“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: Deliver me, I pray thee.” Genesis 32:9, 11
There are many healthy symptoms in that prayer. In some respects it may serve as a mould into which our own spirits may pour themselves, when melted in the fiery furnace of sorrow.
Miss Havergal has said: “Every year, I might almost say every day, that I live, I seem to see more clearly how all the rest and gladness and power of our Christian life hinges on one thing; and that is, taking God at His word, believing that He really means exactly what He says, and accepting the very words in which He reveals His goodness and grace, without substituting others or altering the precise modes and tenses which He has seen fit to use.”
Bring Christ’s Word—Christ’s promise, and Christ’s sacrifice—His blood, with thee, and not one of Heaven’s blessings can be denied thee. (Streams in the Desert)
Who knows what a day will hold? Mine began early with a three hour drive that morphed into a four and a half hour marathon thanks to road construction and self-absorbed drivers. Upon arriving downtown, I parked on the top floor of a high rise parking garage and walked briskly through the underground tunnel to the ground floor of the main building, took the elevator to the tenth floor, announced myself to the receptionist, and was buzzed through to the elevators leading to the eighteenth floor and offices of a powerful corporate executive. He welcomed me, and motioned to a chair across from him at a round walnut table near massive picture windows opening out to a panorama of skyscrapers, matchbox automobiles, and ant trails of humans hurrying to make it to wherever it was they were late. He leaned back in his chair, loosened his tie and began to tell his story. His priorities were obvious only minutes into the conversation, as he grinned and told me about his granddaughter’s 4.0 average in a prestigious university, mentioned how well another grandson is doing with his musical career, then leaned forward and narrated the addition of a great-grandchild into the mix. Our words could have just as easily been exchanged in a backyard on a warm summer evening. I asked if I might pray for him before exiting, and we both bowed our heads, closed our eyes, and turned our hearts towards home.
I exchanged the congestion of downtown for the crowded shopping area nearby where I went to wait for a luncheon appointment with a couple that are close friends of mine, but whom I’ve not seen for several years. Not long into my vigil I received a phone call from one of the friends saying that they would not make it for lunch because she was being detained at the hospital for more tests. It was then that I learned of her serious health issues surrounding a damaged heart, and we agreed to try again to see one another sooner than later. She admonished me not to forget to pray for them, and I assured her that I would remember. The call ended and I gathered my thoughts and emotions and proceeded to the medical clinic of a young physician friend where I planned to leave some information with his receptionist. She asked me to wait a moment and the doctor came to the door and gestured for me to follow him. We entered his office, exchanged greetings, and he embarked on an incredible narrative about his large family growing larger still by adopting two children from China. That was surprising on its own merits, but then he described the six year old girl as having Down’s Syndrome, and how that led to adopting her best friend, a little boy who is himself visually impaired. I suddenly felt very small in the presence of such love and commitment. Not knowing what else to say, I asked if I could pray right then and we embraced while speaking to the Father about a mother and father’s great compassion and kingdom hearts.
My ‘to do’ list complete, I left the clinic, took the on ramp onto a crowded highway, and began the three hour journey back home. I enjoy driving alone at times just such as that one because it allows for reflection and prayer without anyone tracing my ebb and flow of faith and doubt. My cell phone intruded on my thoughts, the caller ID identifying a phone call from a close friend in a distant country. I answered and small talk gave way quickly to a tale of heartbreak and request for me to pray for a son that was in trouble. My own heart broke for my friend and his family. I lamely asked what I might do for him, and he responded resolutely “Pray for us.” I assured him that I would, and remained true to my word as soon as the conversation ended. Once again I felt small, with the added sensation of being on one end of a long dark tunnel with my friend at the other and no way to get to him so that I might lend a hand. But still, I prayed.
I regularly underestimate the importance and opportunity of prayer. Intercession is much more than flailing desperate cries toward an elusive target; prayer is God’s provision for earth brushing heaven. Whatever the day holds, we make our finest contribution in it through prayer. “And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” 2 Corinthians 1:11 I NLT