Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Answered Prayer - Shepherd

Like many people, I do not remember when prayer was not an integral part of my life. According to my parents, they prayed for me even before I was born.

As good Christians, they taught me a prayer for children that I repeated aloud kneeling by my bed at night before going to sleep. As I grew, we learned to pray out loud around the table as a family, as we knelt beside our chairs each one taking a turn. It was good training for a life of serving the Lord.

At the age of seven, I discovered a new dimension of prayer, when I went to church with my parents one Sunday evening. Some of the faithful gathered for a prayer meeting every Sunday evening prior to the service. That evening, I opened my eyes while my mother was praying. I was surprised to see tears rolling down over her face. She was so moved with compassion for someone who had not yet made a commitment to Christ. This scene spoke to me more powerfully than any sermon about the importance of the message of God’s salvation that she preached about.

Soon after that, I made that commitment myself. Over the ensuing years, within the church, I learned why we pray, how to pray and many other principles about prayer. I learned that God answers prayer, even if it is not always the way we expect Him to answer.

Two of the many examples of answered prayer in my life particularly served to strengthen my faith. The first response came the day that my husband, Glen was hospitalized because of his diabetes. He was extremely ill. I know now that if he had not gone into hospital that day, he would not be here with us today. It was a difficult time for us. We had recently become parents and now we knew that Glen had an incurable disease. We had no idea how this would impact our lives. In church, that Sunday morning, I asked God, “Why Glen? You know that He loves You. He wants to serve You to the best of his ability. Why him?”

In the silence, I received my answer. God did not tell me why; but He enfolded me in His love and whispered in my heart, “My child, I know that you cannot understand, but I assure you I know what I have allowed to happen to you. Don’t be afraid. I am here. I will always be with you.”

Then, I felt such a sense of His peace that I no longer needed to ask why or complain of the injustice of our situation. Later, I learned that the Lord used these circumstances to teach my husband important lessons about prayer.

The second answer to prayer concerned our calling to ministry. For ten years, the question of our calling to serve God in The Salvation Army remained an unresolved question. A crisis moment came when we could no longer ignore the issue. One spring evening, Glen and I decided to pray specifically about this. In prayer, we asked the Lord to show us clearly in the Scriptures, His will for us. We knew it could mean a decision that would change everything about our lives.

The next morning, when Glen got up he picked up his Bible and began to read where he had left off the day before. He stopped and recognized God’s answer as he read from I Corinthians 9:16 “Yet, when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” We were certain that God had answered our prayer and since then we have found and still find great joy in preaching the gospel, in the ministry that He has given to us.

I know the faithfulness of God in answering prayer. A song we sang in France summarizes what I believe with absolute confidence. It translates as:

“God answers our prayers. I'm sure of it – I know it.

I have daily proof of God’s help in my life.”

I cannot prove to anyone that God answers my prayers but the evidence satisfies me enough to give me confidence to turn to Him when I need wisdom.

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