God uses our prayers to do more than we can begin to imagine.
Soon after my husband began his ministry to a small church in Ohio, one of the Sunday School classes invited us and our two junior high age daughters to their class party at an Amish style restaurant near Wooster, Ohio. Half way through our meal, we noticed our server was on the verge of tears. She apologized and explained. A close friend had been abducted at the local county fair and no one knew of her whereabouts. The abduction had been all over the news but our server’s anguish made the story personal.
Dave, the teacher of the class, told the server that our group was a Sunday School class. A smile spread over the girl’s bedraggled face. She and her abducted friend belonged to a youth group at a church with whom our church was affiliated. Dave offered to pray for the server’s friend. “Chuck” had to check on other customers, but she promised to come back.
When she got a break in her serving, she returned to our private dining room. Dave and my husband put their hands on her and led us in prayer. Tears streaming down her face, she thanked us profusely.
Tragically, the friend was found in a shallow grave a few days later. Members of the class often talked about the young lady who served us, wondering how she was doing, how she was coping with the loss of a close friend in such a tragic way. Women came to me, wishing we could find out how our little waitress was doing but didn’t know how to connect with her. I assured them that God knew and we should just keep praying. Since our small village was forty miles from the restaurant we went to that night, we knew the likelihood of finding out the rest of the story was nearly impossible.
We were wrong. Fast forward ten months to a Sunday afternoon the following summer. My younger daughter was nervous about attending junior high church camp at a strange camp for the first time. She missed her friends. She didn’t know anyone. She missed the familiarity of our church camp in North Carolina. We assured her she would make new friends, but as we drove away, we were anxious for her and spent the week praying.
When we picked her up on Friday, her face was glowing.
“You’ll never believe what happened,” she told us. About the second night, the girls in her cabin stayed up late. The dorm mom, a young woman who had just graduated from high school, told the girls how she had faced tough times during high school yet in those times, she saw how God carried her through. She told the story of how she had lost a close friend who was abducted then murdered. She told how her church youth group drew closer together because of the tragedy and how strangers showed love and care not just for her murdered friend but for her as well.
“In fact,” she told the group, “I was a server at this local restaurant and one day, when we still didn’t know what had happened to my friend, this church group came to eat at the restaurant and they prayed for me. From that point, I felt God’s peace and knew He was in charge.”
My daughter gasped. “That was my church. I was there that night.” And she told the story from her vantage point. There was not a dry eye in the group.
Coincidence? I hardly think so. Our daughter’s verification of the story made it real for the group of girls. They witnessed God’s power to care for us even in the worst of times. The conversations that night went to a far deeper level as the girls openly shared what they were facing in their lives.
Who needs your prayers? How can you use prayer as a tool in expressing the love and grace of God to a friend or stranger? Dare to go beyond the easy, pat, “I’ll pray for you.” Like Dave, take the time to pray with them. You may never know this side of eternity the profound impact of your partnership in prayer.