I have learned something about my Father. He yearns to unfold His ways if we will listen and pray.
The God of the Bible is like no other. He creates, oversees, intervenes, guides, directs, judges, and woos people who call upon Him. Even more amazing: He involves us, teaches us how to listen, and walks beside us as we learn to obey. One might say, “How can this be real?” The reality of talking to Him, laying out our supplications before Him, and obeying when He leads us is repeatedly shown in the Bible. I have slowly learned how true it is. When I first received the Lord Jesus Christ in my twenties, I had no idea of these things. I learned as the years passed. He still surprises me, taking me on journeys of prayer and action that I would not have guessed were possible. I remain astounded at His attention to unseen detail to bring something to pass and involve people in the process. The example of Jesus Christ shows it over and over again. He retreated to private places to pray. Prayer was linked to action in His life–it was never a ministry in itself. Talking with the Father led to things being done and people being changed. That example is for us.
A few years ago my late wife and I met Kate. I can’t explain it, but I loved her as a daughter from the first time I met her. She lived in a house with a bunch of girls who we would call orphans. After a couple trips to the Philippine ministry, we went one evening to spend time with the girls. We wanted to talk with them and then pray for them. Kate stayed in the shadows. Something had changed in her. Her demeanor spoke that something was not right, but neither of us felt the liberty to ask her to come for prayer. She watched quietly while we prayed for the others but would not come closer. She would not look at us and kept her eyes lowered. The scene, which I could not forget, drove me to prayer. I told the director that something was not right and I was concerned. We left for our home in the states. Her name came to mind hundreds of times, and hundreds of times I would pray. After a year or so, the burden lifted. I wondered what had happened.
This year I had another mission trip to the same Philippine ministry. As I rounded the corner at the director’s house, there was Kate. I was so moved and shocked that I ran to her and she to me. I picked her up and hugged her as both of us chattered at once. Her eyes were bright and steady as she told me how she was doing. I did not learn detail about the difficult time she had had, I just knew she was fine. Her eyes said it all. I was so excited I lifted her off her feet and hugged her again–so aware that all the prayer that was so gently held for so long had been answered. And, I was so honored to have had the Lord involve me this young girl’s life. Tears were not foreign to me that night as I thought about what had happened, I could not sleep for a long time.
A few minutes later the director arrived. Kate motioned to me not to say anything because she wanted to pop out of the shadows and surprise Tita Pat. It was another joyful moment. So here is her picture with us, but there is so much more in the picture than faces. It’s the story about Kate, and how God worked in me to pray then graciously gave me the joy of seeing the results.
It is no surprise to friends who know me or Tita Pat that we pray when names and faces come to mind. My list of faces and names that come to mind is getting longer and the prayers for some go for months. If possible and appropriate, I take action to talk and pray face to face with the person. I have known the pain of not obeying the Lord when somebody comes to mind but I do nothing. Even more, like the situation with Kate, I get a glimpse of the way God involves us as we pray for others. Once in awhile I get to see the results. If you know Jesus, follow his example. If the story spoke to you, do what I do.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who is able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Hebrews 5:7