"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow'-- when you now have it with you."
- Proverbs 3:27-28 NIV
A few months ago, my husband, Joe, got a call from his brother, who told him about a job position that was becoming available, and that he desperately wanted for his own. John is a father with two young children, and his current job was causing him to spend many days and nights apart from his family. I needed only to hear Joe's side of the phone conversation to know that this matter was a call for prayer, so I immediately began to silently pray that John would get this new position that he wanted. Before hanging up the phone, Joe turned to me and said, "John is asking us to pray about this situation." And I promptly replied, "Tell him that I've already begun!" Even though the odds were stacked against my brother-in-law getting that new position, the Lord made a way for him, and today, he's enjoying spending more time with his wife and children than ever before.
I may never know for sure if my prompt prayers opened the door for this small miracle to take place, but I believe with all my heart that they did. Often, when the need for prayer presents itself, the Holy Spirit gives us a gentle nudge, but we fail to act upon it, thinking we can easily put it off until later. Unfortunately, many times we forget to follow through because we get distracted and preoccupied with other things. But as followers of Christ, we are called to make prayer a priority in our lives, and to even "drop everything," if necessary, to respond in prompt obedience to the Lord. Sometimes, God WILL expect us to literally stop what we're doing and pray focused prayers. But usually, He'll only expect us to take "prayer pauses," and lift our petitions up to Him right in the midst of whatever we're doing at the time.
The prophet Nehemiah is an excellent example of how we can pray effectively anytime, anywhere. Nehemiah was in the middle of a conversation with his king, when he made a silent plea for divine help and favor. The prophet didn't miss a step as he spoke, prayed, and then spoke again. And we can follow his example in our day-to-day lives. For the believer, prayer should be like breathing. We should have such an intimate, interactive relationship with the Lord that it becomes second nature for us to pray spontaneously on a moment-by-moment basis. When we adopt this kind of lifestyle, we will discover God using us for His purposes more and more, and giving us great responsibilities and opportunities for service. Scripture tells us to be "faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12 NIV) And Jesus said: "Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones." (Luke 16:10 NLT) Clearly, the Lord expects us to be alert for occasions for prayer, and to be faithful to respond in prompt obedience. How we respond may determine whether or not God's will shall be done on this earth.
There have been times when I've considered delaying my response to a call for prayer, and the Lord has pricked my conscience with Solomon's words in Proverbs 3:27-28 (NIV): "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow'--when you now have it with you." Wherever we go, we carry with us the power to change lives and circumstances for all eternity, through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. We should never delay helping someone in prayer when it is always in our power to act on their behalf. Our prayer might take only a moment or two of our time, but it could make an eternal difference in someone's life. The Bible says: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16 NIV) We are righteous because of our devotion to Christ, and our prayers CAN make a difference. With that kind of awareness, we should respond with gratitude and obedience to God in every situation. Jesus said: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." (Matthew 7:12 NIV) One of the things that keeps me responsive to prayer needs is the notion that if I were the one in need, I would want others to be prompt to pray on my behalf. If you feel the same way that I do, may the Lord bring this message to your remembrance the next time He calls on you for prayer.
Prayer: Lord, give me a new awareness of the power I carry with me everywhere I go, and help me to make the most of it. Teach me to spend regular time in prayer and Scripture reading, so that I'll become increasingly sensitive to Your Spirit's leading. Thank You that as I am quick to respond to the prayer needs of others, You will bless, promote, and use me in greater ways!
- J. M. Farro