What If God's People Prayed?
What if God’s people prayed?
In 2010, a pregnancy center dedicated to supporting women who face unplanned pregnancies opened in my area. I was ready. Just a few months before, I had gone through the training at the “parent” center, to be the advocate who supported the women who came through the center’s doors. Now I had a center right in my neighborhood, and I was excited to serve there.
But, especially in my area, it takes a while for people to know of the new place in town, and it takes even longer for them to trust it. My enthusiasm and energy were not met by a dramatic tide of pregnant women. In fact, for month after month, our doors were open, but very few walked through them.
It could have been wasted time. But it wasn’t. My co-worker and I started our day with prayer. At first, it was just a few minutes, enough to pray for God to bring the women that we knew were out there, women who needed our services and support.
But as time went on, and our days flowed uninterrupted, our prayers became longer and more fervent. We prayed for each other’s personal needs and desires and spiritual growth. We prayed for our families and our friends. We prayed for the community, and the poverty and deep spiritual darkness that we saw. We prayed for our state and nation, and its many leaders. We prayed for God’s glory to blaze through our lives and to be revealed to the world.
Soon our prayers lasted hours. We were unaware as time slipped by, while we wept and praised alternately. While we prayed, something changed in me. Not only did many fears evaporate, but many strengths emerged. I began to love people as I had never loved them before, even the types of people that I had always wanted to avoid. I began to read their needs and hurts as though they were open to me. I began to taste a little of God’s anguish for souls.
The compassion and burden remained with me outside of the center’s walls. I particularly remember one day when I was working at one of my jobs, and I felt a pressure to pray. I didn’t know what about, but, since there were no customers to serve, I sat down on the floor and prayed for whatever I could think of. I do not know how to describe the simultaneous pain and peace that poured over me. Similar moments began to occur throughout my daily routines: while I was working, while I was driving, while I was lying in bed waiting for sleep.
Now, when I look back at that time, I recognize the things for which that prayer was preparing me. Women did begin to come to the pregnancy center, women with deep hurts and needs. And I saw people literally transformed.
One teenager came to us, broken by a hurtful relationship and frightened by her pregnancy. By the time a year had passed, she was a completely different person. She was coming often to be discipled, and she was communicating her faith to her friends and teaching it to her child. She wasn’t just surviving. She was conquering.
Another woman had had experiences with Christians that made her resentful, and my co-worker and I knew it was not time to speak with her about Christ. For years, we simply prayed and showed her love. Then, one day, she arrived and her face was literally lit with a glow from within. She could not stop talking about her amazing Jesus and how much she loved Him! My co-worker and I were astonished at the change and cried tears of joy.
We had prayed to be able to offer ultrasound services at the center, but setback after setback delayed that dream for years. We finally got a machine—but there was no nurse to go with it. “We just need a nurse, God,” we prayed for years. God did not send a nurse. He sent a local doctor and a sonographer, both with decades of experience in OB/GYN work. Again, my co-worker and I were moved to tears at God’s abundant provision.
Not every prayer was answered. Sometimes, we prayed for the woman who had chosen to abort her child, for the woman who would not return our calls, for the doors that would not open. But we did not pray in fear. We knew the God we served. We trusted that He was in all situations, working in hearts and doing what only He could do.
I look back on these last five years and I am astounded. Even now, I feel that the pregnancy center—and my own life—are right on the cusp of even greater things. The God I love is one who does not do things halfway and does not give up on us. Prayer is answered.
What if we had given up, when our prayers were not answered in the time frame we expected? What beauties might we not have seen? What opportunities might we have missed? God is so good, that He strengthened us during the weary times with the knowledge that what is sown generously is also reaped generously.
So I will sow with prayer what I shall someday reap with praise. I will seek answers diligently, and prepare for their arrival. I will praise God when He answers, and praise God when He is silent. I will pray when my faith is small, and pray when my faith is great. I will pray for as long as it takes for God’s will to be known clearly. I will pray, because I know what kind of God will answer me.
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None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.