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Why Pray?

Updated on April 13, 2019
Leland Johnson profile image

Leland Johnson is a student of history, religion, politics, and current events. He wishes to respectfully engage readers on those points.

Daring the Skeptic

I am beginning this article with a story. I urge you to read it through, not only because it is a true story, but more importantly I believe that it will make it all but impossible to argue to the contrary, ie that God does not answer prayer, or perceived answers to prayer are only chance or coincidence. In fact, I challenge the skeptical reader to finish this story and still come to a conclusion of the possibility for coincidence. The timing is too perfect, the details too synchronized. So skeptic, I challenge you, I DARE you...read on and try to remain a skeptic.

I had just been invited to a Toastmasters International meeting after taking an 18 month hiatus from the club. (Toastmasters International is an organization dedicated to improving public speaking skills- no plug intended) I decided to go and see old friends and enjoy the varied exercises and training methods espoused by the club. The night before the meeting I was looking through some old folders, not related to the meeting, when completely by chance (or so I thought) I found my Toastmasters handbook that I thought I had lost a year earlier. "Ha! How cool is that! I found my handbook the day before the meeting!" Please keep in mind that I wasn't even looking for the handbook. Even though I am a person of faith I did not ascribe my good fortune to anything God was setting up or was divinely orchestrating. I just thought I got lucky.

I was to attend the meeting immediately after work the following day so, naturally, I took the handbook to work with me. As I was walking up the sidewalk toward my building I saw a co-worker walking with her head down looking heavy hearted. I trotted to catch up to her. Slowing down I greeted her, "Hi Sandy," then asked, "How are you? Is anything wrong?"

To my surprise, she opened up immediately and said, "Well, my house caught on fire last night. We were just pulling in the driveway and saw smoke pouring out of the kitchen window. We were able to get the fire put out, but all my appliances were fried. The house is going to be ok, but I don't even have a microwave. (please stay with me now, the story is about to get interesting- I'm being as concise as I can for Pete's sake!)

"Oh wow," I said. That's terrible. I didn't know what to say to her, isn't it hard to know what to say in a situation like that? I said the only thing I could think of- "I'm so sorry. If I can do anything please let me know. I'll sure be keeping you guys in my prayers."

She thanked me and we continued to walk into the building in silence. As we went to our particular departments I prayed silently. "Lord, I meant what I said to her. I ask you to watch over Sandy and her family, and if there's anything I could do to help I'd really like to. Amen."

I walked into the men's locker room to change into my scrubs as I work in the surgical department of a local hospital. I changed my clothes as I always do and had about five minutes before needing to be at the nurses' station for morning report. I decided to thumb through the Toastmasters handbook I carried in. To my surprise I noted that pressed between the pages were five, crisp 20 dollar bills. (See, I told you it was getting interesting!) It was so strange because I didn't, and still don't, remember putting that money in the handbook, the handbook I had misplaced over a year ago, but I knew I must've because one of the bills had food on it, macaroni sauce or mustard, something like that. I'm notorious for getting food on my hands then tracking it to whatever I touch, in this case a set of $20 bills.

Forgetting about Sandy and her family, my thoughts turned to my selfish self and I said, "Aha! Awesome! I'll use this money to get the new shoes I need." Then, I distinctly heard the voice of God in my heart, in my head, somewhere in my consciousness. I heard it clearly. Anyone who has ever heard it knows what I'm talking about. For those that haven't, you can if you listen, but being a skeptic places invisible hands over spiritual ears and you can't hear for that reason. Anyway, please keep reading...it gets better. I heard God's voice say, "The money isn't for you." Instantly I knew it was meant for Sandy and I felt a wave of guilt wash over me for my self centeredness. "Oh Lord, I'm sorry. Of course. This money is for Sandy." Well, yes and no. I then heard the voice of the Lord say, "Go downstairs and buy the microwave." That's it. That's what I heard.

Now you have to know that the hospital where I work has a very odd little store. It's like a gift shop on steroids and features everything from candy bars to big screen TV's, but I have never seen kitchen appliances, like a microwave, in it. Well, I ran down the three flights of stairs and into the store (it's directly below my department) and began looking for a microwave. At first I saw nothing. Then, to my shock and wonder, I saw it. Not only was it a microwave whose final price came to $99.97, but the brand name on the box is shown in a photograph below, the photo I took with my phone as I carried it out to Sandy's car later that day.

