Shabat Thoughts: The Process of Prayer
Saturday as we looked for the time of the University of Georgia game, we noted it was coming on at 7:15 in the evening and was a home game. "Boy, I am glad we are not in Athens right now! Can you imagine how crazy the traffic must be on those winding streets and it dark as well?" John nodded. "Ha. Just think last year this time Katie was fighting that traffic on Saturdays to get to work or home again." John nodded again.
I felt inclined to write Katie a quick note reminding her of the fact that she'd moved away from that fast food job that kept her tangled in traffic for an hour or more to drive the five minutes from home to work. As I typed out my message to her, I realized that a great deal had changed in her life since last November. She'd faced a lot of hardships and heartaches, the lifetime sort, during the last three years, but all of them seemed nothing to the suffering she went through last fall. John and I cried out on her behalf again and again in our prayers.
As I noted all the changes she'd gone through over the past year, I suddenly saw the full measure of blessing on her life. She is married to a great guy and his family are truly fond of her. She has a better job, one with a future and a promise unlike the one she had at the fast food place. She's expecting her first child after some traumatic things. It is, literally, a new season in her life and most welcome as the last season seemed to go on far, far too long.
In the end the post I made to her was a praise report on her behalf, where I'd only meant to say 'Hi...remember the struggle to get to work on game day?" I read the post off to John and we looked at one another with tears in our eyes. "Our prayers were all answered," he said in a voice thick with tears. And I nodded, because it was exactly what I'd just realized.
Sunday morning a friend for whom we prayed last year about this time posted a praise report of her own. She and her family were struggling. Unemployment, lack of money for Christmas, indecision about what she was meant to be doing, family crisis...We'd prayed for her too during that time and her note was a reminder of how God's provision had made this year a new season in her life. Again tears welled in my eyes.
There are days when I feel God has asked me to pray and I see naught of any change, any glimmer of hope for the persons for whom I'm praying. I look in vain for the slightest thing to turn the tide. I pray until I am weary with asking and yet I ask again and again. And then I have these moments when I 'suddenly' see that all along he'd been answering prayers, mine and others, and that things had indeed had changed. It's not that he wasn't working, but that sometimes the change had occurred so gradually that I'd not noticed until it was fully done. Like watching for dawn the morning I took the photo above. It was dark and then there was just a slim line of light. I expected that was all I'd see of sunrise that morning, but I was wrong. I was doing a bit of housework and now and then would look out the window and work some more. Ever so slowly the color began to come and spread until I looked out the window and gasped. I hurried to the front porch to capture that picture above. It really wasn't a 'suddenly' thing but a process of change that was so subtle I nearly missed the glory of the sunrise. So it is with prayer. It's a process and at the end of it is the wonder of it all.