“But This Isn’t What I Prayed For”
“… so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)
One day, I was on my way to class when I saw one of my classmates crying while on the phone. I had just moved to the Northeast for graduate school and was having a hard time integrating my faith into new relationships. Maybe this is the opportunity I’ve been asking God for, I thought.
I waited for her to hang up and then approached her hesitantly, as if she were a deer that would run off if I spooked her. I sat next to her and asked what was wrong.
“It’s my pop, he’s having surgery today,” she said through her tears. It was hard for me to understand her--she was very upset and there was a slight language barrier between us.
From what I understood, her father was having surgery back home in China and she was understandably upset she couldn’t be there with him. I felt terrible. I couldn’t imagine my dad lying on a hospital bed while I was in a foreign country.
I questioned whether or not I should pray for her right in that moment, but doubt creeped into my mind. I don’t even know if she knows what prayer is. Will she be uncomfortable? Or worse, will she think I’m weird??
I said a quick prayer and decided to go for it: “I don’t know what you believe, but I believe in God. And I believe that God can heal your pop,” I said to her, pretty surprised at my sudden boldness. “I talk to God through prayer … do you mind if I pray to Him now?”
She nodded enthusiastically.
I began praying confidently, believing this was a conversation ordained by God. “Lord, I pray supernatural healing over her father--” I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“No, not my father,” she said. “My pop.”
I racked my brain for all the people in her life who could be called “pop.” Great, she probably already thought you were a crazy prayer lady, and now she thinks you don’t pay attention!
“Your grandfather?” I asked, hesitantly.
She spoke again. “No. My pup. My puppy.”
My entire body went numb. I’m supposed to pray for her sick dog? Completely embarrassed, I began praying again; this time, for her puppy, for the vets who would be handling the surgery and for her peace of mind. I was so caught off guard, I didn’t have time to think of any fancy words to use.
After I said “Amen,” she showed me pictures of her cute furry friend. I smiled at the photos, but still felt absolutely mortified at the change of events. God, what good is praying for a spunky little Papillon dog going to do?
Once we were done talking, she gave me a hug and thanked me, this time with a visible sense of calmness and relief.
In the moments before her hug, praying for a pet felt so silly and insignificant to me. But in the end, I saw a peace come over her that only my God could have provided.
Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
I was upset and embarrassed because I approached my classmate with my idea of what God’s purpose was for the conversation. When it didn’t pan out the way I imagined, I felt like my boldness had gone to waste.
I then realized this wasn’t about a dog, or how confidently I prayed or the type of cool, Christian impression I left on this girl … God used a simple prayer for a dog to show His love for one of His children. And He let me be a part of that assignment.
God will use us in small ways to make a big impression on behalf of His Kingdom … we just have to be willing to follow His lead. God won’t waste our efforts, no matter how big or small those efforts may feel to us.
These steps can be uncomfortable, and sometimes our efforts feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But together, as we all take these small steps side-by-side, we are able to make such a great, eternal impact on the world around us. One that will bring God glory.
Lord, thank You for letting me be a part of Your great purpose. Help me see the ones around me who need Your loving reminder, and show me ways in my life that I can impact Your Kingdom for the better. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (NIV)