"Pray at all times. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit's wishes. Plead with him, reminding him of your needs and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere."
Ephesians 6:18, The Living Bible translation
In 2004 when our family lived in Africa we had the terrifying experience of having armed robbers invade the guest house where we were trying to rest from a previous armed robber attack that had only happened a week earlier. (Some rest !!!!)
The twilight had faded into night and our two primary aged kids, my husband and I were playing pictionary, ( a game none of us play anymore) on the first floor room of the guesthouse. Suddenly there was loud banging and screaming from downstairs and the sound of a door being smashed. We could hear the voices of a large group of men swearing and demanding money from the guests below.
From our previous experience we knew these men would carry guns and other weapons, (and they did), they were also known to shoot those who had no money, and those who showed any resistance. Particularly, it increasingly became their modus operandi to rape women during their crime sprees.
Stunned, my husband and I stared at each other and then we locked the door. Our first thought was to remove our children from danger. There was a man hole in the ceiling and my husband hoisted them into the roof space and they balanced precariously on the wooden beams, clinging on for dear life, acutely aware of the gravity of the situation.
Our instructions to them were this, "Do not make a sound, do not look down, no matter what you hear in this room, do not speak unless we call your name or one of our American friends calls for you." They were silent.
My husband then busied himself with dismembering every piece of furniture in the room and piling it against the door and then bracing himself against it with his feet, waiting for the inevitable.
As a trained registered nurse and someone who has been a christian for many years I had always imagined I would be cool, calm and collected in this sort of desperate situation. But I was actually a complete mess!
My life certainly didn't flash before me, I just kept lamenting the fact that, if only I had done more excersize and followed a strict diet, then I could have hidden in the roof space too but now I'm too fat to squeeze in!!!
My thoughts did eventually turn to God as I nervously paced the room and stepped in and out of an empty bath, I can only put that down to sheer panic. Frightened, I cried out to God and said, please, oh please give me a bible verse for this situation!!!!
But there was no answer, of course if I am totally honest I was expecting God to say you will be protected, no harm will come to you etc, etc. Dictating to God never works even in a crisis, if you have ever tried it.
Finally, desperate and in genuine need I knelt before God on the cold tiled floor of the bathroom and asked please God in this time of great danger, please speak to me and help me to deal with whatever is about to happen.
God then answered,
Jenny, there are so many people praying for you and your family right now.
An instant calmness filled me, which I can only describe as the presence of God and I didn't feel so alone because I knew the precious prayers of those who follow Jesus had reached God on our behalf pleading with God for our protection in this dire situation.
I came out of the bathroom and my husband and I prayed and committed our family to God and then had the presence of mind,( thanks to God) to ring a friend and alert her to the problem.
We listened as mens voices yelled "upstairs, upstairs". We switched the light off and heard footsteps creeping towards our door and then watched the door handle, it slowly moved downward and was pushed as they tested the lock but they did not break down the door. We collectively let out our breath and waited quietly, the time moved interminably slowly and from the eventual silence below us we knew the criminals had departed and soon after we heard friends anxiously calling our names to see if we were unharmed. Only then did we remove the kids from their hiding place and unlock the door.
God answered and protected us.
When I reflect on that night I am always reminded how important are the prayers of God's people!!! The verse in Ephesians says, as followers of Jesus we must pray at all times and especially for our fellow Christians. My question to myself is, do I, do I pray enough for other believers? as much as God would like? imagine if the people we knew had not been praying for us because they were tired of it, distracted, had better things to do, you name the excuse that we all give to God about our lack of prayer. How incredibly thankful I am that we had faithful churches, friends, family and even people we didn't know earnestly bringing us before the throne of God in our hour of need. Do we pray enough as churches, as bible study groups, as families, as individuals for other believers?
That fateful night also reminds me that we have the immense privilege of serving a powerful and loving God who desires that we bring our needs before Him and He comes in response to our prayers and answers them in accordance with His will. ( Ephesians 3:20, 1John 5:14,15)
We have a God who answers prayer!!!
Do we take advantage of such an offer? I believe God wants us to.
Do we pray according to what the Holy spirit would desire for us and our families, for our world?
Let's be faithful and constant in our prayers, remember James 5:16 and I am paraphrasing, "the earnest prayer of one saved by Jesus has great and powerful results". Because our God is mighty.
What sort of prayers could we be offering to our gracious God today?