The Toastmaster Miracle

I don't like the expression "prayer works" because prayer isn't about getting God to do something for you. Prayer, is many things, but here specifically, is a chance to see God at work in the life of people. I believe that saying "prayer works" belittles the event of divine intervention. Prayer isn't about "getting." It isn't a formula that, when performed in the right setting, using the right method, using the right language, compels God to give you what you want. It is the opportunity to see Him at work as a testimony to the reality of Himself.

Now, dear skeptic, can you argue with this story, assuming it is true? If you think I am lying or embellishing then it is easy to dismiss my conclusion, but lets assume I'm telling the truth; that I really found the Toastmasters handbook containing the $100 the day after Sandy's microwave was destroyed, and that the microwave I found in the store where I worked was the only one on the shelf, and that it's cost was almost exactly $100 to the penny ($99.97- I put the remaining 3 cents in the "need a penny take a penny, have a penny leave a penny cup.), and can it be chalked up to chance or coincidence that the brand name of the microwave was "Toastmaster?" Have you ever even heard of that brand? Apparently it's been around for a long time, but I've never heard of it. I thought an angel put it there for me to find. My point is, it would take more faith to believe that all those circumstances aligned by chance than it would to just believe that there is a God in heaven that cares for people right down to the small details of their lives.

There is intimacy in small things. You could say, "Well what about the rest of her appliances? What about smoke damage to her house?" Yes, those are real issues and God has dealt with them as well, but often times He starts small in the life of someone He is trying to reach. He starts with the small and the intimate so that the person will know there is no other reasonable explanation other than "God has spoken to me...God has touched my life and I must respond." And I ask, how will you respond to this story? Will you mock it? Will you at least think it over? Yes, there are bigger problems in the world and it would be easy to wonder why God lets big things, big and bad things, go on, and why you should believe in Him just because of a miraculous microwave. Jesus said, "He who is faithful with a very little is faithful also in much." Luke 16:10

God too, often starts with little things in our lives in order to gain our trust because this is something we all know intuitively to be true: How do we know how our child will treat his or her first car? Look at the way they treated their bicycle. Now doesn't that just resonate as true to you? Doesn't that make sense? God's methods are not unreasonable, not far out and ethereal, but near us, near our lives with all our hurts and troubles. I hope you will exercise prayer simply by faith, even if you've never done it before. "God, if you're there, will you help me to see? Help me to hear? Help me to understand?"

Blessings

"He who is faithful with a very little is faithful also in much."

— Luke 16:10

© 2019 Leland Johnson

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    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      15 months ago from Midland MI

      Hi Kelly,

      I meant that most seminarians believe that they have a special calling or special access to the Lord due to their religious credentials. I am against that. What credentials did Peter have? John, Andrew, Philip, even Jesus for that matter. No credentials, in fact those WITH credentials, like the Pharisees and Saducees, were vigorously opposed by the Lord. I am certainly not against education. The apostle Paul was highly educated, but that just goes to show God can use anyone and that people are not excluded because they have no education or an abundance of it. What matters is that individuals hear the voice of the Lord. That’s what He said, right? “My sheep hear my voice.” No one can hear the voice of the Lord for us. It is an internal “hearing.” In God’s economy there is no such thing as a denomination. Denomination suggests a division in the Lord and there is no division in Him as I feel you would agree. Therefore, I don’t recognize denominations. If we are to call the people of God “the people of God” regardless of which denomination with which they are affiliated, then why belong to a denomination at all? The very existence of a denomination is evidence of that division. Anyone who belongs to a denomination believes theirs to be superior to the others. If that’s not the case, why belong to one at all? God never required it, right? Thanks for your thoughts and comments.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      15 months ago from Midland MI

      Thanks my friend!

    • profile image

      Kelly Green 

      15 months ago

      In your comment to Mike below, is it really that you feel “faith has been hijacked by professional clergy”, or that you completely disagree with the majority of clergy’s stance relating to the deity of Christ? By definition, clergy refers to being ordained by an official body of a church. So many preachers/teachers today are not ordained yet spreading the Good News of the Gospel in a more formal setting to reach as many people as possible. Faith means to have complete trust and confidence. If someone’s “faith” is dictated by a clergy person, is that true faith in our Lord? Faith is not dictated by a religious preference, a preacher, a mentor- true faith in our Lord is in our hearts and comes through in our actions. I know a person trying to get the Word of God to as many people as possible because, as we both know, time is short. He offers to do this and forego pay, because it’s not about the money, it’s about God’s people...not Catholics, not Baptists, not Lutherans or any other label you can give them...God’s people.

    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      15 months ago from Central Florida

      I love it when my favorite hubs resurface!

