(As most of you know, Steve will soon be retiring from the pastorate, after serving forty years in Florida. Mid-June we move to the Midwest, to be close to our sons and their families. If our daughter and her family would just move east from Washington State, life would be near-perfect!
No doubt you’re also aware that packing and unpacking are time-consuming tasks, so I’m putting the blog on hold for a few weeks. But please continue to visit! I’ll re-blog some previous posts, and hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.
The following post was first published 11-7-13.)
Before my friend, Elizabeth, said a word, I knew something was wrong. The slump of her shoulders, the wrinkled brow, the tears welling up in her eyes–they spoke loud and clear.
“You know how Michael and I would like to have a little brother or sister for Ashley,” my friend said, dabbing her eyes with Kleenex. “Well, it’s become more than just a desire for me. I so desperately want another child.” Her voice became tight. “The waiting and uncertainty are becoming unbearable.”
We stood together, in the emptying sanctuary after church, arms entwined. And I prayed for Elizabeth and Michael.
Psalm 113:9, a verse which had ministered to me years before, came to mind. I included the promise in my prayer: “God, you’ve promised ‘to settle the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.’ We are claiming that promise today for Michael and Elizabeth. Even now we look forward to the day when they are holding a precious, new baby in their arms.”
Note the verse says children, not child.
The prayer came out of my mouth with certainty and brazen expectation, not in keeping with my cautious personality at all. I have to admit, the thought crossed my mind, What if God intends for Elizabeth and Michael to have just one child? You’ve gone way out on a limb with that prayer!
But I voiced no disclaimers. I let the prayer stand on its foundation of conviction–conviction that didn’t come from my spirit as much as from the Holy Spirit.
For the weeks that followed, I continued to pray that God would bless this couple with another child.
Weeks later, Elizabeth approached me once again. Before she said a word, I knew what she was going to say. Her outspread arms, wide grin, and sparkling eyes spoke loud and clear.
“I’m pregnant!” she cried.
We hugged each other tight and noisily exclaimed our jubilation.
Would I have been as excited had I not been praying for this family? Delighted, yes. But jump-up-and-down ecstatic? Probably not.
My joy was greatly expanded because I had invested myself in the outcome—with the effort of prayer.
Yes, there are many reasons to pray, including these benefits:
Our wills are aligned to God’s will (Psalm 37:4).
Strength of character is developed through the discipline of perseverance (Luke 11:5-8).
We have the opportunity to bring glory to God (John 14:13).
Prayer is a means of fighting against evil (Ephesians 6:10-18, especially verse 18).
But the wonder of prayer, for me, is the privilege God gives us to be part of the process, as he engineers circumstances to accomplish his will.
Every time God moves in situations for which we’ve prayed, he is giving us a precious gift: the gift of participation with him–in a miracle.
Michael and Elizabeth had twin girls!
* * * * * * * * * *
Heavenly Father, thank you for the splendid privilege of participating with you in the healing, protection, provision, and guidance with which you bless others. May I never get tired of bringing my requests to you, knowing that the joyful conclusion will be worth every moment spent in prayer!
(Photo credit: www.saveourschoolsnz.files.wordpress.com; http://www.etsy.com.)