Often prayer is more about listening. Early in my ministry, a group of five persons visited the church I was pastoring. Three of the individuals were siblings of a lady whose immediate family was long-term members. A few days later, I was informed that one of the guests had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was hospitalized for treatment. This family that had visited our church had spent their lives living on the edge. You name it, and they had done it was an apt description of their lifestyles.
After hearing of the ladys diagnosis, I determined to visit her at the hospital. As I was about the leave the office for the visit, I heard what I sensed was the Lord saying, Pray for Jane (not her real name), she will give her life to me today. First, I asked Lord is this really you? Then, I thought of possible distractions from family members that may be present. Finally, I prayed that if this was really from God that he would clear the way and fulfill what he said.
As I entered the room, sure enough, some family members were present. They quickly excused themselves. As I approached Janes bed I said, I have some good news for you. She replied, Good, I could certainly use some good news. To which I responded, Jane, God loves you and wants you to spend all eternity with him. That brief conversation began one of the most beautiful transformations I have ever witnessed. The next eleven months she radiated with Gods love and was instrumental in leading those other family members to Christ. During the following months, transformation after transformation occurred throughout that family. I have often thought back on this incredible time. Here are some lessons I have learned from this experience.
God is at work in the world, even when it seems he is not. God had been preparing this family to receive his gracious love in Christ while the external evidence looked bleak.
We are never first in other persons lives; God is! God had already prepared Jane to receive him. He just told me what he was doing and sent me to tell Jane. She accepted his invitation and was forever transformed. Helen Keller, the famous American author and activist, contracted a disease at nineteen months of age that left her blind and deaf. It is said, when someone communicated Jesus Christs love to her, she exclaimed, I have felt him for a long time, but I never knew his name.
If we will listen, God will direct us and use us in his transforming work. God is going about his transforming work in this world. If we tune in, we can hear his voice and be directed by him in his work. I have discovered that is much more fruitful than me attempting to direct my own efforts.
Father, we are thankful that you are working your plan in this world. Forgive us for not listening as we should, and deliver us from our attempts to direct you in your work. Help us to maintain sensitive hearts and ears that we may hear clearly when you speak. Amen.
-Dr. Charles Wright, Regional Pastor and Overseer for Kansas and Oklahoma Panhandle