God Answers Prayer in Surprising Ways
At one point, I committed to praying on a weekly basis for several of my friends and family to come to faith in Yeshua as their savior. I did so for six months. Once I started praying, I began looking for signs of a change in their spiritual perspectives, and for opportunities to speak with them about Yeshua. This story is another example of how prayer changes not only the lives of those for whom the prayer is offered, but the one praying as well.
During those six months, I saw miraculous things. My boss suddenly had a breakthrough, realized her job had taken priority over her marriage, and made changes in how she related to her husband. A relative received a promotion and was able to move his wife and children back near other family, which relieved the unhappiness and loneliness brought on from the distance. A teenager was selected in a drawing for a job that normally requires years of working up the ladder. A friend struggling in his business mentioned later that year that it has been his most prosperous year in recent history. Another relative resumed professional counseling she had abandoned four years earlier.
I realized these changes came from the hand of God, but I hadn’t prayed for any of them. To my knowledge, none of the people came to faith in Yeshua in those six months, none even seemed to give any more thought to God than before I started praying. They were great blessings, but were not what I asked for. What was God up to?
I learned two things. The first: I need to tell my friends when I’m praying for them, so when good things happen, they will recognize them as gifts from God. The second and more important lesson I learned was: this is exactly how Yeshua works. While He was ministering in Israel, He fed people, He healed people, He defended people — many of them without even mentioning their spiritual condition. In John 9, He healed the blind man with barely a conversation. In Luke 17, He healed ten lepers, and never asked whether they believed in God or served Him. It was only after life-changing events happened to these people that Yeshua then gave them a chance to accept Him into their lives.
And then it hit me: “While we were still sinners, Yeshua died for us.” (Romans 5:8) God already gave His only Son to a world of sinners. Is there anything He would not give? Just like my friends and family, He gives new perspective, the means to provide for families, the support of nearby family, self-confidence and encouragement to keep going. Yeshua loves the person first and creates a history of meeting their physical needs and making Himself known to them, then He offers healing for their spirits and salvation for their souls.
So, the one praying learned Romans 8:32 isn’t limited to fervent believers: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” And I learned that God answers prayer in surprising ways.