Prayer and Fasting for Wisdom and God's Guidance
One of the great challenges facing students today is getting through their univeristy studies without incurring debilitating debt. Is it possible? Many don't think so, and incur huge amounts of debt that they later discover is very hard to discharge. I have too many friends who have school loans of as much as $100,000 and they face a daily struggle in paying those loans off. Even worse, some want to serve God in foreign countries as missionaries but are unable to do so as a result of that debt. But such debt isn't necessary and Stephanie's wonderful testimony stands as a shining beacon to what God can do when His children pray, seek to know His will through days of fasting and waiting on God, and patiently wait for Him to open the way. She has also done more than pray, she has been working and making money as she was able—often selling books door to door, a great method sanctioned and blessed by God—and seen sweet success in every way. Please don't be discouraged if you already find yourself mired in debt. Just know that the same God who can keep you FROM debt, can also lead you OUT of debt! Dan
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A Real Educational Experience
I had had a desire to further my education in the line of business. So, I began praying for God’s guidance on that specific desire. My brother, Chuck, knew of my interest and was praying with and for me also. The desire continued to grow stronger & stronger. One Friday afternoon when my brother was home for the weekend, we went for a walk around our neighborhood and talked a lot. This longing of mine came up in our conversation. Chuck asked me, “So what have you done about it? Have you checked into any options?” I said I’d checked one but knew that Sabbath would be an issue and at the same time I wouldn’t be able to help a family member out which was also on my mind to do. Andrews University was where I could do both things: help my family member and further my education. Chuck said, “Have you checked into Andrews?” My reply was no. He encouraged me to think and pray about doing so.
Sabbath morning, the elder at church spoke. He was talking about how God desires to give good gifts to His children even more than our earthly fathers desire to give us good gifts. Brother Moyer asked, “Why don’t we ask?” This question kept running through my mind the duration of the sermon. The answer that I came up with was that I don’t ask because I’m afraid God won’t give me what I want. Then the thought came to me. Well, if He doesn’t give me what I want then it’s not His will and if it is not His will, do I really want it? No, of course not! So, I set out a “fleece” right there in church between God and I only. “Lord, if You want me at Andrews, my tuition will be paid in full for a year.” My reason behind that was that I didn’t want to go into debt. I believe that at this time in history, if at all possible, I shouldn’t owe money to anyone especially the government!
The following Monday, I called Andrews to get some information and see what kind of scholarships I could get. Many miracles took place between that time and a few days before I made the decision.
I knew that I would need to give a four-week notice at work and time was coming down to the wire. With a little over five weeks until school started, I began to pray more earnestly and called three close relatives to hold me up in prayer as I made this decision. On July 18, 2002 I spoke with my financial advisor at Andrews to see if there were any more scholarships that I might be eligible for. She responded with a definite “no.” As I hung up the phone I started to talk with God. “What do you want me to do? I’ve tried everything I can think of. I wish You would just say no to this idea then I’d be settled. I would accept a no. All right, this is all up to You. You know my fleece and my desire. Tomorrow I am going to fast and pray and the rest is up to you.”
That evening I received a phone call from my friends, Staci & Autumn. They had been doing some checking into housing for me. The options they shared just weren’t in my budget. But it was all up to God now to work miracles. It was Thursday and the following Monday would be the last day to hand in my resignation.
The next day I fasted and prayed. That morning at work my financial advisor called me. “There is one thing I didn’t think about. For those who are going for their second Bachelor’s degree (which I was), the school pays 33% of their tuition. You just have to pass it through your department.” My heart wanted to jump out of me and I couldn’t think straight! I knew that that was just about the amount that I needed to fulfill my fleece. So my advisor transferred me to the Accounting Dept. The first lady I spoke with hadn’t heard of it before, so she had another lady call me back. When the second lady called me back she was very helpful and told me what I needed to do and sent me the form to submit for the 33% discount. When lunch break came I couldn’t wait to figure out how much money I needed for my fleece. After many calculations, I realized that I only needed $605. Mercy!!! “God’s doing something wonderful,” I thought. I knew that He was going to do a miracle that weekend, so that afternoon I printed out my resignation. ☺
Sunday, my brother called me and I shared with him how the Lord was working. (he didn’t know my fleece, only God did). He began to share with me that about a week or more before that time, the sum of approximately $1000 had been set aside for my needs. When I heard him say that I was speechless and ready to cry just seeing how God works miracles. I then told him my fleece and that God had fulfilled it that moment in my eyes. We both prayed and thanked the Lord for His faithfulness and goodness. After I was off the phone with Chuck, I called everyone who I had specifically asked to pray for me to let them know that their prayers had been answered.
