Anna Tindal-Robinson was in her early 40s when she felt God say that she would be married within the year. At that stage she wasn’t even dating anyone, so the prospect seemed crazy. But in faith, she trusted; not in the hope of a husband, but in the one who had spoken the promise. And within the year, she was walking down the aisle
There was a time when praying in faith didn’t come naturally to me. I believed in Jesus from a young age, absorbing gospel truth through years of attending church while growing up in Zimbabwe. But my prayer life was token and I had a fledgling faith for many years.
If I’m honest, the first time I encountered a vibrant Christian community who prayed in faith about everything, I found it a bit much! I was 17, and visiting relatives in Australia; attending church with them was a real eye-opener to a depth of relationship with God that I’d never considered possible. It was both attractive and a bit overwhelming.
At this time, I was struggling with my health. Looking back now, it was probably chronic fatigue syndrome, but I suffered undiagnosed. I was told by doctors that there was nothing they could do, that I’d have to live with my symptoms. I felt so terrible I wondered whether I would die. It was in this moment that I first turned to God in honest, heartfelt prayer.
I began fasting and praying, believing that I would be healed. And one night I had a strange dream in which I was vomiting profusely; in the morning my symptoms were completely gone. The transformation was extraordinary – it could only be God.
Sustained by prayer
Prayer was no longer a token gesture for me but became essential sustenance; the first and only place to turn, in all situations. I started attending a Spirit-filled church back in Zimbabwe alongside studying at Bible school. Prayer was as important as food. I needed God in every fibre of my being. His Spirit permeated every decision I made.
I knew that God cared about the small details of my life, so I prayed in faith for day-to-day things – like when I didn’t have enough money to catch the bus to church. And I would submit myself to God for the big decisions, allowing him to lead me to the UK for the first time in 2000, serving in church ministry and then following his call to train as a nurse.
Preparing a table for two
During a brief period back in Australia I heard God speak to me about my husband for the first time. “Go back to England”, he said, “you will meet your husband there.”
So I went, in obedience. I was 42 and so ready to meet the man God had set aside for me, following years of longing and waiting. Once settled in London I met up regularly with a friend for prayer and accountability. During one of these times of heartfelt prayer, God spoke again about my husband, saying: “You will be married within the year.”
The message was so clear but I wondered whether I had heard him right. I pondered: “Was this just what I wanted to hear, or the voice of my heavenly Father?” I wasn’t dating anyone at that point in time – to be married within a year seemed an unlikely prospect! But I had witnessed God do the impossible in my life before, and I knew his voice. So I chose to believe in faith.
I hung a tie in my wardrobe. I laid a table for two, every night. I prayed for the man God had promised to me. I believed God’s word to me through days of patient, joy-filled expectation; I believed, too, through days of exhausted despondency.
Laying down my idols
It can be so hard to pray for your heart’s desire; to pray in faith, while also surrendering your longing to God. There were times when I felt low and questioned everything. It was an honest wrestling.
I hadn’t lost faith in God’s promise over my life, but the act of daily surrender wasn’t easy. I wondered: “Was my desire for a husband clouding my desire for God?”
I was hit hard by the reality that wanting a husband had become an idol. My prayer life needed an overhaul, so I committed to getting up at midnight every night to seek the Lord. Every night I knelt there with him, seeking his presence alone. I stopped asked for a husband; I simply wanted more of Jesus.
Two months later, I met James. And by our fourth date I knew he was the man I would marry. I felt so secure within myself when I was with him. It was an astounding feeling, made all the more significant by the fact that I met him at a point in my life when my focus was on Jesus.
I was made whole by Jesus’ love alone. We were engaged six months later and married within the year, just as God had promised.
Continuing to cry out
God is constantly taking me on a journey of giving my desires and longings over to him; a journey that brings me to my knees in trust and dependency.
After James and I married, I became fearful that I would never be able to have a child. I had to have an operation on my womb, which made conceiving hard. We went down the route of IVF. I cannot express how painful the journey was. Though it all, God whispered to us: “Be still and know, I am God, I am with you.”
But in 2020 a hope-filled pregnancy ended in miscarriage and I was broken. I cried out to God. I doubted. I despaired. I was so honest with God, and I knew that he had space for everything that I felt.
The pandemic hampered our opportunities for further IVF. I had to continue to wait and trust. Eventually God opened doors to enable me to travel to Greece for the treatment and I knew straight away that I was pregnant – God confirmed this in my heart.
Early on we discovered I was pregnant with twins, but soon after one baby died, and at 20 weeks we were told there were complications with the other child, a little girl. My heart ached. Could my faith stretch through so much? “Trust me with her”, God said to me. So I did. Again, I prayed in faith.
Our faithful God protected her in the womb and delivered her to our arms ten months ago. We named her Elizabeth, meaning ‘God’s promise’. Our family is a testament to God’s goodness. He has brought me so far, and yet he still asks me to trust him more – to give back to him all he has given me.
Elizabeth still faces health complications and awaits an operation. We see God continuing to pave the way, reassuring us that he is in control and that he is with us.
Where would I be without God? I often wonder how people survive without knowing him. Having faith in him, in his goodness and love in all things, is everything to me. The journey of faith can be hard, but there is no path I’d rather walk.