitch!  Our God is truly an awesome God!

God wants His children to pray fervently and specifically.  If we are trusting Him as our Savior and walking in obedience, we can have confidence that He will hear and answer our prayers.  We need to keep in mind that God is sovereign and knows what is best for us.  God may answer our prayer by saying “No” if what we’re asking for will cause harm or drive us away from Him.  He may say “Wait” if the time is not yet right for our prayer to be answered.  Or He may say “Yes” immediately.  While answering our prayer, He may even take us through the fires of testing.  God wants us to approach the throne of grace with boldness, bringing our petitions before Him.  “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  We should pray specifically so we can see Him working, but never dictate to Him how to answer our prayer.  That is His prerogative, for He alone is Lord!

Andrew Murray, in his book With Christ In the School of Prayer, explains that by telling God our specific requests:

....Our desires are put to the test to see whether they are honest and real and are according to God’s Word.  We also consider whether we really believe we will receive the things we ask.  Such reflective prayer helps us to wait for the special answer and to mark it when it comes....
    In our dealings with God, the business element must be present.  Our expressions of need, sin, love, faith, and consecration must be accompanied by an explicit statement of what we are asking for and what we expect to receive.  In response, the Father loves to give us a token of His approval and acceptance....

    Such a will is not at variance with our dependence on God and our submission to Him.  Rather, it is the true submission that honors God.  It is only when the child has yielded his own will in entire surrender to the Father that he receives from the Father the liberty and power to will what he desires.  Once the believer has accepted the will of God, as revealed through the Word and the Spirit, as his will, too, then it is the desire of God that His child use this renewed will in His service....
    Lord!  Renew, strengthen, and sanctify my entire will for the work of effectual prayer.
For Those Who Hurt

Don’t hesitate to call out to God in your time of need.  Pray fervently and specifically, trusting Him to work on your behalf If you are His child and your prayers are in accordance to His will, He has promised to answer you at the right time.  He may surprise you with how He answers your prayer, but trust Him to do what is best.  You’ll never be the same once you’ve seen Him answer specific prayer in a dramatic way!  You’ll know personally that this promise Jesus gave His followers is true: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).



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Chapter 22: An Open Book Table of Contents Chapter 24: Never Alone