Monday morning, July 22, I handed in my resignation to Uchee Pines Institute. That evening I received the form for the 33% discount in the mail. Upon reading the fine bold print I realized I wasn’t eligible since I was transferring from a non-accredited school. My heart sank and as I sat down beside my bed, I looked up at God and said, “Lord, what are You doing? What am I supposed to do now?”
Tuesday morning I called and spoke with the lady who sent me the form. She said she had shared with me that it only applied to transfers from an accredited college, but somehow I hadn’t heard her.
Tuesday evening after I came home from doing the devotional at the Life Style Center, my friends in Michigan (Staci & Autumn) called me to tell me what they had found in housing. At this point I must tell you to sit down because this is a miracle!
The Thursday before, Staci and Autumn had prayed that they would be able to find a room for me in their neighborhood. They made a list of all the friends they knew in that neighborhood and decided to contact them the next Sunday, July 21, in search for a room. Friday morning, Staci took a walk around their neighborhood and prayed, “Lord, which house has the room for Stephanie?” The next day was Sabbath. When Staci arrived at SS, they were taking prayer requests. Upon entry, Staci was asked what her prayer request was. She said that she was praying that the Lord would help her and her sister find a room for a friend coming to Andrews in the Fall. A lady across the isle from her, whom she wasn’t well acquainted with looked at her and told her to see her after class. After class, Staci inquired about the lady’s request. Mrs. Spalding relayed to Staci that she had been contemplating renting a room out in her house but was hesitant to let just anyone stay there. She mentioned that when Staci had made the request, it was as if the Lord was saying to her, “Why not now?” She felt comfortable with what she knew of Staci & Autumn and believed that she would feel comfortable with their friend if that friend was anything like them.
Staci took down Mrs. Spalding’s address to go to her house the next day. Guess where Mrs. Spalding lived? The same neighborhood where Staci & Autumn lived. In fact, Staci had walked past her house that previous Friday morning when she was praying. Is that awesome or what?
Wednesday morning, I spoke with the Dean of the School of Business. She relayed to me that the 33% discount was no longer available to anyone. It had been done away with the prior year. So, financially speaking, I didn’t have all of the funds needed, but knew that God must have another plan for He never leads us wrong.
Last week at work before leaving for Andrews:
Tuesday evening found me at my friend, Cuz’ Linda’s house swimming laps and telling her the miracles that had happened to direct me to Andrews University. As we spoke, Cuz’ Linda asked me if I had a computer. I said no, but that I planned to use the University computer room. Meanwhile a mutual friend of ours stopped over. We chatted for a while and then I went to leave for home. Just as I was getting into my car, Cuz’ Linda called me back to where she and Dianne were. Dianne asked me if I needed a computer as she had been given a newer version and wanted to give her older one away. So we went to her house to check the computer out to see if it would be something I could use. While the computer was booting up, it popped and shut down. Dianne decided to have Bro. Stearman check it out. Thursday of that week when she came into Country Life where I worked, she explained to me that the computer needed a part, which would take five days to arrive. Dianne then offered me the newer computer and printer which had been given to her. Praise the Lord!! A computer – can you believe it!?
Early Wednesday afternoon I received a phone call from the Enrollment Office at Andrews. The gentleman explained to me that I might not receive the $4000 scholarship previously offered me, but he would take it to a meeting and present my case and then get back in touch with me. That basically meant that they weren’t going to give me ANY money! Wednesday ended and Thursday came and no word came until around 5pm in the afternoon. The gentleman called and said that they had discussed my situation and decided to give me a $4000 scholarship, $400 “Pell” grant, and $5615 award. All this was free money that would be awarded every year. I was shaking like a leaf and thrilled to see and hear of this miracle!
