God amazes me with his answers to prayer. Let me share one example. My mother lives in a nursing home in Albuquerque, far from my sisters and me. She has macular degeneration and has been legally blind for seven or eight years. Recently her vision deteriorated further and she lost the ability to read large print books. She was very discouraged, especially because she couldn’t read her Bible.
About that time, my mom’s roommate died. I prayed for her next roommate to be a good fit. A few days later her new roommate, Donna, answered the phone when I called. She told me she’d served as a missionary in Indonesia and had read to blind people. I asked if she would read to my mother. She said they had already talked about that. I had prayed for a kind roommate and God provided someone who can read to my mom. No wonder the apostle Paul describes God as the one “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20).
God’s astonishing power and his gracious answers to prayer encourage me to pray instead of worrying. My mom’s new roommate is only one answer to recent prayers. Some answers have come almost immediately—a friend’s daughter who was facing a 90-day residential treatment program for substance abuse issues improved the day my small group prayed for her, so she can be treated as an outpatient. Other answers have taken longer, teaching me to persevere in prayer.
I’ve started praying about issues at work also. For example, I helped coworkers develop a complex database. At one point we hit a brick wall. No matter what we tried, we couldn’t get certain fields in the data entry form to automatically fill. Our frustration level skyrocketed. On the way home I prayed about the problem. A day or two later I woke up in the middle of the night with the phrase “auto-fill” in my mind. I wrote the phrase down, did a Google search the next morning and found detailed instructions with a worked example. Those were sufficient to show us how to redesign the tables and their relationships and produce a query that worked. This sort of thing has happened so often lately that both my supervisor and I recognize that Romans 8:28 is true: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him….”
Knowing that God can solve problems I can’t has set me free from much worry. Paul’s words to the early Christians at Philippi are spot on: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7, The Message).
As Christ becomes the center of my life, my natural pessimism is giving way to a brimming optimism. God truly can accomplish far more than anything I can ask or imagine.