      Happy New Year Leland.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Suzie 

      15 months ago from Carson City

      Hi Leland....Good to read another of your fine works. This is the 2nd. hub I've responded to today about "prayer." Has to be a New Year message to heed! Thank you and "Happy New Year to you & yours, Leland" May all your prayers be answered.Peace, Paula

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      15 months ago from Midland MI

      Mike- thank you for reading and commenting. I feel that faith has been hijacked by professional clergy. It is refreshing to hear people like you seeing God as the Father He is! Blessings!

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 

      15 months ago

      Leland, that was very interesting.

      I have prayed and had them answered. I've also prayed and had them not answered.

      When I asked a fellow person of faith about this, she told me God is like our father. We can make requests, but only God knows what is best for us. So, I realize an unanswered prayer has more to it than I realize. I trust it is God's will and I believe this is a test of my faith.

      I enjoyed reading your story.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      15 months ago from Midland MI

      Yes sir, thank you for reading and commenting.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      15 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Interesting. Thanks.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      20 months ago from Midland MI

      Hi Betty, I’m so glad the story resonated with you. Our respective worlds are so much better when see and realize God is at the center, that He is the only true reality. How amazing that He cares for little old us! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Annkf profile image

      Betty A F 

      20 months ago from Florida

      Leland,

      This was a fantastic read. You're very articulate, and I could almost picture every part of the story.

      Over this past week I purposely counted 5 times that I read comment's on Social Media where different people said that they were "tired of hearing about thought's and prayers."

      I couldn't help but think, "can anything actually be more valuable than prayer?"

      Reading this article was honestly like a prayer confirmed.

      Loved it!

      God bless you!

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      24 months ago from Midland MI

      That’s what I was aiming for, Ms. Dora. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      24 months ago from The Caribbean

      My take away point from this story is the importance of listening for and hearing the voice of God. I'm happy that you heard and obeyed it. Thanks for sharing your faith and nourishing mine.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      24 months ago from Midland MI

      Vivian- I like the “seed or bread” idea. You’re right- she was touched and we had a good talk about how it was God, not me, looking out for her. Funny about you and your husband, my wife and I have a very similar story. We knew each other as teens then found each other over 20 years later and married after about two months. Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • Noelle7 profile image

      Vivian Coblentz 

      24 months ago

      Missed seeing you around here, Leland! Nice to have you back!

      What an AWESOME STORY! A former pastor used to say every time money was put into his hands, he always asked God, "Is this seed or bread?"

      You were obedient!

      I would think this story would have really touched Sandy because it wasn't just about you helping her out and being generous......it was about God caring about her and all the little things and going out of His way to provide for her.

      I love when God divinely orchestrates "circumstance." I've seen Him do it so many times, and it's always such an encouragement to our faith. Heck, it's how I ended up with my husband! We had dated when I was in high school, and he even took me to my senior prom. We parted ways, and 16 years later, our paths divinely crossed and we were engaged 6 weeks later.

      God gets all the glory in these situations!

      Thanks for sharing this testimony!

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      24 months ago from Midland MI

      Alan: You bring up a good point. God always leaves room for an alternative explanation. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I was boasting about giving, in fact, I don’t really view my story as an example of me giving period. Giving is definitely to be done in private and is something people should factor into their budgets as well as listen to the voice of God as He directs us in giving. My intention in this article was to give testimony to His goodness, His care for people, His kindness to us, and His willingness to work through people who Hear and obey His instruction. All glory and praise goes to Him because as Paul said, “in and of myself dwelleth no good thing.” Apart from Him we are nothing. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      Alan Masson 

      24 months ago

      The scriptures tell us to give anonymously - no fanfare or publicity. God obeys this rule - He never forces anyone to believe. We can all just say "it was coincience!" However, in our heart the Spirit hints.

      A guy was on his roof fixing the shingles on the steep roof of his two-story home. He started to slip and slide toward the gutter and an inevitable fall and injury. So he desperately prayed, "God help me!!!" Suddenly his belt caught on a nail that was not fully knocked in - and his slide stopped. So the guy retracted his request, saying, "God, don't worry - a nail saved me."

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      24 months ago from Midland MI

      haha- that crossed my mind too AB- AFTER I posted it. Good to hear from you. :)

    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      24 months ago from Central Florida

      Leland, I read through, got to the comments, wondered what's this about AB ... lol! I love this, thanks for sharing. I know that voice, well!

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      24 months ago from Midland MI

      That was an excellent response by the AB. Thanks for your positive comments, Liz!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      24 months ago from UK

      This is a great story. You could not have made it up. I once heard of an archbishop of Canterbury speaking to a sceptic, who described answered prayers as coincidences. The church man said 'All I know is that when I don't pray, the coincidences don't happen'.

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