A classmate of mine from Divinity School, Katrina, told a story that illustrates how, if we are attentive, God answers our prayers in many different ways and especially how that answer might not be what we expect but is always perfect and glorifying to God. On Friday of every week, she goes to a quiet place, a park near her home, to meditate and pray as her Sabbath, as she works in the church and is not able to really have a Sabbath on Sundays. On this particular Friday she was praying to God for direction and guidance on her oldest daughter leaving home to go to college out of state. She was very concerned for her safety and also how she would do being away from home for the first time in her life. As she sat on a bench praying, she heard the sound of a toddler and looked up to see him with his mother about 50 feet away. The toddler was pulling hard to get way from the mother’s clutches, and it seemed that the harder the mother held onto her toddler, the more the child resisted and wanted to run away. This struggle went on for a few minutes, when the voice of a man, presumably the father, said “If you will just let him go, he will be fine. Nothing bad will happen.” The father then appeared in Katrina’s vision and he repeated this statement to the mother. So, she let him go and what did this toddler do? He meandered off a few feet away from the mom, smiling and full of joy. He didn’t run away at all. He was laughing and stooped down to play in the dirt. Well, Katrina broke down crying! She realized that God had answered her prayer! The answer? Let your child go Katrina, she will be fine, and I will take care of her.
So, here we see God answering prayer by sending someone to show my classmate the answer. Pretty powerful! All Katrina said she could do was to thank and praise God for this answer and glorify his name. We see here that yes, Katrina was prayerful, but she was also attentive and able to discern where and why and how God answered her. Where does this attentiveness and therefore discernment come from? By us having the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit as Paul exhorts in our Scripture lesson for this week’s sermon, 1 Cor 2: 1-16. If you want God to listen to you and to hear your prayers, you must be attentive to Him and listen to Him. This statement of course is true because true prayer must be according to His will and purposes; and in order to know His will, we must listen to Him.
We see how my friend Katrina definitely has “the mind of Christ” and that is how she was able to discern how God was answering her and what He was saying to her. A non-Christian would have seen a child playing with their mother and thought nothing of it. 1 Cor 2:14-15 tells us exactly this, 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” (Isaiah 40:13) But we have the mind of Christ.
Blessings, Rev. Tim Pearce