I grew up going to church every Sunday morning and evening, as well as Wednesday evenings. We very seldom missed. My dad, however, never went.
My mom took my sister and I to church from the time we were babies. But, dad did not even attend for special events, like the year I played the mayor of Lonestar Gulch in the children’s Christmas play.
As I grew in spiritual maturity I began to realize what that meant: my dad didn’t have Jesus in his heart. And if there is a heaven, and I do believe there is, then there had to be a hell and that is where my dad would go if he died. I must have been about 8 and it shattered my world.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.” -Corrie ten Boom[/pullquote]
I started earnestly praying for my dad’s salvation. I knew that other people, like my mom, were praying as well, but as the years rolled by with no sign of my prayer being answered, I got discouraged. I wasn’t even able to imagine my dad as a Christian.
Then things changed. I had stayed up late watching the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team win gold at the 1996 Olympics. It was such a feat and I was so excited. But, as I laid down to go to sleep, I started feeling very sick to my stomach. A vision of my dad in hell came to my mind. My stomach was so upset that I moved to the bathroom for fear I would throw up.
It was in the bathroom very early that morning I prayed as I never had before for my dad’s salvation. I silently cried out to God. I pleaded with him. As I prayed, the feeling started to ease until it completely went away. That feeling of unease was replace with a feeling of peace.
It was the Holy Spirit who showed up in my house that night. I have no doubt about that. He interfered with my physical comfort so together we could engage in some supernatural work. I needed to be reminded that it was only God who could bring my dad to Jesus. I had to trust that He wouldn’t give up on my dad.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. -John 15:7
It can be hard when you have been praying for something for quite a while without getting an answer. If you’ve watched Finding Nemo, you are probably familiar with Dory’s catchphrase: “Just keep swimming.” For Christians, we need to flip the saying. If we were to just keep swimming, wouldn’t that be putting a reliance on ourselves? So, tweak it to “Just keep praying.”
Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker, writes that we never know when we are just one prayer away from a miracle.
How many miracles have we missed because we have given up praying for them?
Think about Abraham and Sarah. Do you think they ever stopped asking God for a child? What about Joseph? Do you think he stopped praying for God to deliver him? What if he had given up? Would the Israelites have perished in the famine? History is full of examples of people having to “pray through” to get their answers.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]History is full of examples of people having to “pray through” to get their answers.[/pullquote]
Many people spent years and decades praying for my dad’s salvation. Just short of two years after that Olympic prayer in the bathroom, my dad walked the aisle during an altar call at church and asked Jesus into his heart. Seriously. He started attending church with my mom while I was away for my freshman year of college. I love looking back at all the little things that God did to bring my dad to him. His salvation is a testament to praying through.
I have found myself deep in another situation requiring me to “just keep praying.” For four years I have been praying for answers, clarification, revelation. Remembering God’s faithfulness is helping me to remember to not give up.
Whatever you are praying for, remember, first and foremost, God loves you. He wants the best for you. And whether it is yes, no or keep waiting, He will answer your prayer when the time is right.