Praying Specific Prayers

As Joe and the Stevens family set off from Crawley for their new life in Paris last week, I had to chuckle to myself. I took over from Joe in the Communications role for New Ground just before the pandemic hit last year and whoever takes over from me in the future may want to think twice, given the pattern that’s emerging. So, here’s another story of God calling a family to a far-off land, although in theory the Roberts family shouldn’t need any foreign language lessons before we set off from Oxted in Surrey. 

My husband Paul and I ask God every couple of years whether Oxted is still the place for us and as recently as 2019 we felt that it was, but in 2020 we began to feel restless, we just weren’t sure anymore. Where did God want us? Paul declared that he wanted to live in a city. As a city with a New Ground church (allowing me to continue my job) and more affordable housing than the South East, Liverpool came to mind as an option. God just put Liverpool into our heads one day and then we couldn’t stop thinking about it.

We prayed about it for months and we didn’t feel like God had given us any other options to consider or pray over. Liverpool felt like the place, but we couldn’t actually go there to visit and get a feel for the city, because we weren’t allowed to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic! We made plans to go up in October 2020, but the restrictions still didn’t allow us to visit. We made contact with the leadership team at Freedom Church Liverpool and started chatting with them about our plans. The brakes were on, but that gave us plenty of time to listen to God and prepare ourselves for such a big change.

On 2 March 2021 Paul and I joined a Life Group leaders’ meeting on Zoom. By this point I was so distracted by the idea of moving that I was finding it very difficult to pray about anything else. We were supposed to be praying for our Life Groups, but I had serious questions for God and I needed answers. I prayed for a prophetic word to confirm our call to Liverpool. Only one person brought a prophetic word during that meeting. It was a picture of our church Life Groups being like geysers bubbling away, where the action happens in church life. Pools of water representing the life of the church. Pools of life. As my friend Jen talked us through what God was saying to her, my ears pricked up at the words ‘pools’ and ‘life’. Life pools. Liverpool? I believe I got the confirmation I asked for.

Around Easter time we started to think about putting our house in Oxted on the market. We made it presentable and got valuations, but I was dreading having to keep it clean and tidy for viewings, with three children working against me. Within one week at the beginning of April three people posted messages on the Oxted Facebook page asking if anyone was thinking of selling. A few messages back and forth led to one couple viewing our house over Zoom and then making us an offer! God had heard my prayers and we agreed a sale without anyone visiting in person to view the house at all.

We were finally able to visit Liverpool in the half-term holiday in May this year. The sun shone, we spent time on the beach and we joined the Freedom Church Liverpool guys for a picnic. More importantly, while we were there God spoke clearly to us about the move, confirming His call.

The next step was to find a suitable home in Liverpool. I had been watching Phil Moore’s daily YouTube videos and he’d been talking about praying specific prayers, so we decided to be even more intentional about doing that. Paul was on the church rota for several Sundays in June and July and there were lots of family birthdays coming up, so we felt like we had very few weekends available to travel to Liverpool to look at houses. Paul identified a free weekend (19/20 June) and prayed specifically that God would give us a house that weekend, so that house-hunting wouldn’t interfere with other things.

On Monday 14 June a new property came up on Rightmove and with much excitement, before I had even looked at all the photos and the floorplan, I immediately shouted to Paul that I’d found our house. Something just moved in my spirit when I saw that first photo and I knew it was supposed to be ours. Viewing booked for 19 June!

The house is in Old Swan, an area of Liverpool we hadn’t previously considered, because everyone had been telling us we’d want to live in the south of the city, which is a bit more green and suburban. Old Swan is just into the north of the city, just north of where Freedom Church currently meet. It has a bustling high street and a small retail park, good bus links and it’s close to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

As the week went on, we began to wonder if the house was right. I was still going back to Rightmove to look at other houses that were already sold or over budget, but God told me He was going to give us a house better than we were expecting but at a price that we could afford. On the Saturday our expectations were fairly low, but as soon as we walked in the front door we knew it was the one. It was bigger and better than we were expecting, at a price we could afford. The bustling, urban high street in Old Swan felt so right, even though we knew it would take time for us to adjust to it. We slept on it and then made an offer on the Monday morning.

On the Tuesday morning the estate agent called. The seller was pleased with our offer, but had already booked in another viewing on the Wednesday morning and she felt awkward about accepting our offer and cancelling it. They said they would get back to me on Thursday! Making an offer on a property can be such a big thing, emotionally as well as financially. The idea of waiting two more days was excruciating! I think my prayer went something like this:
“Father, I believe you’ve set that house aside for us and you will cause the seller to accept our offer. I don’t want to wait until Thursday! I pray that the seller would cancel tomorrow’s viewing so that she can accept our offer, or that for some reason the other party would cancel their appointment. I pray that they would get back to me today.”

That afternoon I took our son to his friend’s house to play. I relayed the story to his mum and she was astounded when I received a call from the estate agent an hour later to say that our offer had been accepted. What a witness to the power of God to answer specific prayers! The seller had decided to tell the other party they could view the house that afternoon or not at all, so they’d cancelled the viewing. God had set that house aside for us.

When I told the guys at Freedom Church that we’re moving to Old Swan they were excited. They’ve been sensing God’s call to reach other parts of the city and looking at buildings in Old Swan for their social action projects, as they already have some involvement at Alder Hey Hospital just up the road. God is up to something and we can’t wait to find out how we can play our part. And we might even be getting used to the Scouse accents – no lessons required.