I have to admit that I find myself cringing whenever I hear someone say, “Well, I guess all we can do is pray.” I cringe, not because I am judging that person–God knows I have thought and said the same thing many times in the past. No, I cringe because I have learned, in my thirty-plus years of walking with Christ and after twenty years of Counseling, that prayer must be our first priority and should never be left as a last resort. When we are more about “doing”–and therefore make prayer secondary–we miss out on participating in the mysterious and wondrous workings of God. The simple wisdom and counsel of Isaiah 55:6 says it all,“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.“
Seek the Lord NOW through prayer; call upon Him NOW! When we seek God with prayers large and small, we become part of what I like to refer to as “the ripple effect.” Ordinarily, the term “ripple effect” refers to when a stone is thrown into a still pond . . . after the ‘plunk’ comes the myriad of ripples that move across the otherwise still water. Merriam-Webster.com defines it this way,
Ripple effect: “a spreading, pervasive, and usually unintentional effect or influence.”
In Christian circles, the term is used to describe when God works in an individual’s life . . . and how the resulting “ripples” from that action impacts the lives of many others. However, when God works in response to our prayers, there is nothing “unintentional” or random when it comes to the “ripple effect.” One of the blessings of serving a God who is both Sovereign and Good, is in knowing that He is as much at work in the smallest ripple, as He is in the larger things.
Even though it has been thirty-four years, I still remember how profoundly impacted I was by the “ripple effect” when, at twenty-five weeks gestation, I was hospitalized due to complications with my pregnancy. Back then, we were attending a wonderful church where we had met Christ a few years before. Each Sunday my husband gave an update so people knew our specific prayer needs. During the weeks prior to our sons birth, an interesting pattern emerged. When things were looking bad, the fervency of people’s prayers never failed to carry us through. However, when we did better and people eased up on praying, we seemed to go downhill. When our pastor visited me in the hospital, he commented on how God was using our situation to teach our congregation about the importance of being steadfast in prayer.
As the days passed and Luke was born nine weeks premature, it continued to boggle my mind when I thought about God using our three-pound little boy (such a tiny little “pebble”) to ripple blessing to several hundred people who were faithful to pray. Luke’s birth opened the door to a world of machines and buzzers, bright lights and busy doctors and nurses tending tiny babies in the hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Since our home was over an hour away, I was encouraged to stay in the hospital as long as they had a bed available. The nurses were especially kind and helpful, but that first week was rough. All week, Luke’s nurses expressed concerns about his blood gas levels. He had already received one blood transfusion of what they referred to as packed cells; yet by day seven, he was paler and seemed to be losing ground.
Realizing that I was becoming overwhelmed, my husband took me home for a few hours that evening. I will never forget the night sky that greeted me when I went out to our backyard to pray. I can only describe it as “expansive” as the darkness surrounded me and a myriad of stars shone down. I prayed . . . confessing my fear of losing Luke. I reflected on what my pastor said about God using Luke to encourage steadfastness in prayer in our church. I was comforted as I recognized that, if God chose to take Luke back, his short life had accomplished what God intended. With that realization, I surrendered Luke back to God. As I did, a peace settled over me that freed me to trust Him no matter what happened.
When I returned to the hospital, Luke was asleep in his isolette and had a lovely rosy glow–the doctors had agreed to a second transfusion. From that point he became a “grower” and several weeks later we were able to take him home at four pounds, two ounces.
The “ripple effect” of the prayers of so many and our learning to pray has continued to bless our family to this very day. James 1:2-5 became a special lifeline during that time that has carried us though many a trial since:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
As I write this, our family is being carried by the prayers of countless people as Luke undergoes chemotherapy. This time though, the ripples of the past have combined with the countless prayers being offered for Luke, his wife Shannon and our family resulting in a whole ocean of God’s love.
Wherever you are . . . whatever you may be facing . . . my prayer is that your faith in Christ will deepen and buoy you in the ocean of His love and tender mercies. He is so very worthy of our trust!
All to His Glory!