I sat quietly, listening to what for me, was one of the saddest comments I had heard for a long time.
“I don’t believe in intercessory prayer,” she said.
Her face was marked with deep lines and she looked years older than she was. Although she was not my superior, she did hold a position higher than me within the church. We had been discussing a problem that needed a positive solution—and sooner rather than later. I had suggested that we pray for God to intervene and take charge of the situation.
“I really don’t believe in intercessory prayer,” she repeated, somewhat emphatically this time. Perhaps it was the shocked look on my face or my silence that had led her to repeat the statement. “I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work,” she added.
“Did you ask for something specific?” I ventured.
“Yes, and I told you, it doesn’t work.” Her face was now hard and I moved the conversation back to the original discussion.
This conversation has stayed with me a long time; not just because it was an emotionally charged moment but because it presented a sadly inaccurate picture of our omniscient and omnipotent God.
Jesus promises, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9) So often we forget to ask. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
I have taken these promises to mean what they say and there have been some faith-inspiring results.
Years ago my 10-year-old dog, Fluffy, fell ill and was in considerable pain. A visit to the vet, a diagnosis of severe pancreatitis and the word “euthanise” had me in tears. Gently the vet moved her across to his side of the stainless-steel table. “It would be better to do it now. She’s in pain,” he prompted.
“I know, I know,” I choked out, “but I have to get used to the idea and my mum has to say goodbye to her as well.” I slid her back towards me.
My mum was not well and I thought that if the dog were to be put down then my mum’s recovery would be hampered. I took Fluffy home and mum and I prayed over her that she not be in pain and that she would be healed.
I then did everything humanly possible to “help”. Fluffy was allowed to sleep inside—in mum’s bedroom: two patients, one location. Her history of dietary indiscretion (a medical term meaning your dog will eat anything) became “history” and I fed her a low-fat diet and Vitamin B12. Anyone who has ever had to feed tablets to a dog that does not want them, will understand how I struggled. We prayed. And we prayed.
Fluffy, an inconsequential bitzer of a dog, was given seven extra years by the Creator of the Universe. She died quietly in her sleep at a time when both Mum and I were better able to cope. Thank you God.
So, now to the lost ring . . .
It is about 10pm and “cool” enough at 30 degrees to walk the two blocks to the corner store to buy some groceries. When I leave the apartment, I wear several rings. The emerald and diamond ring usually goes on my right ring finger but the desert heat has made my fingers swell up so that ring goes on my pinky. I take my time shopping as it is air-conditioned and I take my time walking back as the footpath is quite pitted, the bags heavy and the heat enervating. By the time I reach home I am glowing with perspiration. It is only after I have unpacked all the groceries and put the single-use carry bags in the bin that I notice the emerald ring is gone.
I search the kitchen, including the fridge, cupboards and bin, out to the front door, the hallway, the lift, the foyer. I speak to the concierge—nothing. I am now frantic.
I retrace my steps to the store, hopelessly looking on the dark uneven streets for the tiniest gleam of gold. I stop. I pray. Seeing people pray out in the street in a Muslim country is not unusual. I don’t feel out of place, I feel a sense of calm. God has this under control. I tell Him I understand the ring is not a matter of life and death; it is not an heirloom but it was expensive. If it is gone, it is gone. I will not replace it. I am at peace with whatever God decides.
I walk home content but now I will do everything humanly possible to help. I search the kitchen, including the fridge, cupboards and bin. I am looking in the last of the carry bags when I see a gold glint. The ring is caught in the fold at the bottom of the bag. I do not know when it fell there but I do know that it could have fallen off my finger in the street, in the store or anywhere in our building but it fell where I could find it again. I pick it up and thank God for this answer to prayer.
Some have suggested that my “helping” shows a lack of faith but if I had not looked again I would never have found the ring. The servants at the wedding feast filled the jars with water so that Jesus could perform His first miracle. I want to do my part so that He can continue to perform miracles to bring glory to His name.
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
Maria Simon retired three times but now manages an op shop in Queensland and lives in sunny (most of the time) NSW.