The first prayer, that required faith, that I prayed fervently as a Christian was for my dad’s salvation.
I say it required faith because I was completely unsure of whether God could answer it or not, whether my dad could turn his heart towards God and accept Jesus.
I remember my youth minister encouraging me to have hope and pray for my dad. I know my mom was praying too.
A couple things happened that got my dad’s attention. One thing was that he began carpooling to work with a guy from our church. Those 45 minute drives back and forth opened a lot of opportunities for seeds to be planted.
The guy from our church was Jerry Normand. He was an important figure in my life. He witnessed to my dad. He introduced me to my husband. He encouraged me when my faith was low. He stood in our wedding. Jerry went to be with the Lord in 2009, and I’ll always be thankful for how God used him to help me turn corners that now define my life.
The other thing that got my dad’s attention was a health issue. My dad was experiencing vertigo at work, to the point of ambulances being called. He had ringing in his ears and severe periods of dizzy spells with exhaustion and nausea.
The doctors diagnosed him with Meniere’s disease. His recommended course of treatment was surgery. They would remove one of his equilibriums from behind his ear, and the other equilibrium would take over for both sides.
The doctor let him know that this surgery was as serious as brian surgery, since they would be drilling a small hole into the part of the skull behind his ear.
This kind of statement caused thoughts of God to no longer be far off and uncritical. My dad was reminded of how close we all skate to the edge of death every day of our lives. We foolishly believe that we don’t need to address eternal questions until some day when we are old and grey.
My dad was only 39 or 40, only a few years older than I am now.
Our church did something that turned my dad’s beliefs about church and pastors upside down. They took up a love offering for him. They knew my dad would be missing work and would have extra medical bills.
One Sunday night, as we were at our kitchen table eating dinner, the doorbell rang. A few men from the church brought in the money and gave it to my dad.
There are so many reasons our church could have justified not reaching out in this monetary way. One, my dad wasn’t a member of the church or even a Christian. Two, they knew my parents spent money on ungodly things like beer and tobacco. His carpool buddy could have testified to that. And three, we were in the insignificant middle of our community. We were no one important. We had nothing to offer. But we weren’t necessarily “the poor” either.
I know that that gift from those believers made a difference in my dad’s story.
My dad had his surgery and recovered well. He now can make his famous joke, “I need that (fill in the blank) like I need ANOTHER hole in my head.”
A few weeks after his stitches were removed and life was settling back to normal, I had slept in on a Sunday morning. My mom and little brothers had left for Sunday school without me. I might have been being rebellious or I might have stayed up too late the night before watching tv.
My dad came in and told me to get up because we were going to church. I jumped out of bed. I couldn’t believe it.
Here I was ignoring God, staying home on a Sunday morning, and God was busy answering my seemingly unanswerable prayer.
My mom couldn’t believe it when my dad and I walked in a joined her pew. It was honestly a miracle that he was there.
Our praying continued. My dad attended church for about 6 months before one Sunday night in December of 1992, I was singing Christmas songs in the choir, and my dad went forward to pray to receive Jesus as his Savior.
My clearest memory of that night was how blurry my eyes got when I was fighting back tears watching him walk to the front of the church and pray with our pastor.
God had asked me to ask him for something, my dad’s salvation.
As I was thinking about writing this story this morning. I begin to question myself, when was the last time I had prayed prayers that I was completely unsure could be answered? Immediately three different instances popped into my mind of prayers I prayed this week.
I am thankful that as I have grown older that I have not let go of my childlike wonder of what God can accomplish.
But honestly it is something I’ve had to fight for. I have caught myself wording prayers in way that is “safer” or already answered without God even getting involved. When I catch myself doing this, I feel like I’m talking to myself, and God wants me to talk to Him.
That might be a good barometer of your faith life to ask yourself that same question, when was the last time you prayed a prayer that you were completely unsure could be answered? Let me just give a disclaimer that this not something I got from scripture. It’s only a thought meant to lead you to deeper faith in a God that is trustworthy and capable of miracles.
If God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you want and ask Him to, this isn’t a slight on your relationship with God. Just the fact that you are willing to ask God, trust God, and depend on God says way more about your relationship. We can never understand, on earth, the reasons behind God’s workings. It is foolish to try.
The asking is the key.
Be willing to ask God for anything.