Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2 Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
3 because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
I listened to a sermon tonight about prayer and it got me thinking about the legacy of prayer that has followed me since my childhood. From the time I was a little girl I can remember falling asleep every night talking to Jesus. I wasn’t necessarily taught to do that, but from the time of my salvation at 5 years old, I knew that I could call upon the Lord and He would answer me. I wasn’t raised regularly attending church, and by my adolescence I had revolted defiantly against organized religion and church attendance, but I still had this intimate ritual of conversations with the Lord before I fell asleep. It was my only safe place at times. When the angst of teenage life overcame me, I could feel the Lord beckoning me into His lap and opening His ears to my every cry and complaint. I never doubted it.
I realize now what a gift from God that was. That’s not how things should have gone for me. But God didn’t care what “should” have been my story, but instead cared about me and the plans He had for me from the very beginning. He knew that prayer would be my only life line at times. He knew it would shape me into the woman I have become. And He knew that without that prayer life, my husband never would have found Jesus.
If you know me, or you regularly read my blog, you know that I got married during a time in my life where I wasn’t walking with God at all. The man I married did not know Jesus, and instead was a devout Muslim from Saudi Arabia. I think that may be as opposite of Christian as it gets.
But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
And that’s what I did. I cried desperately out to God for help. I knew that without God I had nothing. My trust in Jesus grew as my relationship with the Lord was rekindled out of desperation for my husband’s salvation, and with my growing faith I grew bolder and bolder in my requests to God. I became desperate for my husband to know Jesus, and no amount of arguing would sway him. I had no recourse except to admit to God that I had been foolish and brought myself into that anguished place of falling in love with and marrying someone who didn’t know Him. What else could I do but pray?
In those days, my husband was not a good person. At times he was cruel. His words tore at my heart. His arguments waged a war on me that tore me down to the very bones. He was relentless in his attempts to convert me. His barbs of persuasion drew spiritual blood on a daily basis. I don’t know how I survived it, except that the Lord had given me this gift of prayer intimacy that drew me into His arms when my world seemed darkest.
My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.
22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
My husband had become a cruel tool of the enemy, but the Lord heard my pleas for help and answered me. When the war raged around me, I sought comfort in the arms of the Lord. It didn’t take long for me to be stirred to invite others into my mission to pray for my husband’s salvation. I was desperate and prayer was all I knew. Prayer and John 3:16. That was my entire Christian resume. And it was more than enough. After enlisting thousands (really!) to pray for my husband, the Lord granted my request and spoke boldly into my husband’s life and he found salvation.
God hears our prayers. He never needed me to be a grand apologist or theologian. I didn’t need arguments or clever words. All I needed to do was cast my burdens upon the Lord and have faith in His love for me. I knew one thing for certain: Jesus loved me, he loved my husband, and together, through prayer, we could bring my husband into the Presence of God. It truly was a miracle the day my husband came to Christ. Only God can bring revelation to a proud and stubborn Arab Muslim from Saudi Arabia who grew up with the nickname “the little Imam”.
Prayer has power, not because it is some sort of magical spell to invoke the Spirit of God, but because our God is a God of partnership and promise. He promised Abraham that the world would be blessed through him, and God has kept that promise. He kept it with me, and He’ll keep it with any who would trust in Him. So, don’t give up on prayer. And don’t give up on those you love who need Jesus. Partner with the Lord in prayer as I have done, and see what partnership with the Creator of the Universe can look like.
Lord, I pray for faith to trust You more. I pray for all who are struggling with prayer and the fear that their prayers never get past the ceiling. Renew hope in those who are suffering and doubting. Give them Your peace and call them to prayer. Show us how faithful You are, Lord Jesus! Show us Your salvation through prayer and petition. Teach us to pray more. And teach us to trust and obey You in all things. Thank You for saving my sweet husband. And thank You for the powerful anointing in ministry You have given him, all because I asked for him to know You. You invited him in and he accepted You. But You didn’t stop there. You gave more than I could ask or imagine. You give good gifts to Your children when they ask You. And You gave me a beautiful gift that day that You showed my husband Your face and invited him into Your family. Thank You, Jesus. You are Salvation for all who believe. Thank You for the faith to believe You over and over again. I love You, Jesus. Thank you for teaching me to pray.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Here is the sermon I mentioned: Sermon on Prayer