It was the spring of the year 2000 and I was living in a little town in the Bay Area (California). Life was good! But I had no idea what was coming down the road… in several ways actually.
But jumpstart my prayer life? Oh yes, count me in. I bought the book.
Friends, I thought I had a strong faith in God, why, I had been a Christian all of my life! I was leading a Bible study designed to keep mothers encouraged and growing in their faith, had four children at home myself. But I always needed something to keep my prayer life motivated and meaningful. Still do.
The book changed my life as no other had before or since. It was not a ‘how to pray’ book, it was a ‘this is what happens when you pray’ book.
The setting was about as different as night to day from my existence in my safe little neighborhood with my sports carpool Suburban in the garage and roses in my garden. (My biggest problem living there was the deer who ate my roses—front yard and backyard…oh, and the punk high schoolers who thought our house was simply the best to toilet paper and cover in shaving cream) The book was about when life gets so real, so challenging, so difficult that you can’t stop praying! Emotions are constantly charged, there is no earthly help to be had and only God can step in and save; in fact, if he doesn’t . . well, can’t think about that.
Set on the rough inner city streets of Brooklyn, New York, the author chronicled miraculous stories of men rescued from criminal gangs, drug-addicted prostitutes set free; though in the book, the people have names and faces and personalities, their stories come alive! There are those caught in the stranglehold of black magic and the occult, the demon-possessed - all who come to know the way, the truth and the life, the beauty of relationship with Jesus Christ. But hear me—the work of God in their lives came through the simple, but desperate prayers of the faithful, and God came and did the miraculous.
Most times, I read a book—but this book, I devoured. I could not get enough of the miraculous stories! I carried the book in my car, in my purse, in my diaper bag… I could not be separated from it, snatching any bits of time to read what God was doing!
Then I applied the things I was learning in the book. I prayed more boldly.
I was no different than the people praying in New York, except somehow I realized their faith was bigger than mine—maybe because it had been tested and as a result, they prayed more, they prayed with greater assurance and they expected God to show up. And. He. Did.!
Explains why Lydia went outside the city to pray – down by the river.
Explains why Paul and Silas went outside the city to join her in prayer.
But stop for a moment and consider – Lydia was praying, but she didn’t know anything about the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, who helps us when we pray. Lydia was a Gentile, but nonetheless she was praying to the God of the Jews. She did not know about the life-changing, life-saving message of Jesus Christ and the possibility of knowing her heavenly Father herself! No, God sent Paul to tell her about Jesus; tell her, he did—believe, she did, and was baptized in that same river! In the preceding verses, Paul had been heading one direction and the Lord would stop him and point him in another direction. Planning to preach in one town, the Lord moved him instead to a different town, (all of the towns named), until eventually, there he was personally giving the life-saving message of Jesus to the wealthy woman from Philippi who traded in purple. Amazing.
Have you ever wondered what Lydia might have been praying about? I hadn’t. She wasn’t sick, she wasn’t poor, she wasn’t alone – she seemed to have no great need; except, she did. She had need of the Savior. God honored her prayers and went to great lengths to send her the best messenger, Paul.
What prayer are you praying?
Oh, wait – wait…. Perhaps you haven’t even dared pray for the thing that worries you, or maybe you’ve just given up praying. If God cared enough about Lydia to divert the greatest missionary at one place, then derail him at another, and deter him at a third – all to draw Lydia to himself – don’t you think he cares about you?
Don’t you think he will answer your prayers for those you love? (to be continued)
Here’s what I know:
God is faithful to the end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH-9DIlyjvc
Until the morrow,