There have been times in my life when I have been too overwrought with sorrow or concern to formulate a worded prayer. I have taken great comfort in being able to believe with all my heart that God knows me better than I do; therefore, He completely understands and will help take care of my needs. His Word reassures me of this in Romans 8:26-27 (ESV): “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” But…have you ever thought about the answers you have received to prayers not prayed?
There was an occasion when my husband and I had to ask for help in transporting my bedfast, ninety-year-old mother from a nursing home in Ohio to one here in Texas. My husband had received a long-desired job transfer. We could not afford the hospital-style airfare. We did not have money for ambulance care for that kind of mileage. What could we do? We prayed for an answer. This was before in-home computers, so we snail-mailed friends who were with Sojourners, a group of retired RV-ers. These are folks who spent silver-haired years repairing church buildings, helping with Vacation Bible Schools, doing whatever they could wherever they were needed. (It’s my understanding they still do.) My letter went to their Texas home, but finally reached our friends sojourning in New Hampshire. They called. “There’s a couple here, with a brand new RV that sleeps six. They have to be in Mesquite, Texas a few days after Labor Day. They will come through to take you and Mimi there. Here, I’ll let you talk to Billie.” I talked to Billie. With gushing thankfulness, I gave her directions as we made the upcoming plans. When I hung up the phone, I turned to my husband with the announcement, “Well, we knew to ask for transportation. What we didn’t know to ask for was a nurse. Billie is a retired nurse!” The prayer we didn’t even know to pray had been answered.
More recently, my prayer was that the empty house next door be sold to someone compatible. I prayed that, though I knew God might have someone incompatible in mind because I needed to learn some particular lesson! If that were the case I was willing, and He knew that. Even so, it didn’t hurt to ask for my heart’s desire, someone who would be easy to get along with. We live in a patio home. In our neighborhood that means one whole wall of our house is the property line of the neighbor’s side yard. The only window on that wall, in the dining area, measures about three by four feet, and is filled in with thick glass blocks. We needed good neighbors. The sold sign went up but we seldom saw anyone around. One Sunday as we were getting out of our van, a sweet little woman appeared from next door, saying, “Hi, I’m your new neighbor. I locked myself out. Could I use your phone to call my husband?” She saw that we were using the lift on our van for my husband’s motorized scooter. After we explained his need because of the effects of diabetic neuropathy on his lower limbs, her eyes brightened as she responded, “I’m moving here for my job as a caregiver for a healthcare system. I’m a diabetic specialist. I’ll give you my phone number and you call me if you need me anytime, twenty-four hours a day.” Another time, another prayer answered: a good new neighbor, but again, here was an answer to a prayer not prayed, a health-care specialist on call next door!
Have you caught yourself saying, “Whew! That was close!” when you realized there was a near-miss involving your vehicle in heavy traffic? Would you consider that an answer to a prayer you didn’t pray?
Oh, how about other occasions when you find yourself thinking, “It could have been worse.” Is that a time to consider there has been an answer to a prayer you didn’t pray?
We can be thankful for the promise we find in our beginning scripture, that the Spirit intercedes according to the will of God. God provides amazing ways to surprise and delight us with answers to prayers we don’t have the wisdom or forethought to pray.
Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore 10-7-2010
4 weeks ago