There are times we pray and we do not see anything. It is only by faith we continue in prayer, believing God is working something we cannot see at the time. However, there are other magnificent times when God lets us see Him answer prayers in real time. Yesterday, I was recounting one of those stories to a couple of friends.
I had just finished college and some friends and I were on a trip overseas sharing God’s good news. After arriving in the provincial capital we took a six to eight-hour bumpy van ride to a rougher border town high on the steppes of Asia. The hotel had a sauna we visited, but we soon realized it was a rather seedy place.
Over the next few days we explored the city and tried to meet people, but it was as though the city was closed to us. People stared and people talked about us, but we could not get into a decent conversation with anyone. We were in the city, but the city was closed to us.
After a day or two of this we realized it was not going to work and we needed to change tactics. So the next day we split up into groups of two and prayer-walked the town. It was probably the most effective Spirit-led prayer walk I have ever had before or since. As my friend Dave and I walked down the streets we seemed to have no lack of words or things to lift up before God. (We also found ourselves holding sample products and taking pictures at a business opening, but that is another story.)
That night we went back to the square and it was like a completely different town. We were meeting people. People liked us. God had opened the doors of the city to us.
That night we met a Mongolian teenage girl named Gowa. There was one girl in our group, Brook, who lived in this country and so she and Gowa went off around the square to look at things and to visit. After a while the guys and I all kind of got tired and were about ready to wind up the evening and go to the hotel.
The two girls were still off visiting, when all of the sudden I got this strong sense that we should pray for Gowa and Brook. I told this to the guys and we begin to pray.
Meanwhile over on the other side of the square Brook had tried several times to turn the conversation to spiritual things, but each time Gowa had seemed uninterested and would change the topic. Brook looked over toward our group and thought, “It looks like they are praying.” (Mind you, we were not bowing our heads or holding hands as that would have been the wrong action in the middle of the city square.)
Brook realized we were praying and then turned back to her conversation with Gowa. From out of the blue, Gowa turns to Brook and says with all sincerity, “How can I believe in Jesus?”
Gowa became our sister in the Lord that day, and I can trace it back very directly to prayer. First our prayer-walk through the city, second our prayer right before Gowa asked about Jesus. It was awesome and we were all pumped up about it. We encouraged her while we were there, and then Brook stayed in contact with her after we left.
I have always been grateful for that trip and for the clear evidence of God directing us to pray and then to His answer of our prayers. As I write this it makes me wonder why I do not pray more often. I think it is because often I do not see the answers to my prayers. It is much harder to pray when we are only able to see the results through faith.
As we rejoiced in the border town that day, I am sure there were other people whose prayers had an effect on Gowa, but the majority of them never saw it. There were all the people back in America who were praying for us. There were the prayers of the missionaries who had lived and traveled through those areas over a hundred years ago without having much fruit.
Our prayers have a huge impact on the Kingdom of God. Sometimes God is kind and allows us to see their results, but often times we can only see the results by faith. We need to spend more time doing just that. Praying and praying and praying… even when we do not see results… praying and believing that God is answering our prayers even when we do not see the results with our eyes.
What is the number one thing you could do to start praying more?