Elvie was a new Christian and a mother of two young children. Her husband Dick was a former Golden Glove boxing champion, and he liked to go out drinking on the weekends with his friends. Often, Dick and his friends would get involved in fights at the local bar. Elvie knew there was little hope that she would be able to remain faithful in her walk with the Lord unless her husband also got saved. For several months, Elvie prayed and prayed for Dick with no effect. She went to the altar at every church service. The congregation became so concerned for her that they also began to pray fervently for Dick. Even during the offering prayer, someone prayed that Dick would to come to know Jesus as his Savior. Months went by; nothing seemed to change. One Sunday morning, Elvie felt that the Lord was calling her to do more than pray. She didnt know much about fasting, but she knew that it said in the Bible that people often used fasting in addition to prayer. Elvie felt like God wanted her to fast for three days for Dicks salvation. She decided she would try it and see what would happen. She asked her sister and her sister-in-law to support her in prayer during her fast.
Dick was the last person Elvie wanted to know that she was fasting, because she knew he would do everything he could think of to stop her. When dinner time came, Dick immediately sensed Elvie was up to something. He insisted that he was not going to eat any dinner unless Elvie ate something first. When Dick continued to insist, Elvie explained to him that she was fasting. Dicks immediate reply was, Im not getting saved and you cant make me.
The week went on, and Elvie prepared meals for her husband and the children, but she didnt break her own fast. Often, she would wait until Dick got involved in watching something on television, and then Elvie would sneak off down the hall to the bathroom to pray. Every single time, Dick would follow her and stand outside the bathroom door. I can hear you in there praying, he said, and I want you to stop it right now. Elvie told Dick that she needed to pray, and he couldnt stop her from doing it. After the third day, she felt like the Lord had released her from her obligation. There still seemed to be no change in Dick. He continued to insist that he wasnt getting saved, he didnt need to be saved, didnt want to be saved, and nobody was going to make him. Friday night came, as he normally did, Dick went out to the bar with his friends. At 1:30 AM, Dick could no longer resist the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and he rushed out of the bar and drove home as fast as he could so that Elvie could pray with him and he could get saved. He didnt make it all the way into the house; he fell down on his face in the front yard and gave his heart to Christ. Often, when we have been praying for a deep soul burden for a very long time, it is easy for us to give in to negative thoughts about why God has not answered our prayer in the way or the time we think is right. We think God is angry or displeased with us or that he has not heard our sincere prayers. Other times, we try to help God along by attempting to create our own answers. We intervene in situations, speak out of turn, and make matters worse instead of better. When we remember that God works in his own perfect timing and in his own perfect way, we can be encouraged to continue to pray and fast for His perfect will to be done in every situation. Prayer and fasting can prepare us to be more in tune with the Holy Spirit as we pray for lives to be transformed and hearts to be changed.
Father, help us to remember that when we have prayed for a long time for something to change, the fact that there seems to be no effect does not mean you are not working on our behalf to transform the hearts of those we love the most. Help us to keep in mind that we walk by faith, not by sight. Amen.
– Rev. Mary Nichols, Associate Pastor, Green Valley Church of God, St. Albans, West Virginia