Praying the Distance

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

Many years ago when I was living in San Francisco aka “Baghdad by the Bay,” I heard a message at church about perseverance in prayer. The pastor said, “Sometimes God remembers our prayers long after we’ve forgotten them.” I pondered that statement for a moment; I had prayed many a desperate prayer in my teens and early twenties, asking God to help transform a dark, hidden part of my life that seemed impossible to change or even resist. Could this be true? Could God actually still remember those prayers from so many years ago and actually answer them?!? The fact that I’m sitting here today writing this blog is one of several ways of showing that yes indeed he did remember those prayers and answer them!!!

My mom is another great example of this. In the summer of 1995 I “came out of the closet,” and in the process began living a life of open rebellion against God. In the nine years that followed my family would watch with heavy hearts as I gave my life over to sin, eventually diving head-first into heavy drug use (among other poor choices). My younger brother told me once there were times when my family came close to giving up hope, I seemed to far gone and so uninterested in Jesus. However, my mom in particular never gave up - she gathered with some close friends and for nearly a decade cried out to the Lord and pleaded for my salvation and restoration. In January of 2004 those prayers were finally answered; when I told her and my younger brother of my decision to give my life to Christ, this was her response (I’m getting a bit choked up reading this again!):

My dearest, dearest dearest son,

I can hardly think or speak because of tears of joy and I am
dancing in the halls of the health center praising
our Heavenly Father who is full of compassion and mercy and love.
His love for you knows no ends and do not forget that.

My devotional today comes from Our Daily Bread and is titled “Praying the Distance.” Waiting on the Lord through the painful circumstances of life - a wayward child, incurable cancer, a spouse who has left for someone else, depression that just won’t go away - can be perhaps one of the hardest things to do. It’s easy to ask in these times, “God are you there? Do you hear my prayers?”

In Luke 18 Jesus gives us encouragement to pray using a parable - he tells a story about an unjust judge, who answers a petitioner’s request merely because he doesn’t want to be bothered anymore. Jesus contrasts this with a loving heavenly Father, who “cares deeply for us and wants us to come to Him." The author of today’s devotional offers this encouragement:

We can be encouraged whenever we pray to know that God hears and welcomes our prayers.

I hope and pray my own story is an encouragement to persevere in prayer. Don’t give up! God does care, he does hear - and who knows when you too might be dancing through the halls, unable to speak because God has heard and answered!