I’ve thought often during my life how powerful prayer is. I’m reading the book “90 Minutes in Heaven” right now which obviously demonstrates the extreme power of prayer. But prayer without faith doesn’t work very well. Here’s the kicker though…how do you get that faith? I’ll share with you how mine started. I haven’t shared this with many people during my life, only those I’m very close to or when I felt that sharing it would help someone in their spiritual journey. It’s a fairly personal and intimate happening and for a long time I was embarrassed to talk about it, but as I’ve gotten older and wiser (and less modest!), I’ve shared it more.
When I was about 8 years old, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I distinctly remember being led to answer the alter call at church. I had felt this way for several Sundays in a row, but was scared to walk to the front of the church with everyone looking. Finally, I was so compelled to go that I did and it was very emotional for me. It wasn’t until a few years later that I truly started understanding the power of prayer and utilizing it.
I believe it was the summer after 8th grade. Our church youth group had a mission trip to North Dakota planned. There were about 10 or so teenagers and 3 adults on the trip. I had started my period earlier than most girls, the end of my 5th grade year. And from the very beginning, I had problems. I had pain, heavy periods, irregular periods, you name it. My mother never taught me about tampons so I just used pads…ugh. Because my period was so irregular, I never really knew when it would happen. I would count 3 weeks and know that it would be after that and be prepared. So, based on this assumption, my period was likely to hit right in the middle of our mission trip. I could NOT imagine anything worse than that happening. In fact, I was so afraid of it happening that I almost backed out of the trip. Instead, I decided to pray. I knew that it was selfish to pray for myself for something so specific and, in the grand scheme of things, that really didn’t matter. But I also knew that I would be away from home, without my parents, and I wanted to be the best witness to the people we were going to be with that I could. So, I prayed. I laid down a fleece and told the Lord exactly what I wanted. I wanted to have my period BEFORE the trip so that I would know for sure that I wouldn’t have to worry about it. I prayed every day and every night for several weeks. I’m sure you know the rest of the story…my period came exactly one week before the trip and was done about two days before we left! No way would I need to worry about it on the trip!
Now, mind you, I was thrilled about this. So thrilled that I wanted to tell everyone about it! I was SO excited that God had answered my prayer, little old me and my selfish prayer! I realized that if He answered that prayer, then how much more might he answer prayers of true worth! But, as I said, I was embarrassed because of the prayer being about my period so I kept it to myself, except for my Mom and my aunts who I was very close to. They encouraged me and were very happy for me for the growth in my spiritual life.
Over the years, more prayers were answered. Some were answered specifically, some with a “yes,” and some with a resounding “no.” God doesn’t always give us what we want, but he does answer our prayers, just sometimes not the way we want! I realize that God uses us all in many different ways to help and strengthen each other and to help teach others lessons. Never was this more clear to me than in 2002 when my brother was in a terrible accident and almost lost his life. If you know me, you know this story. While it happened to my brother, it happened to me too. It is one of the most defining moments in my life. It was a horrible accident, and for many weeks we did not know what the outcome would be. The outcome was what it was because of prayer. Many, many people prayed for my brother and his recovery. They not only prayed for his recovery, but they prayed for strength for our family for whatever happened, and they prayed for the doctors and nurses who attended to my brother every minute of the day. All of our prayers were answered in the most spectacular way possible and we all know, especially Alan, that our outcome was not a typical outcome for someone with injuries as severe as his. We know, without a doubt, that God has a plan for Alan’s life and that this was a huge lesson not only for him, but for many of the people who prayed for him and knew him at that time. While we may never know specifically why this happened, we know it was for a reason, God’s reason.
Prayer is powerful, and prayer should be used wisely. God teaches us in the way that is best for us to learn. He started small with me, but my faith in God and the power of prayer grow each day. Over the past several years, I have asked others to pray for me during times of physical need. I am assured that God will always answer my prayers in the best way for me and everyone else. I’m prepared to be a lesson for others if need be. I think that may have already happened considering all I have been through personally in the past few years. Either that or God is still trying to teach me something or show me something that I’m just not grasping yet. Now my prayer is for strength to handle these continuing problems with grace and courage until I figure out what my lesson is or someone else gets the lesson they need to learn.
I fully believe that God will never give me more than I can handle, but if I feel like I can’t handle it, He’ll help me. That’s why He’s there and that’s why He went to the cross for us. It is up to us to use prayer and His strength wisely and as intended, daily in our lives, with full faith that He is always, always there when we need Him.
Say a prayer. Say it for yourself, say it for someone else, but have faith it will be answered and that faith will grow! I promise!