I know God answers prayer
In 1976, my wife, Ruth,
and I began pastoring a church that was almost two years behind
on its building payments to the bank. The church was struggling
financially, to say the least.
During that challenging
time, we once personally owed exactly $90. We needed it the next
day. Ruth and I joined in prayer that God would send the $90.
We told no one except the Lord of our need. The next day, we received
two checks in the mail — one for $50 from my sister and
brother-in-law, Merlin and Judy Mitchell, and one for $40 from
our friends, Jim and Betty Hall. Both had felt impressed of the
Lord days before to send the checks and both checks arrived on
the very day we needed them, totaling exactly the $90 for which
we had prayed.
God is a loving Heavenly
Father who cares about every detail of our lives. The miracle
of prayer is that the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator who
is present everywhere wants to have a relationship with each person
in His creation.
Many people struggle
with the concept that God would concern himself with small details.
But people who can’t comprehend such a relationship with
God are making two significant mental errors.
First, they don’t
understand the nature of God. They mentally create God in their image rather than
recognizing that the opposite is true.
Regardless of how many
resources are at a leader’s disposal or how many people
are available to help him, he has the same number of hours and
minutes in a day as everyone else. That is why people with many
responsibilities have assistants who protect their schedules from
with many responsibilities have increasingly less time for details.
Many people conceive of God as being like that. Of course, nothing
is too big for God, but in some ways what is even more wonderful
is that nothing is too small for Him. It is precisely because
God is infinite that He can devote himself to the infinitesimal.
Through the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, King David wrote:
“O Lord, You
have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when
I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize
my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with
all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold,
O Lord, You know it all.… For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.… Your eyes have seen
my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days
that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”1
God knows our thoughts
before we think them and our words before we speak. Jesus taught
us that God not only knows us by name but also knows how many
hairs are on our heads.2 Nothing is hidden
The second reason many
doubt that God concerns himself with the details of their lives
is that they don’t understand the value of people. Again,
King David said:
“When I consider
your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful
of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little
lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and
Blaise Pascal, the
brilliant French mathematician and philosopher rightly observed
that the greatest star or planet in the universe is of less consequence
to God than one human being, because stars and planets have no
capacity to know their Creator and worship Him.
When I witness to people
who do not believe in a personal God, I find it helpful to share
testimonies of specific answers to prayer in my own life.
In 1979, Ruth and I
were serving as missionaries to the Samoan Islands. Ruth had major
surgery with complications, and we were forced to return to the
United States for a year. We were considering moving from Springfield,
Mo., to St. Paul, Minn. We had no money for the moving expense.
We needed the Lord’s clear direction as to whether we should
We asked the Lord for
both His guidance and His supply, praying that if God wanted us
to move to Minnesota He would send us $1,000 the next day. The
next afternoon a letter was in the mailbox from Wilbur and Mary
Timme in Aurora, Colo. I did not recognize their names. They had
been in a missionary service I had preached at First Assembly
in Aurora. They had taken home one of our missionary prayer cards
and began praying for us every day. In the letter they said, “We
were praying for you today, and the Lord spoke to us that He wanted
you to do something, and you couldn’t do it unless you had
this.” They enclosed a check for $1,000.
The greatest divine
interventions Ruth and I have seen in our lives have almost always
taken place when we were pursuing God’s purpose in our lives,
in obedience to His call, and recommitting our lives to His will.
Promises abound in
God’s Word, but almost all of them have conditions. Staying
in a guest room of a friend’s home, I noted a plaque on
his wall that read, “And we know that God causes all things
to work together for good to those who love God.”4
But the rest of that verse is critical to the promise: “...
to those who are called according to His purpose.” God especially
works in the life circumstances of those who are committed to
His will and purpose.
Proverbs 3:5,6 reads:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your
own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will
make your paths straight.”5 Notice
that God’s promise to direct our paths depends upon our
trusting Him with all our hearts and acknowledging Him in all our ways.
My family is genetically
predisposed to migraine headaches. My grandmother and father suffered
for many years with them, as have my sister, brother and even
my teenage nephew. In each case the headaches began at a different
age. I did not start having them until my early 40s. At that time
I began to have severe migraine headaches about every two or three
weeks. Only people who have suffered from this ailment know how
disabling they can be. In my case I had to stay in a darkened
room for an entire day and sometimes longer before relief came.
I had suffered persistent
migraines for several years when I was asked by the leadership
of Assemblies of God World Missions to serve as communications
director and a member of the World Missions Executive Committee.
I had traveled in ministry for 14 years until that time. Thankfully,
I had never dealt with a migraine at a time when I had to preach
and never had to cancel a speaking engagement or service. But
now I was facing the prospect of working every day in an office
For more than a month
I sought the Lord in prayer concerning His will about accepting
the missions committee’s invitation. I received no witness
of the Holy Spirit or confirmation from God’s Word. No other
circumstances confirmed to Ruth and me whether it was God’s
will to accept this ministry assignment.
I knew that others
had worked in similar circumstances with migraines. But the prospect
of working each day in an office never knowing when I might suffer
from a blinding headache was something that gave me great hesitation
and concern. I took this need to the Lord in prayer and simply
said, “Lord, I don’t believe I can handle working
in a daily office environment with these headaches, even though
I know my father did for many years. I don’t know what Your
will is. If this invitation is Your will, would You just do one
thing? Please heal me of these headaches.”
As I came to the deadline
for giving a decision to the executive committee, I felt God had
confirmed that we should accept the assignment. That was in August
1997 — more than six years ago. I haven’t had one
headache since. There is no doubt in my mind the Lord healed me
of that affliction, an answer to a very specific but simple prayer
of faith. Receiving such answers is a matter of trusting God with
all our hearts and acknowledging Him in all our ways.
Every person has three
lives — a public life, which everyone knows; a private life,
which only our family and closest friends know; and a secret life,
which only God knows. Jesus said:
“But when you
pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father,
who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret,
will reward you.”6
The time devoted to
prayer — “in secret” as Jesus describes —
is when our life of faith is formed in sincerity and personal
We should never forget
what a wonderful privilege we have to enter the Lord’s presence.
God’s people, the Israelites of the Old Testament, could
not do as we can. But through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice,
the veil of the temple has been torn from top to bottom to allow
us access to
our Heavenly Father through God the Son — Jesus Christ.
Joseph Scriven said
it so well in what has become one of the best-loved hymns of the