Prayer Answers #5

Here’s another one that got emailed to me. I have some comments at the end about what I like about this one.

About ten years ago, while still living at home shortly after graduating from my undergraduate studies. My mother, a very nominal Jew, subscribed to a magazine that was celebrating Abraham Joshual Heschel. I wasn’t a believer of any stripe then. I remember feeling very lost during that time, weighed down by the poor and selfish decisions I’d been in the habit of making for a long time. I was searching, but had no real faith in anything to speak of.

I don’t remember much about the text Heschel wrote except that he testified that the world really did testify to a Maker. I remember that point making a very real impression on me. I remember thinking on this throughout the day. Well, after work I remember walking down the street and realizing that I could not account for “creation” by man’s efforts alone. It was at that moment when I realized I was a believer–not in Christ, but in a Creator, generally speaking. Then, I had a nagging desire to know this Creator, and remember thinking I didn’t care who it turned out to be, or in which religion I found Him–Buddhism, Islam, Jesus. It just didn’t matter.

I remember thinking, “I really want to know this God. And, I’d really love to have someone who could teach me about it. It was minutes, maybe seconds, from that moment, when a guy walked up to me and asked me if he could ask me a question. I said sure, and he asked me about my “relationship with God.” It took about another 6 to 8 months before I came to the place when I could give my life to Jesus. But, I always remember that thought/prayer which expressed my own desire to know the Creator, and how quickly (within moments/seconds) He answered. That experience has been very helpful in the many moments since when I’ve found myself feeling faithless.

I don’t believe prayer is a one-way street. Prayer comes in many forms, but quite often it is prompted by God. First God speaks, then we ask, and then we see the answer. In this case, God was obviously sending the answer long before the prayer was prayed. Prayer was just part of what God was doing. It was not what initiated God’s actions.

Sometimes God’s actions are initiated by a person or people crying out to him, but just as often his answers are like this. The prayer is just one part of a plan he had long before anyone prayed.

One prayer answer I wrote down, which wasn’t even really a prayer, was something Haviylah, a midwife, told me about. She was at a very difficult birth, and inside she was crying out to God for guidance. Something happened with someone at the birth. I don’t remember whether it was the husband or parents of the mother or maybe someone else. All I know is that someone learned something through all the difficulty of the birth. As Haviylah told the story, when that person–whoever it was–spoke about what was happening, something settled inside Haviylah, and she knew that the baby could now be born. The rest of the labor was smooth, and the baby was born in under two hours.

Like it or not, that is like God. He cares about teaching us, and in the midst of difficult situations it is important–crucial–to look for what God is doing and where he is at. There are not many doors out of difficult situations. There’s usually only one door that will bring about the will of God and the best for all who are involved. Those who know to look for it prosper in all circumstances and cause those around them to prosper.

Blessed is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the Law of the Lord and in that Law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, which bears fruit in its season. His leaf shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so. . . . [They] shall not stand in the judgment.

~Psalm 1:2-5

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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