My friend Beth once told me, “Be careful about what you ask for when you pray.” She described how she asked God to fill her heart with love. After her sincere prayer, she faced many challenging situations which required great patience and tolerance. Family members were irritable, associates were unkind, and neighbors were critical. God seemed to give her lots of opportunities to forgive and show compassion, to love in ways she had not anticipated.
A few years ago I went to a mountains retreat with a friend of mine. Leila and I enjoyed a few days of mediation, scripture study, enjoying nature, and prayer. During that vacation, I read the prayer of Jabez for the first time and plead that the Lord would “bless me indeed, and enlarge my borders, and that [his] hand might be with me, and would keep me from evil, and that it might not cause me pain."
Shortly after I returned home, a friend called and asked if I would take all of her speaking assignments. A world-renowned speaker, she was very ill with post-polio syndrome. I knew little about the subject matter of her talks, but she mentored me extensively. Over the past years, I’ve spoken to a number of church, school, and community groups in her behalf. The subject: Protecting Children and Families from Pornography.
Now, when I asked the Lord to enlarge my borders, I pictured something warm and fuzzy like helping refugees (that happened, too), reaching out to the poor (that blessing also came my way,), but not speaking to hundreds of people about a sensitive and difficult topic.
After I began speaking, I received a phone call from a city council member, asking me if I would help her host a delegation of Iraqi leaders who would be visiting our city to learn more about democratic governance. I had met the woman one time. She said she had prayed and felt the Lord wanted me to help with this effort. It was a huge undertaking. I called the governor, speaker of the house, majority leader of the state senate, a dinguished federal court judge, a prominent business leader and speaker, and a number of other distinguished people, asking them to meet with our guests. I was amazed that God could use an ordinary woman to accomplish some difficult things. I learned so much from the experience, and, hopefully, the Iraqi leaders felt the power of American and Christian life as they visited in our homes, toured our city, and met with church and state leaders.
I’ve learned when we ask the Lord to use us, He often asks us to do things that are outside of our comfort zone. He allows us to develop talents that we may not have known we had. Mother Teresa said, “I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.”
My friend, Sandy, prayed with faith after her son started using drugs and rebelling against God. As she prayed, she pictured her son going to Church with her and living a godly life, and eventually her prayers of faith were answered. Several of my half-brothers and –sisters also rebelled from the teaching of their parents. Until my father died, he prayed with faith for his children, and I have seen many of them turn towards God as they experienced severe trials in their declining years.
Immaculée Ilibagiza describes how prayer saved her life during the Rwandan holocaust. In her book, Left to Tell , she writes about how she survived for 91 days with seven other women in a small bathroom that was three feet long and four feet wide. Because Immaculee was inspired to have the homeowner place a bookcase in front of the bathroom door, the violent mob did not find her or her fellow survivors. She describes in detail how she escaped the murderous mobs through her earnest prayers and the power of her faith in God. She also tells about other incidents in which her life was spared. In her second book, Led by Faith, she shows how God directed and used her life to bless others after she forgave the brutal men who murdered her parents and her beloved family members. I would recommend the books to anyone who wants to learn more about the power of prayer, forgiveness, and faith in a Higher Power.
Prayer is powerful. As we pray with faith, God will answer every prayer according to His will, timetable, and tender mercies. Sometimes the answer will be “no,” and sometimes it will be “wait,” but the answer will come. People who unite in prayer are more forceful that anything on earth. Prayer is one of the greatest forces in the universe.
© Carol Brown