Praying is as easy as talking to your best friend but it’s not always that simple. Even after years to talking to God, I have a lot to learn. I was asking a good friend to please pray for us, as our ministry is once again out of funds and we’re not getting any paychecks. Agreeing to pray, she also told me this true story:
Katrina had recently devastated the Gulf Coast, and my friend joined a team from her church that was heading for Mississippi to help in the recovery. They were partnering with a church near the coast that had been acting as headquarters for a whole series of similar church groups.
Hundreds of people were coming through the Mississippi church, sleeping and eating in the church buildings, but supplies were still hard to come by. At one point, one of the church elders approached the pastor: “We’re out of toilet paper! What are we doing to do?”
The pastor asked him if he’d prayed for more toilet paper.
“Gee, no, I haven’t. I’ll go do it now.”
Later that afternoon, a small, 15-passenger van pulled up—and started unloading several cases of toilet paper!
The elder was delighted. What an answer to prayer! Still, he went back to talk to the pastor again.
“Pastor, it’s great that God sent toilet paper, but this isn’t nearly enough! We’ve got hundreds of people coming. What are we going to do?”
“Well, how much toilet paper did you pray for?” asked the pastor.
“I dunno… some, I guess. I prayed for some toilet paper. And that’s what God sent. Some.”
“How much do you need?”
The elder sat down and calculated that they’d need an entire semi load of toilet paper to see them through until the last visitors left.
“OK,” answered the pastor, “Let’s pray for a truckload of TP!” And so they did.
The very next day, an unexpected Walmart truck pulled up to the church and began to unload hundreds of cartons filled with donated rolls of toilet paper!
As my friend pointed out, sometimes God wants us to be precise!
I love this story, and right now, it’s particularly encouraging. Of course, we’ve been asking God to provide some resources. But last week at our monthly prayer conference call, one of our intercessors said we need to be more precise. We needed to ask God for a specific amount of money.
When Pete and I are asked to donate to a worthwhile cause, we first ask God if this is something He’d like us to do. If He says “Yes,” we then each separately pray that He’ll show us exactly how much to write the check for. Once we have an amount in mind, we compare notes. Nearly every time, the amounts are the same, confirming that we’ve heard correctly.
While we’ve been doing this for years, it never occurred to us that it can work in reverse as well. This time we were to apply the same principle, but ask God how much to pray for. That night our entire team spent some time asking God to show us His financial goal for our ministry. Then we listened for what He might us. Sure enough, when we compared our impressions at the end of the prayer time, we had all heard the same amount. Let’s just say that it’s a much larger number than any of us had considered up to that point.
So, we’re praying for exactly what God told us to pray for. We don’t have our answer yet, but the bills aren’t due until the end of the month. Now I’m really curious to see how He’s going to pull this one off!