After you have asked God for something, take action. Act on your faith. Put God on the spot by showing Him that you believe so strongly that He is going to answer that you are going ahead as if He had already answered.
When I was the pastor of a church in Wagoner, Oklahoma, there was a girl named Etta, who wanted very much to go to college to prepare for Christian service. For two years she prayed for money to pay her tuition, and during the second year she got deeply in debt. The situation looked impossible.
She came to me in tears and much discouraged. I asked her if she knew that it was God’s will for her to go, and she answered that she was absolutely sure it was.
“Then I would certainly not wait any longer,” I said. “You’ve been asking the Lord for the money for two years, but you have never shown by your actions that you really expect Him to send it. If you really believed He was going to answer your prayer and give you the funds you need, what would you do?”
“I’d get my clothes ready, write the school that I was coming, and make all the other arrangements,” Etta answered.
“Then that is exactly what I would do if I were you. Stand on His promise and make the necessary arrangements, just as you would if you had the money in your hand. Real faith would proceed as if it had already happened. If someone were to promise you the money, you would believe them, but God Himself has already promised in His Word, in Psalm 37:4, to give you the desire of your heart, yet you don’t believe Him.”
“But Mrs. Berg,” the dear girl answered, “I do believe Him! I’ll prove it! I’m going home to pack my clothes and get ready. School opens in a very short time, and I’ll have to hurry.”
Etta never wavered from that moment on. She went straight ahead with her preparations, just as if she already had the funds. She was positive that the Bank of Heaven would open its windows at just the right time.
The day before she was supposed to leave, she phoned me to say that her clothing and other belongings were all ready to pack, but she had no suitcase. Over the phone we claimed the Scripture promise, “God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). Then I went about my work and forgot the incident.
About an hour later a friend phoned. She was cleaning house, she said, and found a number of things she didn’t need any longer and wanted to get rid of, including a large suitcase. She wondered if I could use it.
“You’re filling an order from Heaven,” I said with a laugh, “only you have the wrong address. The Lord wants the suitcase sent to Etta’s home.”
The next night a number of us went to the train station to see Etta off to college. “Mrs. Berg,” she whispered, “the money hasn’t come yet, but I am not the least bit frightened. I absolutely know the Lord has heard my prayer and I know that I have what I asked Him for” (1 John 5:14-15).
I thought there must have been a mistake somewhere. Some friends had told me they had taken a collection amongst themselves to help Etta, but…
Just then I heard the train whistle in the distance and saw the glow of the headlight. Etta searched my face for a clue. What could I say?
Suddenly one of the people who had taken the collection came running up to us. “I was doing some work at the office, when I remembered the money the others had given me to give to Etta,” he said. “And here is some more–a gift from my wife and me.”
“And here is more,” said another friend who had also just come to see Etta off.
“All aboard!” called the conductor. “All aboard!”
“All aboard God’s promises!” I said to Etta. “It pays to believe, doesn’t it?”
“It’s wonderful,” she answered, “simply wonderful, what faith can do!”
You are coming to a King,
Large petitions with you bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much!
–John Newton (1725-1807)