When I have a chance to brag about God and how He works, that just makes my heart sing. You just can’t outdo God. He has taught me so much through my prayers and his answers to my prayers.
But it didn’t come through some mysterious blast of supernatural knowledge. He has taught me over many years through our conversations and through how He has worked in my life, constantly striving to make me perfect.
He started very early on when I was old enough to understand what He was doing, and mature enough to want to understand more. He had answered many prayers of mine when I was a child, you know those selfish prayers like “Oh, please God let me get this and such for Christmas!” Or “Please God, I studied for this test, help me get an A.”
God taught me about obedience to His commands…
One day my youth pastor’s wife asked me to teach her young boys how to swim. I was a lifeguard at our club pool and had been giving lessons at the Y because I was a certified water safety instructor. So, I told her of course I’d teach them. I picked them up one afternoon and took them to the bayou where everyone cooled off from the summer heat. Those little fish didn’t need lessons. They were naturals. So, we played for a couple of hours and I took them home, refusing the pay she offered me because you lose your WSI certification if you take payment.
Babysitting for the little girl and baby next door kept me in extra funds. My sister didn’t like babysitting so I got all that kind of work. Plus we cleaned house for Mom and received money every two weeks for that. So I tithed regularly. It was never a question for me. I knew it was something God had said we must do, and Jesus had promised that God would care for me more than the flowers of the field, and to never worry where my basic needs would come because He loved me. I knew it, but it was more head knowledge for me because I was so young.
The next Sunday morning it was time for my tithe and all I had was a five-dollar bill. I checked with everyone to see if they had change so I could tuck my two-dollar tithe in the envelope. No one had change, there was nothing in my hidey-hole where I kept my emergency money. So, I held up that envelope and prayed, “LORD, please take this five dollars, take what you need and give me back the rest.” I fully expected Him to keep the whole five dollars, hadn’t a clue how He could give me back anything because the likelihood of three dollars coming my way was slim followed by nil. My reasoning was that whatever money came my way would be tithed anyway. I don’t know what I was thinking. I certainly wasn’t testing God, although I really meant what I prayed.
Between Sunday school and church service, Mrs. Ford called out to me on the breezeway.
“Gina, I just don’t feel right that you taught my boys and I didn’t pay you.” All the while she was digging in her purse. I tried to be kind, but insistent that I couldn’t take any money, wouldn’t take any. The crucial thing for me was to keep my certification so I could work as a lifeguard again. Then she pulled out some money and thrust it in my hand. I pushed it back to her. She said, “All I have right now is three dollars, but I’ll give you more later. Please, just call it babysitting money.”
Three dollars? My mind spun around. Three dollars! LORD God, You are a fast worker! I graciously smiled and turned toward the sanctuary, a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips that God had heard and quickly responded to me, that He had considered me worthy of an answer, but more importantly He had given me a testimony of tithing that has impacted my entire life!
He has taught me humbleness…
God has a great sense of humor and doesn’t mind using it to teach me lessons. I love it when He does. About six months after I was terminated from my economic development job with the local parish government in Louisiana, I was walking in the backyard just full of myself and the things I had done. I had a moment of temporary insanity, forgetting how I had been praying so intently that He help me get those twelve goals accomplished that I had ambitiously set. I was telling God how important I was to the local parish government in Louisiana, what a great thing He did by giving me that job, how without me all that grant money I brought in to do all this good work would never have been awarded, and I lifted my hands to Heaven and actually said—“God, just how much do You think all my work in this parish is worth?” I paused for a moment, then put my hand in my pockets and glanced down. At my feet was a shiny new quarter. All my work was only worth about two bits!
He has taught me to wait on Him because He knows best…
I was on my way across town to help my daughter pack up some things to move. It was a blistering July day and my car had no air conditioning. God and I had been having this ongoing conversation about getting the air conditioning fixed because it had been broken since April. Once again I was talking to God about it. I asked God if it were possible to please just let me sell come cemetery property so I’d get the eight hundred dollars it would take to fix the air conditioning. I reminded Him that I should get to my appointments cool as a cucumber. He reminded me that my appointments were at night when it was cool. I reminded him that I had places to go and things to do during the day time, too, and this summer was particularly hot. He pointed out that this July had been markedly cooler than last July.
I ended my prayer with, “But, I’d like to get from point A to point B cool and refreshed and not smelling like a horse!” He was quiet for a moment. The light turned green and I turned the corner heading to my daughter’s apartment when suddenly, my large thirty-two ounce glass of ice water tipped over into my lap. Oh, yes, I arrived very cool and very refreshed. I laughed all the way to the apartment. I can’t think of anything sweeter than sitting in His lap and laughing together!
Just two short months later, my daughter had just dropped me off at work then my A/C-less Ford Thunderbird had a crushing encounter with a Ford Explorer. My Thunderbird was about the size of a Mustang after that. God knew that encounter was coming, so He kept me from pouring eight hundred hard-earned dollars into that car which would have been a waste.
Those are just a few of the many times God has taught me great life lessons through prayer. He taught me lessons about being on time when He gave me grace for being late to an extremely important meeting by turning every light green just before I got to it. He’s held time still for me, I kid you not, I got to a meeting inside of two minutes on a trip that should have taken at least 15 minutes. He has covered me with His gentle hand when I was devastated by rejection. He has given me employment and He has taken employment away, all for my protection, to keep me from the clutches of Satan or to send me on to my next ministry. That is a story that will have to wait to another day.
Prayer works, or Power of prayer, or prayer power, are misnomers. They imply that the one responsible is the one praying. God is the power and majesty in what goes on here on earth. God taught me that when He taught me humility.
David Jeremiah once said that prayer is what draws us into God’s will and His plan both for us and for others. That was an astounding lesson for me. The power is God and prayer plugs us into that power. So it should be prayerworks, not prayer works! The workings between God and His children is the relationship that God established reconciling us to Him through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Prayer is our recognition of that relationship and His omnipotence, as well as our submission to His divine will. Prayer is that testimony we exhibit everyday when we verbally trust Him. We know we are settled in His will when we are Prayed up by being Adored up, Confessed up, Thanked up, then we can Ask up a storm to the only One who can make it happen.
That term has got me to thinking. Actually, it was God who was getting me to thinking. He was telling me that It is He that works, He that has the power, He that answers prayer. All we do is align ourselves with His will through His word.
Prayer power has that connotation that the person praying is doing the work, like the mere lifting up of a prayer is the work which plugs the power into the request. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but I was amazed when I asked God to recall to me those times He has answered my prayer. I was engulfed with the pretty as well as the ugly of my life. His constant tending to my business has made me more aware of how much He does.
Let me lift up my voice and heart in praise. Let me understand Your ways, teach me them, Lord. Help me to bring you glory and honor. Help me to know the power of the wicked is but straw, easily burned and the ashes spread by the wind of Your breath. Thank you, God for so many blessings they cannot be counted in a single day. I rejoice in You. I give thanks for Your Son. I praise your Holy Name for yours is the power, yours is the kingdom, yours is the glory forever and ever amen.