Sorry it has been a while since posting. I promise that I have wanted to write, but I was badly knocked down by a kidney stone–yes, a tiny pebble in my gears completely brought me down–followed by a month of travel.
Before the break we covered strategic giving to God’s work and now I want to get back to strategic prayer. A few posts back I introduced you to CJ, the best prayer warrior that I have ever met, and I want to tell you another story demonstrating how she used prayer, as a weapon, to fight for God’s purposes.
We had been living in Pakistan for just one year when CJ came to join us as a nurse. We lived in the foothills of the Himalayas, about four hours from the capital, where few foreigners were allowed to live. Like all countries, Pakistan tried to keep track of its foreigners and they did this through a “Foreigner Registration Office (FRO).”
About every six weeks our family drove with CJ down the mountain, spending a few days in Islamabad to buy groceries and goods, and we were supposed to check in with the FRO before and after travel. But, to be honest, I found that living in Pakistan presented so many new ideas and rules that, sometimes, I didn’t remember about the FRO regulation until we were hours out of town.
The guy that ran the office was quite surly and always treated me like a dog. He yelled at me for not checking in, he yelled at me for not checking in enough days in advance, or he yelled at me because he didn’t like foreigners in his country.
On one occasion, when we were all going into the big city for some shopping, I forgot about the Foreign Registration Office again and dropped by on the way out of town. The mean guy-in-charge was there and was in a horrible mood. He gave me a terrible time for not checking in the requisite forty-eight hours in advance and berated me in every way that he could. I withstood it, with my head hung low, and finally returned to the car feeling beat up.
As we drove out of town I told my wife about the experience while CJ listened on. “He is giving you problems?” she asked with her heavy Korean accent. “No problem. I will pray him out,” and she turned her face to the car window and silently moved her lips for most of the long drive.
The time in Islamabad was great. We ate at some restaurants, the girls didn’t have to be so conservative in their dress and we bought precious bagged milk and ground beef. The time was so delightful, in fact, that I forgot all about the humiliating experience with the bad-tempered FRO boss and CJ’s comment about praying him out.
After three days, we returned to our home town and, after dropping off the family, I went to the FRO office to check back in. As I walked through the door the secretary was sitting behind the boss’s desk and rose to greet me. “Dr. Charles,” he said shaking my hand, “I want to apologize for the way the old boss in this office has treated you. He was not a nice man and he was fired. I am the boss now, and this office will always treat you with respect from this day forward. And, there is no need for you to come in here whenever you travel. Just give me a call, even if you are already in Islamabad, to let me know where you are.”
I have reflected on this story numerous times and have learned so much from it. The point I wanted you to see, though, is that God works through prayer for his mission, so we need to be using it, in the same way that CJ did, to remove the obstacles preventing world evangelization. Governments, religions and social structures can be bulldozed over through prayer, so let’s get to it. Pray for missionaries that you know, for the Church that sends them, and for the movement of the gospel to all peoples.
So what: I’ve got to be honest with you on this. I don’t believe God even answers personal prayers when the person praying isn’t living for his purposes. If you are your own lord, then it is up to you to answer your own prayers. You can’t have it both ways–wanting to be lord of your own life, but then asking God to give you stuff like a gum-ball machine.
When you are living your life for him, though, then he will doing even seemingly small things in answer to prayer; things so personal and touching like you see in the above story. These are the true treasures of life.