In addition to these miracles, the Lord blessed me with enough cash money from customers at Country Life to pay for almost all of my book expenses for that semester. PTL!!! Even the things we don’t think of He takes care of.
After arriving at Andrews University, the Lord continued to perform miracles. Though the first year’s tuition was paid in full, the years thereafter were not. It was amazing to see God’s providence throughout that time. One year when car insurance came due, I had just been on Spring Break and made enough from colporteuring (after tithe & offering) to pay for my insurance. It seemed that God was always coming through. All my needs were supplied and I lacked nothing.
The summer before graduation was one I shall never forget as I now look back on it and see how God worked so clearly. Before that summer started I’d been asked to be a colporteur leader in both MI and FL. As I weighed out these possibilities, I sensed again the need to take a day out to fast and pray for guidance. In the past and even now, when I have a major decision to make, I take out that special time to seek God’s wisdom. Why fast? Because I believe that my mind is clearer when my body isn’t putting all of its energies into digestion. It’s more likely that I will be able to discern God’s will for my life. At the end of that day of seeking God’s leading for my summer, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t to lead in either place. This was confusing to me since the summer was so close to beginning and I needed to work somewhere to make money for the following school year. In human eyes, to turn both offers down, just didn’t make any sense. But, what was I supposed to do? I had no peace accepting either alternative. So, I kneeled down beside my bed and prayed once more, “Lord, I believe you are leading me to turn down both offers. It doesn’t make sense. I am going to call both places and give them my decision. If I have misinterpreted Your voice, please prevent me from getting through. Amen.” I promptly picked up the phone and called both places with my answer, no. After the last phone call was made, I had such peace. It was a peace which I couldn’t describe. Here I was, no job lined up for the summer and summer vacation was only a little over two weeks away. About a week later, I went into my Accounting Advisor’s office to set up my class schedule for the next semester. Upon looking at the classes that I needed to take to graduate, Dr. Williams looked at me and said, “You really should do an internship this summer. I wish you could go to FL Hospital.” It was then that I realized the reason I’d turned down those job offers. I relayed to him my experience with the summer jobs and how I didn’t have peace to accept them so I turned both of them down. He was amazed and so was I. At that point, I began looking into doing an internship with Conferences and Academies, but nothing was panning out. So I kept praying. School left out for the summer and I packed up all of my belongings and drove South to visit some family in TN while I waited for the Lord to work. During my time in TN, my prayer partner, Linda, asked me if I had checked on the internet for an internship with Adventist Healthcare Systems. I said no, and that where I was staying did not have internet access. So, Linda got onto the web and retrieved 30 phone numbers for me to call. That following afternoon I spent 4 hours calling each phone number but to no avail. I either was transferred to an answering machine or was going to be called back. Linda called me back the next day to see what progress was made. When I shared with her my experience, she again when onto the Internet and managed to find another 30 or so phone numbers. This time, about half way through this list I spoke with a person in Human Resources who directed me to a lady who organized summer internships. A long story short, within a week I had a phone interview and 1 ½ weeks later I was at FL Hospital starting my internship! Praise God!!! By the end of the first day, I was convinced that my being there for the summer was God’s will for me. At the end of the summer I reviewed what I’d prayed for my summer to be like and found that God had fulfilled all that and more! When God works, He does so with completeness!
My senior year at Andrews was coming to a close and I needed to make a decision as to where God wanted me permanently to work. FL Hospital had offered me a job and needed to know my decision by the end of February. Again, God and I set a “date” and met at the park to weigh out the options and seek for His wisdom. To my dismay, He was not leading me back to FL Hospital at that time. It was clear that my work would not only be in Accounting but also working with Academy age young people. Though I had really enjoyed my experience there, I knew that if God didn’t want me there, He must have a better plan.
