I usually I give you tips, recipes, workouts, or menu plans. Occasionally you get perspective. Today you get inspiration, and it’s gift-wrapped in my belief about God. Sorry if that’s not your style. It’s just that after a certain sequence of events happened last winter, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I should write about it. Stories like these are meant to be shared.
This whole story begins with a canister of IsaPro…and because it is the product of the week, it seems that the perfect time has arrived. So here it is…an experience that affirms to me that God is more than just an ethereal concept, and yes – prayers to Him really do work.
One evening last winter my husband was out shoveling the driveway before running a few quick errands. I asked him if he would include in his errands the delivery of some IsaPro to a friend down the street. He said he would, and so I set the canister on the trunk of his car while he finished shoveling, and I went back into the house. The next morning, I discovered that my friend had never received the IsaPro. When I asked my husband where this canister could be, his eyes got wide. He had no idea what had happened to it.
After a quick search of the car and garage, we concluded that he must have forgotten all about it and driven away with the IsaPro on his trunk. Somewhere along the way the canister probably flew off the car and lodged into a snow bank as he turned a corner.
Because the cost of replacing this loss would be ours (almost $50) we had good incentive to find it. We scoured the surrounding streets and neighborhood, but it was in vain. The protein powder was nowhere to be found.
I know that worse luck could certainly have befallen us, but even so…I was unsettled about it. If I had to spend an unexpected $50 that day, this was certainly not the way I would have chosen to do it. This was literally the equivalent of tossing a $50 bill out my car window. The situation continued to trouble me all morning, until I finally decided I would try to strike a deal with God. After all, I reasoned, He knew exactly where this IsaPro was. If it was His will, then He could certainly find a way to let me know how to find it. I knew that bartering with Him was a long shot – and completely His call – but I thought I’d try my luck anyway.
Here was my proposal: If God would help me find this canister of IsaPro, then I promised I would give that same $50 I would have to spend to replace it to someone in need. Well, you know how it is with prayer; upon saying “amen” there were no sudden visions or beams of light that appeared. I had no idea how my prayer was received.
So I went about my busy day, business as usual. Then later that afternoon…it happened. God answered my prayer. As I drove down a busy street about a half of a mile from our home, a little flash of blue (the color of the IsaPro lid) caught my eye. I quickly pulled over. Sure enough, buried deep in a dirty snow bank, I found a beat up, run over, scratched and dented canister of IsaPro…the seal still perfectly in place.
Wow. I smiled to myself with a slight case of the chills. Did that really just happen?
With the canister of Isa Pro in my hands, I knew what came next.
After a quick prayer of thanks, I asked who He would have me share the $50 with. When no one came to mind, I decided I would share it with a family I knew who was in need.
Now, I think I’ve made my point. I could conclude with a warm, fuzzy moral: yes, prayers do really work. The likelihood that my eye would have caught such a tiny glint of blue in a dirty snow bank, going at such a fast speed, is too unlikely to call coincidence. But there is still the matter of where I would give the promised fifty dollars. So read on…
Later that night I found myself deep in the throes of the Bewitching Hour (that 60-minute stretch before dinner that is straight from the Twilight Zone, when blood sugar is low, tempers are high, and everyone seems possessed.) I was frantically boiling spaghetti noodles, reviewing spelling words with the 4th grader, and preparing for a meeting that I would be holding in my home in less than an hour (baby attached to my hip all the while) when I got a phone call. It was from a good friend who asked if I was interested in ordering some products from a home party she had hosted earlier in the week. Talk about bad timing! “I’m sorry,” I told her. “I’m really busy right now. Can we talk tomorrow?”
“That’s okay,” she said, though everything about the way she said it told me it wasn’t. “I have to close my party tonight, so tomorrow will be too late. Don’t worry about it.” Then she added, “I just really needed to get another order tonight so I could earn a free mop.” Something about the dejected tone of her voice was just enough to shake me out of my self-absorption. Peeling my attention away from the mayhem surrounding me, I tuned in to her needs in a moment of compassion.
“Leanna,” I said. “How much more did you need to sell in order to get the free mop?”
“Well, I just need one more $50 order,” she said.
Okay…did that just zing you the way it zinged me that night? What were the odds that someone would call me with a $50 need on a day that I had just promised God that I would give $50 to someone? But…all of this for a mop? I said a quick prayer that went a little something like this: “Really? This is where you want me to give that $50?” And then came that warm feeling that I have learned to recognize as communication from God. I knew what I needed to do.
“Okay, Leanna. I will order $50 worth of product,” I said. “Just pick me out something good.”
“Really?” She gushed. “Oh, Jenny, you’re the best friend! How can I thank you enough?” And then came the jewel of this whole story. She said, “I was really busy this week and didn’t have enough time to collect all of the orders I had hoped for. All day I have been praying and praying that somehow I could find someone who would place a $50 order so I could earn that mop I wanted so much.”
So let’s go back to the original question: Do prayers really work? I guess that’s up to you to decide. Personally, I believe that they do. And I believe that prayers don’t need to be rationed or hoarded, used only sparingly for drastic circumstances the way you might cash in on an emergency savings account. From desperate pleadings in moments of crisis to the quiet, even trivial, wishes of the heart, I believe that prayer is meant to be a part of our every day life. And I believe that our prayers are answered a lot more frequently that we might believe. Sometimes it just takes having the eyes to see it.
Not all prayers are answered in such an obvious way as they were for myself and my friend Leanna in this story. But occasionally I believe that we are blessed with such experiences so that we can more easily recognize His hand in our daily lives. Answer to prayer is often painstakingly slow…so slow that we might miss it if we don’t know what to look for. But my conviction after this experience is if God would go to the trouble to help my friend Leanna get a mop, then He is certainly aware of the weightier matters in our lives. If He could hear such a prayer from her, then there is no doubt that He knows the desires of your heart. And if He is willing to orchestrate such a string of events to bring to fruition such an inconsequential wish as getting a free mop, then what must He be orchestrating to answer your sincere prayer?
So pray on, my friends. Those prayers really work, and if you keep saying them, you will have your own remarkable story. Perhaps you already do. If so, please consider sharing those stories with us in the comments section at the top of this post. Remember, stories like these are meant to be shared.