Saturday, September 23, 2017

Answered Prayer

Photo by Presearch 2011

How blessed we are as Christians to come boldly before Christ’s throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)! There we find His mercy and grace that we so desperately need! He hears our prayer requests 24/7 (Psalm 143:1), provided our heart is right with Him and we are praying in His will (Luke 22:42), rather than to satisfy our foolish lusts (James 4:2-3).

Praise God for prayer warriors who intercede for us in prayer, knowing that where two or more are gathered in His Name, He is in our midst, and that if we agree in prayer, the Father will accomplish it for us (Matthew 18:19-20).

The events of this past week have been a blessed reminder that God answers our prayers, and that He gives Christians the unique privilege of being part of His answer to prayer. He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). He is working behind the scenes to bring all things together for good for those who love Him, for their ultimate well-being and His glory to accomplish His purpose for each of our lives (Romans 8:28).

As my husband Richard and I flew from Tampa, FL to Dallas, TX to dance in five shows in a major theatre production as part of our dance ministry, the airport was already packed at 5AM and there was no empty seat on our flight. Many in Florida left the state because of concerns regarding Hurricane Irma. When we took off, the projected path was up the east coast of Florida, so we had not prepared extensively as we live on the west coast.

But by the time we landed, the storm path had shifted and was headed straight for Tampa! On its way, it was forecast to pass through a coastal city where Richard’s sister lives on the water, and our son’s home was projected to be at least six feet under water if there were any storm surge.

While praying fervently, we wondered if we should return home to help our family and secure our property. But then we realized that God had long before planned and arranged for us to be exactly where we were, not only safe from the storm, but going obediently through the door He had opened to bless others through our dance ministry.

To abandon His plan would be to give the victory to Satan, when we know that the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47; 2 Chronicles 20:15) and that we have sure victory in God’s Son Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Our hearts sank as we discussed constantly changing evacuation plans with our son and Richard’s sister. We invited both their families (and pets!) to stay at our house, further inland and at a higher elevation from their homes, but the congested traffic and unavailability of gas prevented Richard’s sister from doing that. Our son’s wife was traveling out of state, but our son agreed to weather the storm at our house with his dog and cat.

Although our minds and bodies were very active with constant rehearsing in Dallas, our hearts were with our family and home. Yet what a blessing as Christians in our midst bathed us in prayer, both in our presence and also by enlisting their churches, choirs, and prayer chains to pray for us.

They were bearing our burden (Galatians 6:2) and helping us to lift up our arms in prayer when we felt we could not do it alone (Exodus 17:12). Despite the constantly worsening weather reports, we were able to experience the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and joy in His salvation (Psalm 21:1; 35:9; 51:12; Isaiah 61:10; Habakkuk 3:18).

One of our dear friends in Dallas told us that he prayed specifically that our son would not have to spend the night of the storm alone, as he knew from personal experience how frightening that can be. Later that afternoon, our son texted us that he had gone to a friend’s house that was newer and more storm-resistant than ours, and that he and the pets would stay there with his friend’s family. Praise God for this very specific answer to prayer, and for our friend’s discernment to ask for this in faith!

Hurricane Irma was still headed directly for Tampa with winds in excess of 100 mph and predicted storm surge of 10-12 feet all along the west coast of Florida. We feared the worst but knew that God is in control, that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and that He would not allow any harm to befall us unless it was part of His perfect plan (Job 1:12).

At what seemed to be the last minute, but was in fact in God’s perfect timing, the storm veered off slightly to the east, making a small circular detour around the heavily populated city of Tampa. In general, the winds and storm surge were far less than had been predicted.

What a relief to learn that our son, his friends, and Richard’s sister and her family were all safe; that our home and our son’s home experienced no harm other than a few tree branches down; that our church and all those it sheltered were unharmed; and that our business had no flooding or even loss of power!

Our hearts and prayers are with those who did not fare as well with Harvey and Irma, and especially with those in Puerto Rico and still in the path of Maria. We can’t pretend to understand why God allows such devastation, but we can trust Him to provide, protect and restore.

Whatever befalls us here on earth, we who have trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) have the blessed hope (Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3), meaning sure anticipation, of eternal joy with Him and our loved ones in Him! Meanwhile, He has appointed each of His children to be His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20), His hands, feet and voice in this troubled world (Romans 10:15; Luke 12:11-12).

We were humbled and blessed by our brothers and sisters in Christ ministering to us through prayer and encouragement in this trial. We felt that we were in the midst of a loving family, even though we had met most of them only twice before, for a few short days a year apart. Yet their ministry continued in surprising ways, as did God using them to answer prayer, as we shall see next week!  

May we learn from the example of our fellow prayer warriors to lift one another up in prayer, bear their burdens (Galatians 6:2), and so fulfill the law of Christ! 

© 2017 Laurie Collett


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Prayer in the Storm

Dear Lord,
You are the Shepherd of the seas (1 Peter 5:4), Master of the winds (Luke 8:24), our Rock, Tower, and Refuge (2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:2). Nothing is too hard for You. You spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1); You parted the Red Sea (Isaiah 63:11); You made the sun stand still to protect Your people (Joshua 10:12). 

We beg You, Abba Father, to restrain this storm from harming Your children and those who one day will become Your children. May the power of this storm draw all to recognize You as Lord and Savior and lead them to trust in Your death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

Your arm is not too short to help us, and You have promised never to leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). You made us; You carry us; and You will deliver us (Isaiah 46:4).

When Abraham pleaded with You to spare his city, You told him that you would spare it if there were even a single righteous person within (Genesis 18). We know that all have sinned and fallen short of Your glory (Romans 3:23), and that there is none righteous based on their own merit (Isaiah 41:26; Romans 3:10). 

Yet Your children are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Your Son (Isaiah 61:10). We claim His precious blood to wash away our sins, make us righteous in Your sight, and thereby allow us into Your ark of perfect peace and safety (Romans 3:25; Genesis 5-10).

Isaiah 41:10  Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Before You left this earth You spoke of roaring and perplexity in the seas (Luke 21:25) as a sign of Your imminent return, along with so many other signs of the times that are now coming to pass (Matthew 24). 

May You give us the courage, hope and boldness to look up, for our redemption draws nearer with each passing day (Luke 21:28). May we keep our eyes fixed on You, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), Who can empower us even to walk on water if we follow You in childlike faith (Matthew 14:29).

Father, we pray for safety for our lives, those of our families, loved ones, church families, workplaces, schools, and communities. We pray Your hand of protection over our homes, sanctuaries, businesses, properties. 

Yet we trust You to work all things together for our ultimate good and Your glory (Romans 8:28), according to Your perfect wisdom and Your will. We may not understand Your actions, but we yield to Your perfect will (Luke 22:42), for You are our Cup and Portion (Psalm 16:5), and You are All we need.

Lord, give us wisdom, guidance, and the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). May we be Your light in this storm and in all the storms of life, and help others, show them Your love, and encourage them to trust You. Please show us Your mercy, love and grace in this storm and always.

In Jesus’ precious Name,

© 2017 Laurie Collett