For many years prayer meant praying the problem away. Right? A little like Clairol washing the gray away by covering the grey. I’d pray and pray and trust that God had it in His control. My focus was on the difficulty that was beyond me; the need that threatened my well-being.
Sometimes it seemed that God answered my prayers.
Others times it appeared that He said no. It would be too easy to think there was some problem in me or how I prayed. God seemed distant and silent.
But as I grew not only in age but also in understanding I began to see the key to praying was who I was praying to – the Lord. He was the Almighty One. He was my Provider and Protector. He supplied my needs. It all went back to Him.
As a nine year old I didn’t fathom why God didn’t heal my grandfather of lung cancer. My older brother and I prayed. I remember that time now more than 60 years later.
There in my brother’s bedroom, we opened our Bible and read that verse “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.
We held each other’s hand and prayed with full hearts and simple words. Can’t quite remember what we prayed but God knew. We wanted our fun-loving Grandpa to live. After praying I was relieved. I knew that we had done what we needed to do. Asked.
No one could have been more surprised than I when a few days later we got word that my Grandpa had died. Died.
Just gone. I could hardly take it in.
My brother and I never discussed it. I didn’t share my crushing disappointment with others. My parents were already dealing with the pressing needs of the moment. Deep within I knew that something was wrong. God had not answered our prayer.
My experience with prayer had shaken me. Not that I questioned God. Not at this time. But I felt somehow we hadn’t prayed correctly. It was only weeks later that as I sat on my bed and read books about prayer that I began to understand that sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no and sometimes He says wait.
But the Lord Who loved me had not chosen to hurt me, No He comforted me through my pain of loss and disappointment. His Will was not my will. And although my Grandpa died I could trust the One Who said no.
Yes, I already knew that sometimes my earthly dad said no. Not because he was mean or delighted in causing me grief. No, more often than not, because he knew what was best for me and loved me deeply.
Slowly my prayers grew to be focused on the One Who was far bigger, far greater, than I could imagine. He loved me.
“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35 NKJV
Just thinking about that blew my mind. That Jesus loved me.
Honestly I think if I’d been older I would have been more shaken by God’s answer to that simple, innocent prayer we made. But I was a child who had already learned in a way that only a child can know to depend up the Lord. And even though I was surprised by the answer it didn’t separate me from knowing that Jesus loved me no matter what.
Life and studying God’s Word showed me that my focus must be on the Lord – not on the just the answer. As I learned to know the Shepherd who tenderly cared for the sheep, I also began to trust His care. There were times of disappointment and grief, there were times of illness and loss but always as I read His Word I saw that He was there.
It was that growing understanding of His loving Presence that held me secure through the storms, some unexpected upheavals, and drew me to increase my focus on knowing Him and making the Lord the focus of all my prayers.
That beloved hymn that I often was drawn to play on the old upright piano taught me the marvelous truth that as I turned my eyes upon Jesus, those things of earth would truly fade in importance. Gazing into His Face even when there were no words at all to say continues to bring a peace that holds.
Many times as we look around the darkness surrounds us and we see no light. But as we lift our eyes to Jesus we discover a Light that is brighter and the brightest lights here on earth.
No, His Word will never fail us and knowing that we can serve in our world and keep sharing His promises. He is the Source of Power. He is the Answer to every need. And our loving Lord is the One Who will never fail us.
This is no magic wand, no simplistic response to complex challenges. No it is the Truth. Jesus can be depended upon to not only understand our hearts but to meet us at our point of need. In Him is the Light of His Glory and Grace. And we can know Him personally.