It's quite common for God to do things in ways that you and I really don't expect. It's quite common for God to answer prayers in ways we don't expect. It's quite common for God to transform you through your own mind renewal in ways you didn't expect. So, if our expectations are different than God's ways, answers and thoughts, then how do we know if He truly has answered, spoken and/or moved a mountain?
Here's what I've come to understand about praying for ministry fruitfulness; God creates openings, not happenings. Openings are full of favor and give us confidence and assurance, but the happenings are on us. We are, after all, the workers in His vineyard. What... not what you expected? Imagine you wanting to grow a great garden but had no land on which to plant one. A friend comes to you and says, "Here. Take this acre of land I'm not using and feel free to plan your garden there." What is your next course of action? Would you simply return home and expect vegetables and fruit to appear on that land without doing any tilling, planting, cultivating, watering or harvesting?
If you are looking for God to do a new thing in your church and in your ministry, expect His answers to your prayers to create openings of favor so you can work diligently, but don't expect Him to do your work.
Let's return to the garden analogy for a moment. So, you go to the land offered to you by your friend and you begin to dig, till, cultivate, plant and water. You then wait for Gods creation to do what only it can do. You wonder if the garden will grow at all because the weather conditions have not been ideal to growing. But, when seedlings begin to appear above ground, you discover that your garden is growing faster and more lush than any other you have planted. In the midst of the opportunity, you are presented with favorable results that defy the laws of nature. That's how God does things. His favor, when placed upon your work causes city walls to crumble, armies to turn on themselves and flee, demons to leave, and fruit to appear in barren wastelands.
Knowing when God has created an opening for blessing and favor to multiply your work in ministry is absolutely discernable. How, you ask? Get to work... that's how. If you want to know if a door is locked, go check the door handle! If it's open, walk in and if it's locked you'll know.
Many pray for revival but refuse to do the labor related to revival. If God were to open the heavens over you and your ministry work would you know it? Would you be like the farmer who cancelled all his daily plans to give his whole day to plowing his field because the weather was finally ideal to do so? Or, would you be like the farmer that looked out the window and, though he saw the favorable conditions, went back to bed and slept the day away?
Matthew 20:1 NIV "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.
If you are in a season of God's favor, then get to work!
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.