In a conversation I had this week, we were talking about how do we know if what we do and say really has any impact on how other people live their lives.
After that conversation, I read an article by Professor Mike Gough (Mid America Nazarene University) that spoke to exactly that issue. It really struck a cord with me. It’s made me stop and think if I have thanked the people in my life who I felt were an answer to my prayers. It’s also made me wonder if I am making myself available enough to be an answer to someone else’s prayer, and how can my past experiences be a help for others to see a way forward.
A couple of years ago during the prayer time of a Sunday school class, a woman requested prayer for her friend’s daughter who had been badly injured in an accident during their vacation. She described some of the situation. Then, as a praise to the situation, she mentioned that the nurse who helped the family that day had been a real answer to prayer. That little phrase took on new meaning. How had that nurse been an answer to their prayers and the woman even know it?
As an emergency room nurse, that day probably wasn’t all that different for her. She probably faced multiple emergencies every day. It was a normal day for her while for the injured girl’s family it was anything but normal. The person who requested the prayer identified some of the characteristics of the nurse that day.
- She had been very professional in giving quality care for their daughter.
- She had communicated well with the family as she would talk to them in the waiting room and describe what procedures were being used and what they meant.
- She also added another characteristic to her description. The nurse had cared for the hearts of the family members as they faced uncertainty about their daughter. They felt comforted as the nurse cared for them and felt reassured with the professionalism of the nurse.
Over the years, I have often thought about that phrase—they were an answer to our prayers. Was this a day that God especially blessed the nurse to care for the family or was it just a normal day for her? My guess is that it was a normal day. But what went into that day? Maybe that morning, as with most mornings, she arose a little early and spent time with God asking Him to use her that day. From experience she knew that each day would hold a crisis for someone and that she needed God’s strength to help her. She met with God to help her be ready for the day.
In order for her to be an answer to someone’s prayer, the story started years earlier. Perhaps, sometime as a child or a teenager, she met Jesus. Maybe God used a Sunday school teacher as an answer to her parents’ prayer. Somewhere along the way she began her walk with God.
Then, at some point, she felt led to go into nursing. I can imagine her in her dorm room some nights when her friends went to the mall or to a movie and she stayed in to study.
Maybe one time as she studied into the night she read about proper emergency room procedures and became interested in becoming an ER nurse. She studied hard, completed her clinicals and passed her boards.
Still, she followed God as He led her to her first position, growing professionally and spiritually. Then one day, a girl from Kansas was injured while on vacation. The nurse was prepared to be an answer to someone’s prayer that day. Her readiness was years in the making.
The person who influenced her was an answer to prayer and the one before that and the one before that. God prepares us to be answers to prayer. She had been faithful to study and learn and grow. In reality, she was probably an answer to someone’s prayer every day. She made a big difference that day in the life of a family from Kansas. (Their daughter did get better after several weeks.)
Jesus certainly wants us to be an answer to someone’s prayer. We all know that the way to heaven is by salvation through the repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Painted in Matthew 25 is an interesting picture concerning the great judgment. When all the people are gathered before Jesus, He separates them to His right and left (the sheep and goats). To those on the right, He says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
Jesus then goes on to explain why He is pleased with them. They had cared for the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick and the prisoners. The ones on the left were told they never cared for these people. Those on the right had been the answers to the prayers of the less fortunate. Jesus says that when anyone cares for “the least of these” they are caring for Jesus himself. The ones on the right had become answers to the prayers without even knowing it. It had become such a way of life that they helped others as a natural part of their daily life.
The New Testament is full of verses that mention “one another.” We are urged to love one another, restore one another, forgive one another, build up one another, pray for one another, and encourage one another.
Are we being answers to someone’s prayers?
- A good accountant can be an answer to someone’s prayers.
- A good first grade teacher can be an answer to someone’s prayers.
- A good car mechanic can be an answer to someone’s prayer.
- A friend who listens can be an answer to someone’s prayers.
The list goes on and on. God can use any of us to be an answer to someone’s prayers. We may have experiences which may seem insignificant at the time or perhaps experiences that break our heart and seem to last forever. God may use that experience to enable us to help others with their journeys. On that particular day, God used a specific nurse to be an answer to a specific family in a time of crisis.
Am I ready today to be an answer to someone’s prayer? Am I allowing God to teach me and strengthen me? Am I being disciplined to learn and grow in my profession? Am I being available each day for God to use me?
May we begin each day with the prayer that God could use you and me to be an answer to someone’s prayer.
Think about it:
Remind yourself: Have you thanked someone who was an answer to your prayer?
Ask: What can I do to make myself available to be an answer to someone’s prayer?
Consider: How can my past experiences be of help to someone else?