I just listened to a message on my answering machine from someone we’ve been praying for who needed some tests done. Pretty serious stuff and a little bit of anxiety. Well, the news was good and the voice on the machine sounded suitably relieved! You’ve got to love a message like that.
Just that moment of joy and the chance to thank God for His care also made me realize that I don’t get to find out what happens to a lot of people for whom we pray. Our petitions for help and healing far outweigh our prayers of thanks and praise.
That’s one of the reasons I keep a list of prayers in the back of my daily devotional journal. That way, I can go back and remember what I prayed for a week or months ago. I would say nine times out of ten, something has happened in that situation, and I become aware of God’s response to a prayer. Without that list, I’d forget, wouldn’t think about the response, and would miss out on seeing God at work in our lives. It’s definitely a faith-building experience when your petitions are replaced by thanks and praise rather than just more petitions.
I do this when I teach prayer in confirmation class, too. We post our prayers on a bulletin board and revisit them each week to see what’s happened. I am just as amazed as the students at all the answers. Of course, not every issue is resolved. Some things remain in our ongoing prayers, but that’s OK, too. Our persistent prayers remind us of our dependence on God and his grace, and build our endurance, character, and hope.