I was out enjoying the day with some friends. It was a gorgeous day and we were very much delighting in each other’s company. The conversations and general banter were light and fun. As it often happens in these situations, we shared stories about our past and their significance to each other. Somewhere in our reverie I told a story about my favorite uncle and an answer to a prayer. One of my friends mentioned I should share this story on my blog, so here it is.
Answer To A Prayer
When I was ten years old, like all girls at my age, the overwhelming desire for a horse took hold. I would call my horse Charlie. I knew just what Charlie would look like with his beautiful shiny chestnut brown hair, long flowing tail and mane, and soft brown eyes. I saw myself riding with the wind on his back with all my friends looking on with envy. My parents had already told me that it wasn’t possible for me to have a horse, but I’m not sure whether or not they had given me an explanation.
In any case, it probably wouldn’t have registered with me because I was convinced my parents just didn’t understand the importance of my request. So I thought the quickest way to get a horse was to pray. Certainly, prayers would give me the horse of my dreams. “Please, Please, PLEASE God give me my horse. I promise I will be good all the time. I will do all my chores and be nice to my brothers”. The last promise was definitely a major concession. I prayed with all my might every night for what seemed like forever, but nothing happened.
A short time passed. It was my great luck that Uncle Don, my favorite uncle, who was coming to visit us also happened to be a Presbyterian minister. I felt confident that he could help me correct the fact that my prayers had not been answered. I then set about picking the most opportune time to have a conversation.
Uncle Don and I were alone in our family living room talking about many things like how well I was doing in school, Girl Scouts and all my projects, my friends and all our interests, and so on. Somewhere in our conversation I mentioned I had a problem and I needed his help. He looked at me with concern and asked me to tell him my troubles. I poured out my heart about my prayers for a horse, what the horse would look like, and how sweet and nice he would be. I told my uncle all the attributes Charlie would possess and how having him would greatly improve my life. My uncle listened intently to my every word in his kind and patient way until I finished. He then thought for a long minute, an eternity to a ten year old. I could hardly contain my excitement because I just knew he would have the answer and would tell me what I needed to do to make my prayers come true.
Then my uncle put his arm around me and spoke: “My sweet, sweet niece have you ever considered that the answer to your prayer is no?”
I will never forget my feeling of utter shock and surprise. The first thing I thought was that it had never occurred to me that because the horse hadn’t appeared that just maybe God was saying no. The second thought was my disappointment that my uncle might be right. I am positive all of that showed clearly on my face.
Uncle Don went on to explained that sometimes when we pray for something and don’t receive our request we think of it as not receiving an answer when in fact God is telling us no. We often miss God’s meaning because we aren’t willing to see it or accept it for what it really means. I also remember he went on to ask me some questions, like where would the horse live, and how I would feed and care for it. Of course, at ten years old, that wasn’t something I had ever considered. My uncle continued to explain that God, in his wisdom, understood these things and saw my request as one that would not be good for the horse or me. He hugged me and told me that all my prayers would be answered but I needed to really listen or look for the answer in a different way.
We learn many lessons in our lifetime. I will remember that time with Uncle Don fondly and the lessons he taught me in his kind and patient way. For me this was a pivotal moment at an early age when I learned not all we desire and ask for is what we should have or what we really need. I still continue to pray but now recognize when God is saying no. As it should be, my prayers are now less for things and more for guidance and direction. When I am paying attention, the answer to my prayers are always there.
What have you prayed for and thought you hadn’t received an answer? What was it you greatly desired and didn’t receive? I would love to hear your story.
Life’s journey continues…