Every day I pray. I turn my thoughts into conversation to God–mostly in the form of questions; sometimes as requests and sometimes as expressions of thanks. And sometimes I just wait–listening for a response.
“What?’ you say.
“Your kidding, right? Do you really expect God to answer you?”
I chuckle at this because, if you were sitting with me right now, latte (or tea) in hand, chatting , say in a quaint little coffee shop or tea room–I’d laugh out loud and say something like this:
Of course I expect God to hear me! And I expect Him to answer me. BUT not the way you think! I don’t expect an audible voice (that resembles Morgan Freeman’s) to speak aloud to me–though that would be awesome! However, I do expect God to answer my prayers–though in a slightly different way than you probably expect.
I have learned over the years that God desires to have a connection with me–and as a Christian, I desire the same. This connection is primarily expressed through my faith in His son, Jesus Christ, and His word, the Bible. As I read the Bible and learn more about Him and His purposes for my life, I find myself having conversations with God quite frequently. AND I find that He speaks back to me in many different ways. Some of these are:
- through His Words, as recorded in the Bible. He uses select passages to comfort me, encourage me, warn me; to inspire me; to teach me the ways He wants me to go and the the things He wants me to do. (Psalm 119:33-37)
- through the prayers offered by poets long ago in the Psalms . Some of these prayers and conversations are so close to my own heart-cries that it is almost as if I had penned them myself (oh, that I could be such a writer)! The recorded responses cause me to feel like He is talking directly to me–and me alone. (See Psalm 139:1-18 for starters! or Psalm 34:4;18,19) How about this one: “Come my children, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. . .” (Psalm 34:11–16) Don’t you want to sit at His feet too, and listen?
- through the kind and good things others do for me, when I need it most. The Bible teaches that through God’s Holy Spirit, He prompts those who believe in Him to do His good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to do. I have been the recipient of these good works many times–and I am pretty sure you have too. Often those acts of kindness, compassion, gentleness, forgiveness, and love that come from others, come at times when we are close to breaking; maybe even doubting that God hears our prayers at all.
Let me tell you a brief story of a time when God answered prayer in my life.
Our family was going through a tough time of adjustment: My husband had just graduated from Bible school, and had accepted a call to serve as an intern youth pastor in a small church, in an even smaller town, in central California. There were less that 300 people in the church–but they were generous and cared a lot about us–their new interns. Added to the stress of this new adjustment was our low income: (We were as poor as ‘church mice’. Maybe poorer!) We had 2 small children–a 2 1/2 year old daughter and a second daughter, barely three months old. Our housing, provided by the church, was part of our salary package. We drove a very old (and ugly–even back then) 1955 black and white Ford Fairlane–but we didn’t care about that–it was just part of our commitment to serve the Lord–and we viewed it as part of the sacrifice of our calling.
One day shortly after we took this position, our baby got really sick . In the middle of the night (why do babies always seem to get sicker in the middle of the night???) her temperature spiked to 104F. Calling our pediatrician, he told us to get to the hospital–fast–and so we did! That night began a 3 day crisis with our daughter fighting for her life. She was diagnosed with spinal meningitis. That illness put our little girl into the hospital for a whole month.
At first, we were devastated! Fear and uncertainty wracked our minds and emotions. Sleepless nights were haunted by worry–especially for my husband. How would we ever pay the hospital bills racking up day by day? I suffered more from anxiety about the disease itself; my daughter’s ability to fight the infection; the long terms affects on such a small child, and the stress of finding child care for our 2 year old who was not allowed to visit the hospital with us. (Much has changed in the medical world since then!) This was a huge test for us–and our faith in the God we served. We turned to Him in prayer. Pouring out our hearts to Him, we prayed. And prayed. And prayed. So did many others on our behalf.
During that time, my husband and I saw amazing acts of kindness and love for this child, and to us, as a family. Whenever I fall into doubt about God’s love, memories of this time filter back through my brain and I recall many of the prayers I prayed during that time and all the answers we received. I seldom doubt that God hears my prayers these days, for I have learned to ask Him boldly to ‘show me His goodness in the land of the living. . .for He has helped me and comforted me.’ (Psalm 86:17,NIV)
One day long after our daughter was home again, we had an unusual encounter with a woman we’d never met before. At a public event, we were standing in line for something, and we noticed this lady staring at us. Finally, she introduced herself to us. She recognized us because, during our daughter’s crisis, our church people had posted our family photo, and needs, on a 24 hour prayer chain. That prayer request had come to her church prayer bulletin also. She shared with us that her family had prayed for weeks for our daughter’s complete healing. She was so blessed to finally see this child–and God’s answer–to their prayers. Stunned, we humbly thanked her for her faithfulness to pray for our daughter. We parted company with joy and thanksgiving in our hearts! God had heard and had answered many prayers for this child!
Yes–I believe in prayer. Every day I pray. I turn my thoughts often into conversation to God–and He hears and answers.
Do you pray? He will do the same for you!