I know, that's kind of an obvious statement to a Christian, isn't it? Duh, prayer works. How many times does God tell us the importance of prayer in the Bible? If you grow up being taken to church, it's one of those lessons that gets repeated to you so many times that you just accept it as truth because you still have that precious faith of a child. It's easier to believe when your eyes aren't really opened to how sinful this world is and how bad things still happen. That naive sense of confidence was ripped away from me much earlier than most kids. Part of the reason I turned my back on God when my dad died was because I knew how many times I had prayed, my mom had prayed, my family had prayed, my town had prayed, and I just didn't understand. A 7-year-old can't understand that God's answer to your prayer isn't always what you want it to be.
As the years went on, I prayed for friends, I prayed for my family to be peaceful, I prayed for health, I prayed for Matt to love me the way I so desperately loved him, and as more time went on and nothing seemed to change, my very weak faith gave up. The most obvious example I can think of when thinking about this is when Matt would tell me over and over again that I would get over him one day and I would find other people who accepted me the way he did (and does) once I got out of that suffocating little town, and I would flat out tell him I didn't believe him; he couldn't possibly know that. And that's just one of many examples.
Now look at my life. College is everything that he told me it would be. I have more friends than I know what to do with, and they're the kind of friends that I know would move heaven and earth to help me if I needed them. I've created my own family out of those friends that make up for the fact that my biological family is still far from stable. I have a social life outside of schoolwork because, gasp!, people actually do like being around me. I'm healthy enough to keep up a pretty darn good GPA with a double major. I got out of my hometown and made connections in DC that are going to help start my career when I need it.
But none of that is why I'm writing this post today. This subject is on my mind because I called one of the friends I've been praying for just to let him know I'm still thinking about him and praying for him and the other person in the situation he's dealing with; he didn't answer so I left a voicemail. A few minutes later, I got a text saying he was sorry he missed my call and thanking me for the message, and in that text he wrote four words that jumped out at me immediately. Your prayers are working.
That's the first time I can remember someone saying that to me, and it just sort of hit me. I could feel the Lord saying to me, "You see? I always hear you. Always. Even when you're scared I'm not listening. Coming to Me will never be for nothing." All of a sudden, I felt so much more confidence in the prayers I've been praying over my own life the past few weeks, months, and even years, that have felt unanswered. The answer is coming. It may not be what I wanted, but He will answer. More than that, though, hearing that my prayers were paying off in this friend's life made me that much more passionate about going to God, on my friends' behalf and mine. The most beautiful part about it is that I know they pray for me, too, and God says "For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them" (Matthew 18:20). And He is always faithful.
And then I spent tonight with Ryann, and that was, in short, a 3-hour reminder that prayer really does work. I prayed for so long, even when I didn't really think it was worth it, that I would find a girl like her, someone I could talk to about things Matt could never understand because he's a guy. And if I had met her when I was in high school, she wouldn't have been able to stand me. I could barely stand me. He brought us into each other's lives when, as she said, "we were ready to help each other grow." When she told me college wouldn't have been the same for her had she never met me, I felt God again. I felt Him whisper gently in my ear, "This is the girl you prayed for." Because of her, I know what having a sister who loves you unconditionally really feels like.
So yeah. That's what I learned (again) today. Prayer actually works. Don't stop.