The idea for this blog entry came to me not as a blog entry, but as an anthology with many contributors from my town. I thought maybe the concept would take wing, and people from towns all over the world would create their own “A Hundred Answered Prayers” (A Hundred Answered Prayers in Denver! A Hundred Answered Prayers in Dublin!) and God would be glorified. Alas, people who were excited to share their answers to prayer in Bible studies were less enthusiastic about opening up to the world. I can’t blame them. And so my anthology ended before it began.
After a while, I realized that I could probably remember a hundred times God had answered my own prayers! If I’d kept a prayer journal over the years, I could blog them all right now! Unfortunately I never did keep a prayer journal, so I’m going to list some of the amazing answers to prayer that have stuck with me and come back and add others as they happen or as I remember them.
Tell me one of your answered prayers in the comments! Together I know we’ll get to a hundred and a hundred hundred.
Here are mine.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. —James 5:14
My sister told me I’d better get to the hospital to say goodbye to Dad. He’d been sick for almost a year, misdiagnosed with “anxiety and depression” and now told that he only had a few days to live. They were pretty sure it was liver cancer. Only awaiting the biopsy results.
Dad said that he was okay with going to heaven now; I wasn’t to worry about him. But I cried, put my hand on him, and asked God to heal. My dad was my softball coach, never mind that it had been twenty years ago. He taught me The Lord’s Prayer. He carried my band instruments. He loved dogs and birds and March Madness and Mom’s cooking and panning for gold. He was my dad!
I felt terrible leaving Mom alone at the hospital. I shouldn’t have left. I listened to Tree63 and cried all the way to my other sister’s house, spent the night there, and drove home the next day, whereupon the first sister called.
“Dad’s going to be okay!”
“What?” Isn’t it funny how we’re surprised every time God answers a prayer? “What,” I said.
“It’s an infection.”
The kind of infection doctors call each other in the room to see. The kind of infection none of them had ever seen in someone who was alive. But an infection nonetheless. Prayer answered mightily. 12 years later, my dad is still on his feet.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy —Psalm 103:2-4
My daughter had abdominal migraines (possibly called cyclic vomiting syndrome) when she was little. Pretty much there’s no stopping it. Every couple months she’d wake up in the night (sometimes not totally wake up, which was scary) and barf every couple hours until around noon the next day. After a couple years, it started happening about every month. Then it happened about every 12 days a few times.
I think she was about six. I told her, “We’re going to pray about this EVERY night. We’re going to pray hard.”
And so we did, every night, with total faith and desperation.
12 or so days passed, and it happened again. I had a private talk with God. “What are you doing?” I asked. “This was a really good opportunity to show her that You answer prayers!” (Yes, I talk to God like that sometimes.)
So I told my daughter about the Bible saying that we should be persistent in prayer. We kept praying every night.
Meanwhile, my daughter kept asking for the Pedialyte popsicles we always kept on hand for rehydrating after her episodes. I’d always told her we needed to keep them in case she threw up, but I decided what the heck, I’ll just buy them all the time. She started eating about three a night, and guess what. She STOPPED having her episodes.
Did God heal through Pedialyte pops or just heal some other way? I don’t know, because she’d been having Pedialyte every day since and has only had one or two barfs over the decade since. (Pedialyte is not meant for constant use, so use caution, but we were desperate.) My daughter still gets headaches, but with an Advil here and there, she’s doing okay. If this were the only prayer God had ever answered, I’d be forever grateful.
While you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. —Acts 4:30
For a year or so, I woke up at night with my arms, face, and chest numb. I got so worried that I went to my doctor and asked if I might have a circulation problem. He assured me that it didn’t sound like a circulation problem but didn’t know what it was. Then, at our annual church picnic in the woods, I stretched my arms up and behind me to try to make my chronically uncomfortable (though not painful) back more comfortable.
My spine zipped from the middle all the way to the top. No more discomfort. No more numbness. Thank you worship time. Thank you God!
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. —Psalm 34:17
Okay, this one’s kind of funny. When my daughter was a baby, there was another baby in the nursery who liked to shriek. They weren’t crying, they weren’t being bad, they just liked to shriek. This startled my daughter every time and she bawled uncontrollably.
That’s not the funny part.
Our quaint little old church didn’t have a speaker that worked in the “cry room,” so every week I had to pick up my baby from the nursery and sit outside with her. I felt very disconnected.
So I prayed for God to resolve this situation. I didn’t have the slightest idea how.
About a week later, the parents of the shrieking baby, whose family had attended our church for generations, up and moved across the country. Everyone in our small church was stunned and sad.
I felt a little guilty, and I missed the baby’s super sweet mom, but it’s also kind of funny.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. —Romans 8:28
I can’t tell you who this prayer is about. All I can tell you is that it’s someone my schedule didn’t allow me to avoid. Anyway, this person drove me absolutely bonkers. We all have people who grate on us, but this is the only person about whom I’ve prayed, “God, You say that all things work for my good. How is this relationship good for me?” I was actually on my knees, which I don’t always bother with. “Am I learning patience?”
You’d think that if God was going to speak to me audibly only three times in 43 years, he’d speak to me about something earth-shattering, but God chose this irritating social situation.
“I’m going to show you how a relationship can change.”
The funny thing is that I wasn’t at all surprised to hear God’s voice, but I WAS surprised at what He said.
So did that relationship change, you might wonder? It did. Maybe not as dramatically as I hoped, but it’s still changing.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. —Psalm 32:8
I used to write Christian songs. I have a binder full of songs, most of which no one has heard. Two have been heard by successful Christian artists at songwriting conventions. At the conventions, my songs weren’t among those the clinicians seemed enthused about.
