“Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Help it to go by real fast and help Ms. Kornmiller teach us something. Amen.”
Every time I asked for a volunteer to pray at the beginning of my junior high Bible class at Southwest Indian School, this was the gist of each petition. I loved the part about the Lord helping me teach them something.
It certainly placed the responsibility of learning on the teacher, right where the students felt it should be. Of course, I can’t remember the last time I prayed for the day to go by fast.
When I was in my first public teaching assignment in Highland County, I became close friends with an older English teacher, Geneva Miller, who became my mentor. I’ve often said that I learned most about education not from any class in college but from teaching next door to this knowledgeable woman.
We came from different church backgrounds in that her table grace was memorized while I am accustomed to extemporaneous prayer. Every time she invited me to her house for lunch, she would ask me to pray after which she would comment. “That was really nice.” I had to laugh.
I had never been complimented on praying before. Geneva’s prayer was always the same. “For what we are about to receive, may we be grateful and make us ever mindful of the needs of others.” She told me that one time her late husband had had a hard day of teaching and prayed, “Make us ever needful of the minds of others.” Really, both are good prayers.
One of my favorite memories about the power of prayer involved an incident at Southwest Indian School, where I ministered for 23 years. One morning David Oxedine, the junior high boys’ dorm parent, was informed of a problem. “Someone has ripped off my notebook paper,” a boy announced. Then he added that this was the not first time that thievery had occurred.
Wisely, David called the boys together and asked the guilty party to man up and confess his wrong doing. A short time later, a Navajo boy came and admitted he had been stealing and did so because he had no money. Before the boys left for morning classes, David prayed with them and asked specifically that God would supply any financial needs and thus remove the temptation to steal.
As the boys exited the dorm on their way to class, they were approached by a lady from Sun City, a retirement community near the school. She had a box of items to donate and asked the boys if they would help unload the car. They agreed and then immediately noticed something. On top of the box was a huge stack of notebook paper! Needless to say, those young men were amazed by such a speedy answer to prayer!
There are many other accounts of amazing answers to prayer. One of my favorites is a story I’ve read about in several places, the most recent in a book by Lee Strobel. Strobel was a journalist and atheist who, after his wife’s conversion to Christianity, went on a mission to disprove the authenticity of the Gospels and Deity of Christ.
As a result of his interviews with many knowledgeable people, Strobel also came to faith in Christ and is now a well-known Christian apologist. He recounts his spiritual journey in his first best-seller, The Case for Christ. In his latest book, The Case for Miracles, he relates more details about an unbelievable answer to prayer.
In Equatorial Africa a woman died in childbirth, leaving behind a two-year-old daughter and a premature baby. With no incubator or electricity, the newborn’s life was in jeopardy. A helper filled a hot water bottle to maintain the warmth needed by the infant when suddenly the rubber burst! There were no more hot water bottles in the village.
Dr. Helen Roseveare, a visiting missionary physician from Northern Ireland, asked the children to pray for the situation. A little girl named Ruth prayed, “Please, God, send us a hot water bottle. It will be no good tomorrow because the baby will be dead. So please send it this afternoon.” Then she added, “And while You are about it, please send a dolly for the little sister so she’ll know You really love her.”
Roseveare said, “I was put on the spot. I honestly did not believe God would do this.” The only hope of getting a water bottle would be from a parcel sent from the homeland, and they had never received one during the four years Roseveare had lived there. Besides, who would send a hot water bottle to folks who lived on the Equator!
A couple hours later, a car dropped off a 22-pound package containing bandages for the leprosy patients and some food. Amazed, Roseveare then pulled out a hot water bottle! She reflected, “I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed He would.” Then little Ruth rushed forward exclaiming that if God had sent the hot water bottle, He must have sent the doll as well. Sure enough, at the bottom of the parcel was a beautifully dressed doll!
That parcel had been packed five months earlier by Roseveare’s Sunday school class. The leader, feeling divinely prompted, included the hot water bottle. A little girl had contributed the doll. And this package, the only one ever to arrive, came the same day Ruth prayed for it!
I guess there are two explanations for this amazing event as well as the notebook paper story. Perhaps it was merely a coincidence.
Or just maybe the promise found in Isaiah 65:24 is true. “Before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
Karen Kornmiller writes a bi-weekly column published in the Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.