The Answer to Our Prayers

Sarah Arthur

Tornado Ftr TSP 99958747Imagine this: You’re at an amusement park when a tornado rips through. You and a crowd of other people take shelter in the nearest restroom. Everyone huddles on the floor. Members of a church group have joined hands and are praying loudly for safety, for calm, and for people in the park to know God. Praying seems like a good idea. Then you notice two little girls crying in the corner. You think that someone from the group will reach out to comfort the girls, but the group just keeps praying.

Or imagine this: You’re a restaurant worker making $2.30 an hour, relying on tips to make minimum wage. Many of your coworkers are young single parents. One morning a group of Christians gathers for a meeting at the restaurant. They seem to take faith seriously, opening the meeting with prayer. The server fills their orders, adds extra chairs as more people show up, and splits the bill. But instead of leaving a tip, the group leaves a pamphlet about how to become a Christian.

True stories! In the tornado scenario, while the church group kept praying, a friend of mine helped the scared little girls reunite with their families. Another friend, who once worked as a server, didn’t blame her coworkers if they had a low opinion of Christians. The young mother who served the Christian group made a total of $4.60 for two hours of hard work.

Becoming the Answer

waitress serving tables2 TSP 126442303The church group at the amusement park was praying for safety, for calm, and for God to be revealed; but the two girls were not safe, calm, or aware of God’s presence. The Christian group at the restaurant was praying that the world would come to know Jesus Christ; yet they pushed the server, their immediate neighbor, farther away from Christ.

Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove write these words in the introduction to their book Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: “Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do.”

Ouch! How many of us, in emergency situations, have prayed for safety or calm but have failed to reach out to people nearby who were terrified? How many of us have prayed that the world would come to know Jesus Christ but have failed to show Christ’s love to those around us?

Is prayer important? Absolutely! Is it crucial to express our spirituality to the world? Yes! But we need to put our prayers into action. At some point God calls us to be the answer to prayer. Of course, God is the only one who truly answers prayer. But we can be sensitive to those moments when God wants to use us as part of the answer—even to the prayers that we pray.



Think of three prayer requests that have come your way lately. Lift up those requests to God in prayer. Then write down three things you can do to be the answer to your prayers. Tell a Christian friend what you’ve written, and invite that person to help.

Sarah Arthur , author of The God-Hungry Imagination: The Art of Storytelling for Postmodern Youth Ministry, is trying to be the answer to the prayers of her infant son who petitions for food every two hours. (

—from devozine (November/December 2011) Copyright ©2011 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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