God does answer prayer!
Ever since we moved to Florida it had been the desire of my heart to put my three daughters in a “hybrid school,” where they could homeschool part of the week and attend a separate school the rest. Right after we moved, we started hunting, and the only one that seemed to exist was far too expensive. As life got busier I was feeling the need of a school like this more and more, and regularly asking God to help me find an affordable one.
Then on Facebook I discovered a little country school called Darby Community School where children attend Mondays and Wednesdays and stay home the other days. Better, it was only one town away! It was as if God had planted that school there just for me, and I was excited. The problem was that when I looked at the tuition, I found I’d need $6,600 for my three daughters to attend. It might as well have been a million.
Prior to this I had been reading a book called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, which asserts that many Christians do not know how to pray like the generations of the past and do not understand that they miss out on a lot of blessings because they just don’t ask! God delights in giving good gifts to His children, and sometimes “we have not because we ask not.” The book taught that if you can “pray through” something and exercise your faith in spite of the circumstances, God will show Himself faithful time and time again.
I had found this inspiring, and with Darby in mind, it came to me that this was my chance to put faith to the test and show God that I could believe Him for the impossible. I felt like the Holy Spirit clearly said to me, “Christy, you can have this money if you can believe Me for it.”
Immediately I resolved in my spirit that $6,600 was nothing to my great God. If He “owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” He can certainly sell a few and provide the money for my children to attend this school! So for seven months I asked God to provide the whole amount. We did not have one extra cent at that time, because my husband had just started our food truck business and we were living “paycheck to paycheck.” In reality it was horrible timing to need such a huge amount of money, but I just felt a conviction that this school was the answer to my prayers and that God was going to provide. I decided that I would not ask my husband to come up with any of it, but trust God to give me the whole amount we would need for that first year.
Every time my faith felt shaky, God would confirm it for me. One day I was crying out to Him in the morning, “I believe—help my unbelief!” Where on earth could this money possibly come from!? Then I sat down to start teaching the girls and opened up to the story of George Muller. I literally cried as I read about a man who saw miracles in his orphanage because he had a steady, quiet faith that never wavered. Muller just expected an answer, and he would get it. It was inspiring to my own faith. Another time as I asked God to provide the whole amount, I felt as if the Holy Spirit said, “If you believe I am going to provide for you, I want you to start thanking me for it.” So I did. Every day I would thank God in advance for the money I believed He was going to provide.
One of these nights God gave me a dream in which I went to the mail box and found a check for the exact amount I’d been praying for. I woke up, fell asleep, and had the same dream. And then it happened again! Three times I dreamed that God was going to provide it through the mail. It was timely, as I was struggling not to start planning for an alternative in case God didn’t “come through” for me. Over and over I felt like God kept quietly encouraging me to keep believing and cling to passages in the Bible talking about “the faith of a mustard seed.”
At last, in a step of sheer faith, I decided to go to the school and pay the registration fee for all three girls, feeling a bit silly as I knew these were non-refundable deposits. But I also knew that I wanted to show God I was proceeding as if they would be attending. I was believing.
Then one day after about seven months of prayer, we got a bill in the mail from the IRS for $14,000. Besides the shock, this was a bit of a slap in the face: we felt that instead of providing, God was allowing a huge bill that we had no way to pay! But since these numbers weren’t making any sense, we decided to take the letter to a tax person to help us decipher it. After talking to the lady and showing her our documents, she discovered what had happened. My husband’s social security number had been stolen and used on someone else’ s tax return two years in a row! There was hope! At the end of this debacle we found that not only did we owe nothing, but we actually had $3,500 coming back to us!
This money, of course, was an awesome blessing, yet at the same time I was disappointed, because it wasn’t the whole amount for which I’d specifically prayed. I had really felt all along that I would not have to piece together various chunks of money in an effort to “come up with” the whole amount, but that we would know that God had provided in a specific, exact way. But of course I was also aware that I couldn’t put God “in a box,” and that I would try to accept that things might not look the way I thought. I knew that praying specifically (“Lord, I need $63 for this bill,”) brings honor to Him as He gives specific answers. In any case, while thankful for the $3,500, I kept asking God to give me all of it, not just part, reminding Him that I was like the woman in the Bible, begging the judge every day and “bothering him.” I would not stop believing or even begging until school had started and my children were in those desks at Darby. If school started and they weren’t there, I would let it go, but until that day I was going to keep pounding on the Judge’s door—so He might as well get it over with now, and provide for us!
A few days later I received an astonishing email from Darby. I sat there with my jaw hanging open, as I read that after they had run their final budget, they found they had the ability to reduce our tuition, especially since I was enrolling three students. So they wondered “what I would think” about charging me full tuition for one child, partial for the other, and nothing for my youngest. Then came the bombshell: what do you think the total would come to for the year? $3,500.
Yes—the exact amount we had unexpectedly received from the IRS. It was shocking and it was exhilarating. To think! God knew all along that I didn’t actually need $6,600! He knew that when that man stole Josh’s identity two years ago, it was an answer to prayer in the making. He knew that that man’s choices would return us an unexpected chunk of money and that Darby would have the ability, even though they were tiny, to reduce our tuition. I called the principal in tears to explain that the school had just played a role in a huge answer to prayer. Isn’t that amazing? Several years before I had even heard of the school, my answer to prayer was in the works! During all those months of prayer, God knew I wouldn’t need $6,600, but that He’d make sure we had the whole amount for the tuition.
I want to encourage everyone who wants to “hold God to his Word” that we serve a great God. I would do that regularly when I prayed. “I didn’t say all these things, God! You said them! You said that ‘whatever we asked in prayer, believing, we would receive,’ and I’m believing! So show me the money!” God doesn’t always answer such prayers, but if the Holy Spirit stirs up a conviction about something that feels impossible, know that it isn’t impossible! We serve the same God that people served in the Bible. His power has not been reduced.
Often we just don’t ask. So ask! Believe! Receive! And of course I’m not talking about asking God for the shiny new car; I’m not talking “name it and claim it.” This is simply responding to an inward stirring that you know is the Holy Spirit. What a blessing I would have missed had I not started banging on that Judge’s door. And I love that my children saw God move on their behalf, as I prayed regularly with them. Now my daughters have clearly seen that God does care about the details of our lives. He cares about the things that we need. So let’s keep praying in faith, knowing that God hears and answers! To Him be the glory!
–Daughter of Pastor Joseph Brown, Christy is a busy mom who homeschools her daughters, helps run her husband’s food truck business, and enjoys teaching women’s Bible studies.