Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prayer Works

In recent weeks I've been trying to write down my prayers more, as well as things that God is teaching me. Because I've come to realize that I'm a forgetful person. I resonate pretty well with the Israelites who seem so foolish and ignorant and ungrateful for what God did for them, such as in Exodus:
"When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptions, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses...

"But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. 'Why did you bring us out of Egypt. Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?"...

"After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, 'Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven." Moses built an altar there..."

This is just one example of the many, many times in the Old Testament when God provided, saved, or did an astonishing miracle. Then His people were filled with awe and faith and trust, only to forget and complain shortly thereafter, lacking faith in what God could do. There are also multiple instances like that above of God commanding his people to write something down, create an altar, or leave something to remind them of what he had done. He knows we're forgetful, that we lose faith. And that we beg and plead with petitions and wishes, but when he answers we either don't praise him because we forget that we even asked, or we praise him and then forget what he's done as soon as something hard happens again. I see myself do this way more than I would like to admit; which is why I'm finally learning to discipline myself to write it down, commemorate, or do anything that will help me remember and continue to turn to him with my requests and with faith. Heck, I even went so far as to get a tattoo recently as a constant and permanent reminder of important lessons that God has taught me about brokenness, humility, healing, and serving the broken-hearted for his name and glory.

All of that to say, I write this post in recognition of ways that God has worked mightily through the prayers from and on behalf of the Broken Hearts ministry. In ways that I either forget, or was never even aware of.

This week was probably the first time since I've been going that we didn't start the night at Del Taco for prayer. All of us, including friends, 'Ravi' and 'Azul', arrived and parked in the same place at the same time - down the dark steet halfway between Del Taco and our bible study location. As conversation proceeded, we naturally conveined where we were at.
As we circled up and began bringing up prayer requests, light rain drops began to fall, as they had been sporadically all day...

Azul - who we met a long time ago but has recently been coming out regularly to spend time with us - shared with us his prayer requests. But more than that, and all evening long, he shared his praises. Last week we had prayed for him - for his relationship with his parents, for transportation, ability to manage his activities, and to be able to get through his current trials and tribulations. This week when he arrived, he had a car, told us he was living with parents, that his recent audition had gone well, and basically that all of his prayer requests had been answered. He couldn't have been more excited or expressive about his appreciation. And as we shared prayer requests, he said something about how when our team prays, that God listens and answers; the sense that if we pray about something it will likely happen.

That was new to me, I'd never heard anything like that from anyone before. It was awesome to hear, but I guess I still had some skepticism due to his optimism; maybe he just thought that because these issues had worked out this time.

But then Jeremiah broke in and said, "Seriously, when we prayed that my kids be able would move to Orange County, the next week they were able to." Antquan followed saying, "yeah, actually, I was just thinking about how we've prayed for 3 different people who have been cured of cancer." Wow. In past months we had prayed for people's relatives or friends within the ministry - one of them ended up not having cancer, one is finishing radiation but the cancer is gone, and the other had been healed.

Then the rain made me think back to one of the most miraculous stories that Broken Hearts has, which I'm not sure I've ever written about on here. When the ministry first started with just 3 or 4 people, (before I was ever involved), they said it would rain all the time. It got in the way of ministry, people wouldn't come out as much, and was a big discouragement. So they prayed that when they were out there God would cease the falling rain. And just like God stopped the rain for 3 and a half years in the time of Elijah: "As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives - the God I serve - there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!"(1 Kings 17 & 18), he stopped the rain in Hollywood on Thursday nights. After the team first prayed against the rain - though it might be raining on the way there, or everywhere nearby - when they set out for ministry the rain would stop. It might come back as soon as they got in their cars to go home, but it never rained while they were on the streets. I witnessed this myself in the first year that I was in the ministry; it never rained while we were there, even if the streets were still wet from a shower we'd just missed, or if it rained the whole way there but stopped near Santa Monica blvd. Sometime after my first year - about 3 and a half years after the team had presented their request to God, it rained during 3 or 4 different nights over the next few months while we were on the street. And since those nights, it hasn't rained again.

The rain drops were very light this night as they had been all day...but before we were done praying, they had stopped. And as we drove home, rain covered the windshield on the freeway, but the time we were out it was perfectly clear- even warm!

I'm sure if I sat and thought about it and tried to remember the many answers to prayer that I've forgotten, I would think of many more times that God has heard our prayers for others and for ministry and answered 'yes'. What an encouragement, especially since I often feel like God disregards my prayers for those on the street; and as someone who often lacks the faith to truly believe God will answer God-sized prayers.

And if he's answering those kinds of things, couldn't it be that he's doing so much more that we're completely oblivious to or just can't know about? I think so...

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