Graduation came and went and still no peace was given to accept the offers I’d been given. “What was God doing?” I wondered. When I turned the last offer down, it was clear that God wanted me to be a colporteur leader for the summer. But where? Michigan and the Southern Union had given me offers . So I prayed—what else could I do? Where could God use me best? The answer came two days later and in less than a week, I found myself in Atlanta, GA. What a summer it was!! The Lord blessed in so many ways and I learned sooooo…much! Toward the end of the summer, my prayers became more intense again as I sought God’s will for my future. By the end of the summer, there was still no word as to where God wanted me to be. So, after the end-summer retreat I drove to Alabama for a short visit. As I was getting off the exit to Seale, AL the brake lines in my car gave out. It was by God’s mercy that I arrived at my destination safely. A friend of mine who knows a lot about vehicles worked on my car for 5 or more hours only to realize that it would cost more to fix the car than the car was worth. After finding that out, I decided to transfer the title of my car to my friends and drive a rental vehicle home. Two days later, I transferred the title, and rented a car headed for PA. Approximately 7 hours into the 16 hour trip, I had an accident that totaled the rental car. The whole experience was amazing! So many things could have gone wrong but didn’t. I managed to walk out of the vehicle without a scratch, bruise or broken bone….only a bad whip lash and closed head injury. My parents drove to the hospital to pick me up and take me home. Praise God for life! The following few weeks were rough and I continued to pray for God’s wisdom. It had been my original plan to study and sit for the CPA exam in October, but events had changed things and plans had to be set aside until God’s perfect timing was revealed. The blessings that came as a result of the accident are numerous. Interestingly, had I still had the title to my car when I had the accident, NONE of my medical bills from the accident would have been covered. Additionally, I had taken out every possible insurance on that rental car that could be taken. This was very unusual for me since I tend to try to save money and avoid “unnecessary” expenses. Praise God for His foresight!!! ☺
As I write this experience I am still at home in PA. I’ve been blessed to have had a temporary full time job which just ended last Friday. There is no question that God led me there. His providence never makes a mistake! I’ve been reviewing my time here at home and am convinced that God lets events/circumstances happen to strengthen and refine us. For me, these past five plus months have not been easy. I am a person who lays out plans ahead of time and then has a backup plan in case the first plan doesn’t work. In addition, I tend to be very independent. Sometimes, I think the Lord has a really good sense of humor. He knows how to get us to depend on Him. If there were things that I could attribute to bringing me through uncertain times, it would have to be the daily time spent with God, Christian friends who encouraged & prayed for me, and the Word of God. Many times when I was about to become discouraged, the Word of God (what I read in my devotion) encouraged me and reminded me that God was in control and was faithful.
Once again, as I’m facing another fork in the road, I am reminded that God’s hand is directing. This morning’s inspiration found in Hebrews 13:5 says: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” What an assurance!!
The following Quotes from SOP and Volume 7a of the Bible Commentary have given me additional encouragement to keep my eyes on God and trust His leading:
“Faith takes God at His word, not asking to understand the meaning of the trying experiences that come.” GW 261
“If we surrender our lives to His service, we can never be placed in a position for which God has not made provision.” GW 263
“…There is no such thing as blind faith. Genuine faith always rests upon the firm underlying ‘sustance’ of sufficient evidence to warrant confidence in what is not yet seen.” 7a BC 471
“By faith the Christian considers himself already in possession of what has been promised him. His utter confidence in the one who has mad the promises leaves no uncertainty as to their fulfillment in due time.” 7a BC 471
“Faith is not abstract belief that evidence exists, but a settled assurance based on confidence that God will fulfill His promises…” 7a BC 471
“…But Abraham needed to go through this trying experience in order that his faith might reach maturity. It was the crowning experience of his life.” 7a BC 475 (Hebrews 11:17)
Additional Sources of Wisdom and God's Guidance
Matt. 7:11; John 14:1-3; 17:24; 15:16; 16:21, 22; Isa 49:23; 43:1,2; Matt. 10:16; Deut. 8:2
Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings p. 85, 86, 99, 100-101
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