For more than forty years I have been a Christian and for more than thirty years I have been a disciple, or learner, of Christ. (I am sad to have to admit that for the first ten years or so that I was a Christian I grew very little. I remained an infant child of God much too long.) One of the greatest sources of blessing and joy I have ever experienced is answered prayer. I am thinking of those answers that “stick out” in my memory. I am referring to definite, specific, answers, to specific requests, that any honest person would conclude were outside the realm of chance; answers that could only be attributed to God.
I remember that as a young husband and Bible school student my rent was due on Monday and here it was Friday and I had perhaps $3.00 including change. God had in answer to prayer provided a brand new house for $90.00 a month, but even that meager amount was hard to come by in the early 1970’s for a student and part time worker. I decided I would look only to God for the rent money and so I went into my study and there on my knees earnestly asked God for $90.00 so I could pay my rent on time. I had blessed assurance God would answer as He had promised. As I drove to church on Sunday night frankly I was a bit shaky in my faith, but I determined to depend on God the best I could. My wife and I were invited to visit with friends after church for singing and fellowship. As I sat in my car in the pouring rain I dug into my pockets to find the bit of money I had so we could buy doughnuts to share with our friends. Suddenly there came a knock on my car window. A young preacher, the father of five boys, Bible school student by day, and deputy sheriff by night, pressed a bill into my hand and said “The Lord told me to give you this” and ran hurriedly away in the downpour. I handed the bill to my wife and said “God just gave us doughnut money, now I will have gas money for tomorrow”. When we got to the store we found the bill was a $100! God had given doughnut money and the rent money I had asked for! We had a sweet time of praise and thanksgiving for this answer to prayer. Of all the people I knew at the time, this young preacher was one of the least likely to have a one hundred dollar bill much less give it away!
Another time the same year I had again gone to my Father in prayer about rent money. And on the day the rent was due I found in my mail box in a plain envelope with no address, bills and change totaling exactly $90.00. No other person other than my wife had any knowledge of our need. I recall these answers to prayer to make the point that I know from experience that God answers prayer. Giving rent money, healing and bringing my father to Christ, and making a gallon of gas go further than it naturally would, over and over; God has lovingly given specific answers to specific prayers. God did not answer these requests because I am a special person, or because I have great faith, but because He does what He promises. Again and again God asks and commands people to pray.
The Lord has blessed me with six grandchildren! They are too wonderful for words. I love them so much more than I ever dreamed I could love a child. Because I love them so much, it pleases me to do things for them. If one of them comes to me and says “Milk Papa!” that is enough said. I jump to the task like a bird dog going for a duck. What kind of grandpa would I be if I required that little fellow to address me something like this. “Dear Grandfather, I come into thy presence today to thank thee for loving me and to reflect on the goodness thou hast shown to me your grandchild in the past. Dear Grandfather, I have come to realize that after I have consumed a large quantity of popcorn that I thirst. Would it please thee my Grandfather to grant that I may have some milk Grandfather? If thou knowest it would be better for me to have water dear grandfather, or mineral oil I will thus be content. But if it by thy will for me to have some milk my heart would overflow with unending gratitude.I thank thee my grandfather for hearing me in this matter”.
I would never require my grandchild to come in some formal, stuffy impersonal way to ask me for something. God does not require that either. When my mom needs a gallon of milk she does not pray for an hour, she just says to God “Lord I need a gallon of milk before morning” and God gives her the milk! (this was written before mom went into a nursing center in 2004)Prayer is not a complicated matter; it is just a child asking his or her Father. How foolish God must think we are sometimes when we come to Him as if He did not even know us. He knows what you need before you ask Him (Matt 6:8). He also knows our hearts and the Holy Spirit makes requests on our behalf when we don’t know what to pray as we should. He makes requests on our behalf that can not be spoken with words. (Rom8:26).
Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking. Knock and keep on knocking. For he who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and he who knocks will find the door opens. Some people pray kneeling, some pray standing, some pray with eyes closed, some pray with eyes open, some pray with hands lifted upward, some pray with hands in pockets, some pray loud, some pray quietly, and some pray silently. Some people pray in the morning, some people pray before bed, some pray while jogging, some pray while driving, and some pray while diapering the baby. Some pray with tears and some pray with eyes dry. But all of those who get their prayers answered have one thing in common. They pray…… Will you and I?
I want to acknowledge some of the people who have been an example and encouragement to me regarding prayer.
John R. Rice whose book, Prayer, Asking and Receiving, has often stirred my heart and encouraged me to continue steadfast in prayer. Once in
Atlanta, Ga. after a Bible conference I approached Dr. Rice with a matter that I wanted him to pray about and I will never forget his response. Although there was a line of perhaps fifty or seventy-five people waiting to speak to him, he said “I’ll pray about it now because I might forget to do it later“. And he put his hand on my shoulder and prayed a brief but direct prayer. By his example he taught me a valuable lesson. I am seldom guilty of telling someone that I’ll pray for them and then forget about it and not pray. Sometimes I will pray aloud with them right then, but most of the time, right at the moment of the request, I will silently go to my Father and ask.
My dear mother has taught me to pray by her example all of my life. Now over eighty years old and totally blind, this sweet widow lives alone and reports again and again of answers to prayer to this happy son. She has taught me the priority of prayer. When she needs a gallon of milk she goes to God about it first and many times in only moments there will come a knock on the door, or the phone will ring, and someone will say “Aunt Vivian, I am going to the store. Do you need milk or anything?” She tells me when loneliness comes “I just talk to God”. How many blessings do we miss because we do not put God first in everything? George Muller’s life of prayer has also been such an encouragement regarding prayer. I have read dozens of times a little paper back book recounting answers to prayers offered to God on behalf of the many orphans he cared for. Published after his death, these memoirs have shown to thousands how God will do what He has promised in answer to prayer. Mr. Muller had a life long policy that no human would ever be contacted about the need of the orphan homes, that only God would hear the daily requests so that no person could ever doubt the bountiful provision of God in answer to prayer. I encourage anyone who can find a copy of this book, Answers to Prayer to get it and read it. It is worth the effort required to find it.
Also, Andrew Murray, Harry Ironside, Dr. J Vernon McGee, E. M. Bounds, and others who have written on the subject of prayer have been of great value as the Lord teaches me about prayer The desire of my heart is that some who read these words will be challenged, and encouraged to pray, and thus to experience one of the supreme joys of being a child of God, answered prayer.
Grace and Peace, Royce Ogle