By Alice Matagora, Leader Development Initiatives Program Coordinator & Navigators Collegiate, University of California Irvine
I first met Marlyd, a junior transfer student, at a Navigators Welcome Week event at the University of California in Irvine several years ago. I was immediately drawn to her sweet temperament, her warmth, and her deep love for God. How blessed were we that she decided to join the Navigators shortly after!
Marlyd was faithful and teachable, quickly taking in and putting into practice what she had learned from our times together. As our discipleship relationship progressed, our friendship deepened. Not only did we talk about God, we began to share more of our lives with one another. One of the things she shared with me was about her father’s upcoming court hearing.
For seven years, Marlyd’s father attended numerous court hearings regarding his immigration status. Due to an injustice against him many years ago, he was no longer in possession of his green card and risked deportation. She shared that there had not been much forward movement with his case in the past, and that based on that, she did not anticipate that there would be much forward movement after this upcoming court hearing.
As I listened to her share, stories from the Bible flooded my mind of communities of faith gathering together to fast and pray so that God would grant them favor through non-God-fearing officials—Nehemiah and King Artaxerxes, Esther and King Ahasuerus. All seemingly impossible situations that ended with a mighty God revealing His sovereignty.
But I hesitated to bring up the idea of coming before God to ask for seemingly impossible things. Would it be putting God to the test? What if her hopes were dashed in utter disappointment if God didn’t answer those prayers in the way we wanted? And what if, because of that, she loses faith in God?
Yet at the same time I wondered: What if God answered the prayers of many? What if, through this, the faith of many would be strengthened as we corporately humbled ourselves to seek God? What if we partnered with God and witnessed Him do the impossible?
I prayed a quick prayer for God’s favor, and tentatively asked, “Marlyd … what would you think about gathering together a group of your closest friends to commit to fasting and to praying for your dad’s court hearing? We see it all over the Bible, that when God’s people seek Him through fasting and prayer that He does the impossible. What if He could do the impossible with this?”
Marlyd’s eyes filled with tears, and together, we brainstormed a list of people we would ask to join us in fasting and praying for her family. Our community fasted and prayed over the next few weeks, and some of us even made the drive up to the U.S. Immigration Court in Los Angeles in support of her family. And we were blessed to see God do a miraculous work of granting her family favor with the court!! Praise the Lord.
This is the beauty of Life-to-Life® discipleship. God desires to speak into and work in every area of our lives, through His Holy Spirit, through His Word, and through life-giving community with others. Our walk with God goes far beyond the practices of discipleship—learning to read the Bible, pray, and memorize verses. Our spiritual lives are not separate from the rest of our lives; our whole lives are a spiritual act of worship and dependence on God. And He desires for our discipleship to include the whole of life as well.
Since that experience of seeing God work through prayer and fasting, Marlyd and I have shared struggles and hardships with one another, inviting one another to pray and speak truth to each other, worshipping together at the end of each discipleship meeting. As I’ve walked with her through her family’s hearings and the faith-stretching journey of figuring out life after graduation, she has walked with me through the valleys of infertility, praying over medications and procedures, even creating a worship playlist for me to worship Jesus during one of my procedures.
Together, we have witnessed God answer impossible prayer after impossible prayer. Marlyd’s father now has his green card, and my husband and I have a one-year-old son! We are all the more convinced that God hears our prayers and cares for every single part of our lives!
What impossible prayers have you held back from praying? What is holding you back? Though He may not always answer our prayers in the way we want Him to, as we pray for the impossible with faith, our faith is stretched, our perspectives broadened, and our experience of His goodness deepened as He reveals His best for our lives.
Praise God for the way He works and builds the faith of students who boldly follow Him. Pray that Navigators Collegiate will continue to grow disciplemakers who wholeheartedly follow Jesus and invite others to do the same.