So as I sat on my couch playing barely-passable guitar and scratching out lyrics, I sometimes prayed, “God, is it okay if I spend my time this way? It will seem like such a waste of time if these songs don’t reach the masses or bring in any money for my family. I could be working during these hours or at least cleaning the house.”
I prayed like that a lot. I got discouraged and my songwriting dwindled.
I think I mentioned above that God has spoken aloud to me. Three times. Well this is the one and only time He spoke to someone else about me, that I know of.
My friend Joel approached me at church one Sunday. He said, “I was lying awake last night, the wife was asleep, and God spoke to me and said, ‘Ask Marie when she’s going to write some more songs and when she’s going to bring out the old ones.'”
I immediately started explaining. Again, funny how I didn’t bat an eye about God speaking audibly. It seemed completely ordinary.
“Well I’ve been busy” etc. etc.
“So you DO write songs?”
“Well, yes.” I’d assumed he knew.
“Whew!” he said. “I thought you were going to think I was crazy, but God told me to ask you so I thought I better do it.”
Those kinds of things aren’t coincidences, people! That conversation gave me so much freedom. If I want to devote time to something that doesn’t bring in money and might never amount to anything, I can relax and put my heart into it. Later, when I wanted to write a novel, I remembered Joel and let myself invest the time. And yes, I wrote some new songs.
Also, I thought it was funny that God asked “When” instead of telling Joel to say “Tell Marie to write more songs.”
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. —Matthew 6:8
Sometimes I forget to pray for what I want. There was a time when my husband and I needed to find a new home. Our landlord wanted to move back in to our rental. I had a toddler and a broken toe and we wanted to buy so that we didn’t have to get forced out of a rental yet again and my husband’s public school teacher salary was barely enough to get a loan for a two-bedroom townhouse. It was a seller’s market, and that’s an understatement. Places were going for 30K over asking price the day they went on the market. We were running out of time, and places were getting snatched away from us north and south.
So I probably prayed. I don’t remember exactly. But I DO remember that when our realtor drove us to one townhouse I exclaimed “I used to wish I lived here!” I had not remembered the complex and definitely didn’t pray to live there. I’d only thought it fleetingly years before. I believe in being specific with prayers, but sometimes God hears the specific even when you forget.
We got our keys to that townhouse 8 hours before we had to be out of our rental.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:4
Before I had my daughter, I taught an after school band program. Then I stayed home with my daughter, and during her toddler years, I remember having the thought, “It would be perfect if I could find a band teaching job during the school day when she goes to first grade.” But I knew that would be hard because I didn’t have a teaching credential, only a music degree.
Then I forgot about that.
In the spring of my daughter’s kindergarten year, a principal called my house. She wanted to know if my husband (a credentialed music teacher) needed a part time school to make his next year’s schedule full time. I have no idea why she thought that (cough cough, God) but I said, “No he doesn’t, but I’ll teach.”
Schools are desperate for part time music teachers, so she basically said “GREAT,” gave me a cursory interview, and off I went. Oh, it was one of the few places that didn’t require a credential, and it was a dream of a school environment. Organic garden, cooperative staff, the works. Deuteronomy 8:18.
Sometimes we forget to put the desires of our heart into a “Dear God, in Jesus’ name” format, but God knows. He always knows.
10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” —Exodus 4:10-12
God has given me strength in ways that I don’t want to go into in this blog. But here’s a particular instance that’s easy to share, where God helped me be more than I am. I was getting ready for another beginning of the year band parent night. Every year I stammered through my list of vital information, always forgetting something even though it was right there on the list I’d made and stared unseeing at.
In short, I had the same public speaking problem many people had. I didn’t feel like throwing up, but I was far from eloquent and only passably informative.
One night, I LOST MY NOTES minutes before the parent night began. I tore through my trunk, my purse, everywhere. There was so much information to give the parents, and I knew I’d forget half of it. All I could do was pray.
This is one of those answers to prayer that some people would explain away with psychology. But I tell you, no one but an all powerful God could have made me the most comfortable I’d ever been in front of an audience. A switch was flipped, and I was never nervous speaking in front of people again. And I didn’t forget any more information than usual!
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. —Colossians 3:15
I used to have terrible nightmares.
One night before bed I desperately prayed for peace in my dreams. That night I dreamed that a man at my church handed me an envelope that said “Col. (something I couldn’t remember)” In the dream I thought, “Who’s this colonel the envelope’s addressed to?” But when I woke up I knew the dream referred to the book of Colossians, which is abbreviated Col. and is a letter Paul wrote to the people of Colossae.
I read Colossians over and over. The man in my dream also told me to stay on the worship team, which I made sure to do.
No more nightmares!
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. —John 15:7
When my dad was sick, he was so weak that he hardly participated in conversation at family gatherings. At some point I realized that I hadn’t heard him laugh in a very long time. We didn’t know if he was dying, but I remember praying to hear him laugh one more time.
I think my daughter was about to turn four. Not long after that prayer, we were at my parents and she and I were playing Uno on the floor, my dad sitting in a chair a couple feet away. My daughter “shuffled” the cards (have you seen a three-year-old shuffle?) and dealt them, and I got a hand full of one color. “I thought you shuffled these,” I said. She shrugged exaggeratedly. “I KIND of shuffled them.”
My dad, tickled, said “Ha!”
9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! —Matthew 7:9-11
Of course I have many more answers to prayer I could list. Some aren’t interesting to read about, some are too personal, some would divulge private information about others, and some, sadly, I know I’ve forgotten. Yes, there have been times when God hasn’t answered a prayer the way I wanted, but many, many more times he has answered in miraculous ways.
I’d love to hear one of your miracles in the comments.