As we rode along the old highway from Birmingham, Ala., bound for Florida that early summer day, there was sunshine, the sweet smell of grass, and beautiful wildflowers. I loved this kind of drive. Everyone traveling that road was having this special experience that only God could give.
We were on our way to visit my granddad's cousins, who had moved from their farm outside Eufaula to a community near Pensacola. We arrived in plenty of time to meet some of the neighbors and to walk to a nearby pond. There was a lot of talk, and there were smiles all around.
But the cousins were unhappy because they'd not yet been able to find a church home, and it looked as if they would have to give up their singing. They loved to sing, and for years they had sung at different church-related functions. They had been visiting different churches and had been praying about where the Lord wanted them to be. But they hadn't found a place that welcomed their singing.
Whenever they would meet someone, they would mention that they were singers. Just talking about it made their faces shine with joy. But it looked as if they would have to accept the loss of something they loved so much. Excuses were given as to why they should accept the loss. It was disturbing to me that they seemed powerless to change the situation.
Then, Granddad said this grace before dinner: "O Lord, give them of their heart's desire for a church home." He talked about what a church home meant to them. As the adults around the table chimed in, "Amen, amen," he continued praying, "O Lord, the Giver of all things, give them a place to sing Your praises. Let them lift up their singing to the windows of each listener's heart, O Lord, the Giver of all hearts' desires."
The desire for small things such as a place to sing or time to sit and enjoy the quiet can be lifted up in prayer. Many places in the Bible urge us to ask God for what we need. Solomon asked God for a small thing by the world's standards - an understanding heart. God was greatly pleased with Solomon's request, so pleased that He gave Solomon what he asked for and more. Solomon was given riches, wealth, honor, and long life.
Isaiah recorded the voice of God that Ahaz heard: "Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above" (7:11). The New Testament adds, "Ask, and it shall be given you" (Luke 11:9).
The Scriptures tell us that we can ask, without fear, for anything that is good. This asking itself can illustrate our acceptance of God's love.
Jesus stated that it is our Father's good pleasure to give each one of us the goodness of the kingdom of God. Each of us is entitled to everything in this kingdom. In reality, there can be no loss, no wishful thinking, no living with unhappiness in this kingdom.
A desire is an earnest seeking and a specific longing. Instead of hesitating to ask things of God, we should feel free to ask continually for whatever is our heart's desire.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science, made a close connection between desire and prayer. On page one of the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote, "Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds."
Looking back, I see that my granddad did indeed trust God with his cousins' desire to sing. His prayer helped them to trust, too.
After dinner, my granddad encouraged the families to sing, and we went out to the side porch to listen. Their singing was wonderful. Several of their neighbors came over to hear them. And one of those neighbors had a minister visiting them. After the singing ended, the minister asked my granddad's cousins to sing at his church. That church became their church home, and they sang in that community and traveled in the South for years.
One of the lessons I gleaned from my family's experience is that we can ask God to fulfill small desires. Often these small desires bring big blessings and lasting joy.