God Answers Prayer

‘Then Jesus told his disciples a parable
to show them that they should always pray and not give up.’

(Luke 18:1 NIV)

That's Luke's explanation for the parable that follows. It's about the persistent widow who keeps pleading with the judge, and she gets her way.

I can't tell you about a persistent widow, but I know a group of orphaned children who understood the importance of prayer. They were at The Haven, a Salvation Army home for women and children in Chennai, south India. 
     'If you want prayers answered,' we were told, 'ask The Haven!'
We often called there on our way to the station before embarking on a journey, usually just to greet the superintendent, and for a cup of our favourite Indian tea.

This time we needed to make an overnight journey to the Hebron School graduation. My wife, Margaret, was the guest speaker. But a state-wide bandh had been called across Tamil Nadu. It was to start at six next morning. All transport would stop. There would be little chance of reaching the school. In those days people who breached such organised stoppages risked violent opposition. 
     'You go, uncle,' said the girls, 'we'll pray!'

We arrived in Coimbatore at six next morning. There was still the 50 mile road journey ahead of us. We got down from the train, dressed in our (informal) Salvation Army uniforms, only to be saluted by a man in military dress.

Immediately I suspected he was from the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, not far from the Hebron School. It is one of a kind, providing, under one roof, staff training to officers of Army, Navy and Air Force, not only from India but other Commonwealth and friendly foreign countries. 
     'I'm here to meet you, sir,' he said, nodding his head from side to side.
     'No, no,' I protested. 'We're not here for Wellington. We are Salvation Army.'
I realised that he was thinking we were arrivals for the next course about to start at the staff college. 
     'No, no,' he replied, 'I was sent to collect you, sir. I always obey orders. You come, sir.' 
And then it dawned. The Haven girls' prayer was being answered. 

We were feted to a splendid Indian breakfast in a nearby marquee, and then escorted in the military bus. We arrived at Hebron in good time. The school staff were amazed. They hadn't expected us.

Not all our prayers have been answered in as dramatic fashion, but that hasn't stopped us. We need always to pray. Always means just that. The Leprosy Mission knows all about prayer. It creates another kind of bridge between people, and with God.

January 2016