So about a half hour ago, I had a pretty weird experience with prayer. I had just gotten out of a meeting on campus, and started to head back to my apartment. As I walked out the door, I realized the solid amount of rain falling from the sky. I had no jacket, no umbrella, and the next few minutes looked bleak at best. I stood under the overhang for a minute, trying to accept the obvious truth that I would soon be cold and wet. So I looked up and prayed (it couldn’t hurt, right?). I prayed, “God, it would be pretty cool if you stopped the rain for the next two to three minutes so I could make the quick walk back to my apartment. I know that’s kind of high maintenance, and it is my fault that I didn’t plan accordingly for this rain, but that would be awesome if you took care of that.” Then I stood there for another minute or so waiting for either the will to walk through the rain or for the rain to lighten up. Neither one of those things happened, but something did.
All of a sudden, Ben, a friend of mine, comes up through the rain with an umbrella. I gave him the old, “What’s up, man?”
He looks at me and says, “Nothing much, what are you doing?” I’m sure I looked pretty strange just standing there alone…
“Just trying to get up the courage to walk through the rain,” I reply.
Then he extends his umbrella to me. I look at him like he’s crazy, and he simply says, “Take this.” I’m sure I gave him a really weird look, so he added, “It’s not mine…I found it. (Ben’s that friend that everyone has who is always finding weird stuff)”
So I took the umbrella, told him I would get it back to him, and walked off towards my apartment. And I was dry!
I tell this story for a few reasons, and the more I think about it, the more reasons I have for telling this story. I’ll try and give these reasons in an organized manner so that you can understand my seemingly disconnected, but possibly connected thoughts:
- Nothing is too small to pray about. Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Seriously bro, that was just a coincidence.” I disagree. Sometimes I think God answers those little prayers in unique ways because He delights in our delight. It’s almost as if God is winking at us, as if to say, “I’m still here, and I love to see you enjoying My presence.” And even if you are convinced that what transpired was 100% coincidental, I have to ask, what’s the harm in praying about the small things? God is all-powerful, and He hears our prayers, even the wee little ones. As a Christian, I believe that God wants us to constantly be praying about literally everything! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philippians 4:6.
- The Lord uses the people around us. I doubt that Ben felt that the Spirit walked him toward my location and told him to lend me the umbrella. I’ll have to talk to him about that, but I doubt that is how it went down. Sometimes people are unaware of the impact they have on us or the way in which they might be used in our lives. I have had many conversations from which I walked away feeling completely filled, and I wonder if those people realized what their words meant to me in the moment. God sends us into each others lives at just the right time, sometimes as an answer to prayer. Proverbs 25:11.
- God doesn’t always answer prayer directly. See, God didn’t answer my prayer tonight by doing precisely what I asked for. God didn’t close up the clouds for a couple minutes, but He provided an avenue for me that I hadn’t considered. Sometimes we become so frustrated with things in our lives that God seems to be ignoring us on. We ask over and over again for the same thing, and we work towards it, but the necessary doors never open for us. We cannot become so focused in on what it is that we want that we limit the ways in which we are open to the work of the Lord in our lives. A life following the Spirit’s lead is surprising, and we rarely can look back and say, “Yeah, I saw that coming.” James 4:13-15.
And I don’t tell this story to say that every time you pray for rain to stop, somebody will show up with an umbrella for you. We are never going to fully understand the working of God in the world, and sometimes waiting on Him to reveal Himself to us is so hard. But tonight was a cool reminder of the mysterious working of the Lord in my life. I hope that if you’ve read this, you feel encouraged about prayer. God is always listening, no matter how small the request, and He is always paving new paths for us. The Lord is faithful.
Father, thank You for working in ways that I would never choose; for Your ways are far greater than mine.