Only remembered because…
Recently, I was told that answered prayer is not a reality. “It’s just one of those coincidences.” To counteract their argument, I quoted a complicated story of what for me was an amazing answer to prayer. Here is my story:
In my Newcourt days we had to our Sunday Service one time a special speaker by the name of Dr Coker, from Nigeria. After he had spoken, people wanted to be prayed for, and I let him get on with it. One lady came forward who told him she had been married, very many years and wanted a child. However, nothing had happened. She asked him to pray that she would have a child. He answered her and said, “The next time I am here in this church, I will dedicate your baby.” Being perhaps a little cynical, as I sat on the platform, I thought to myself, (which of course the congregation would not know) “That wasn’t the wisest thing to say. The invitation for him to come and speak is in my prerogative and gift. I might never ask the man to come back again.” End of my thought. To be honest I never gave the prayer and his remark another thought.
Ten months or so later the lady came to me, now having given birth and asked me to dedicate her baby. My answer was, “Of course I will, bring the baby and family next week Sunday, we are dedicating a lot of babies then.” To tell you the truth, I had not remembered the prayer and “prophetic” word of Dr Coker. The lady, baby and family lined up with lots of other families and their newly born offspring. I began to move along the line and pray for each one.
That Sunday too, we also had a special speaker. It was not Doctor Coker. I finally arrived at the lady in question. I was about to take the baby in my arms when the door at the back of the Newcourt auditorium opened and in walked – yes, you guessed it - Doctor Coker. It was almost the end of our meeting time together. As I saw his face, immediately I remembered his prayer and prophetic word. I asked the congregation if we could pause for a moment or to , as I wanted to question the man who had just walked in.
I asked Doctor Coker, “What are you doing here?” He answered, “Well! I had a few hours to kill and did not want to spend it at Heathrow as my flight to Nigeria is late tonight. I have been at a conference in Europe. Your speaker is a friend of mine and I knew that he was with you today. So, I have come to see him.” I then answered him, “As you came through the door, I remembered your prayer and prophetic word that you gave to this woman the last time you were here. I believe you should join us on the platform and dedicate her baby, which he duly did.
I was at the said baby’s wedding recently, and I asked the Mother, if she remembered the circumstances surrounding her son’s birth and dedication. “How could I possibly forget,” she said animatedly. Great coincidence, I guess. But personally, I hardly think so.
My friend’s response to the details above was, “The anecdote you give is certainly a remarkable story. The reason stories like this are so remarkable is because they very rarely happen. If “miracles” and answers to prayer like this were something of a banality, it wouldn’t have stuck in anybody’s mind. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but such is the reality of everyday life.”
By the way, a “Banality” refers to the fact or condition of being unoriginal or commonplace. Dictionaries offer synonyms to “banality” with words like: triteness, predictability, staleness, unimaginative, lack of originality, lack of inspiration, prosaicness dullness or even ordinariness.
Of course, my friend did not answer the question, “Is this an answer to prayer or not?”
The thing is; my friend says they “rarely happen.” It is not rare. For those who know God it is common, and, yes, sure, some of the more complex answer do stand out in your mind, but there are so many, if you will, smaller answers to prayer that it would take me a long time to recite. I would need the right mental prod to recall them all.
Just for fun though I will tell you another of those “rare stories” that I really don’t think are rare.
When I moved to London, I often did not have very much money. I had agreed and signed a form to say that my two children at the time (I ultimately had three), could attend a school outing. It was only £5.00 each child. The day came when the money had to be paid and Dad really did not have the afore mentioned and committed £10.00. My young children were very agitated, and were just about to go to school on the final day for the school receipt of the £5.00 each.
What to do?
It is very hard to reason with young children who have a set approach in which their Dad is supposed to be compliant. So, it went a bit like this:
Me: “I am sorry kids, but I don’t have the money. I will come and explain to your teacher. I will come in with you to the class this morning.”
Children: (Dresses ready, coats on waiting for Dad to take them to school.) “No Dad! That is terrible! That is embarrassing! Just give us the money.
Me: Err!! but I really don’t have it and I don’t know what to do! (It is amazing how that kind of answer does not work – especially with young children.)
Children: “Dad, you signed the form. You said we could go. Just pay the money.
Me: “I know I signed the form. I thought I would have the money. I am not very sensible. Let me come and see if I can pay it all a little bit at a time.
Children: “No Dad! That’s a terrible Idea. It’s embarrassing. We do not want you to embarrass us. Just give us the money.”
Me: (Wondering frantically with silent screaming thoughts) “How do I give them £10.00 when I do not have £10.00. Even the bank account is overdrawn. Oh, dear! These children thought they had a bad Dad! So:- “I know children, let’s pray.”
With not very good grace they both bow their heads and their dad prays.
Me: “Father, I know I have signed a form to say I will pay today, but you know I don’t have the £10.00. My children are very cross with me and I have not been very sensible. Now, I don’t know what to do. Please could you help me somehow. Thank you for hearing me. Amen.”
The children offered a grudging, “ Amen”.
Before they can say anything else, I say, “OK! Let’s go to school.” I hastily head out down our side corridor to our side door. We never ever use the front door. I open the side door and the biggest gust of wind blows in the largest pile of leaves I have ever seen. That phenomena had never happened before and has never happened since. I say to the Children, “Hang on! I can’t leave this pile of leaves for your mother.” I rush back in and get the dustpan and brush, still not wanting any further conversation with the children. I start to sweep up and then deliver said leaves back to our bin. I think it was the second sweep when I noticed in the pile of leaves something that did not look like leaves at all. I put in my hand to extricate the “non-leaf item” and pull out - a £10.00 note.
My children were very impressed, and let me tell you, so was I. A coincidence? Well, let me keep praying for coincidences then!