By ROSALIND GOFORTH
"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and
not one of them is forgotten before God? . . . Fear
not therefore: ye are of more value than many
sparrows."--The Lord Jesus Christ.
The pages of this little book deal almost wholly with just one phase of prayer--petition. The record is almost entirely a personal testimony of what petition to my Heavenly Father has meant in meeting the everyday crises of my life.
A prominent Christian worker, who read some of these testimonies in The Sunday School Times, said to the writer: "To emphasize getting things from God, as you do, is to make prayer too material."
To me this seems far from true. God is my Father, I am his child. As truly as I delight to be sought for by my child when he is cold or hungry, ill, or in need of protection, so is it with my Heavenly Father.
Prayer has been hedged about with too many man-made rules. I am convinced that God has intended prayer to be as simple and natural, and as constant a part of our spiritual life, as the intercourse between a child and his parent in the home. And as a large part of that intercourse between child and parent is simply asking and receiving, just so is it with us and our Heavenly Parent.
Perhaps, however, the most blessed element in this asking and getting from God lies in the strengthening of faith which comes when a definite request has been granted. What more helpful and inspiring than a ringing testimony of what God has done?
As I have recalled the past in writing these incidents, one of the most precious memories is that of an evening when a number of friends had gathered in our home. The conversation turned on answered prayer. For more than two hours we vied with one another in recounting personal incidents of God's wonderful work; and the inspiration of that evening still abides.
A Christian minister once said to me: "Is it possible that the great God of the universe, the Maker and Ruler of mankind, could or would, as you would make out, take interest in such a trifle as the trimming of a hat! To me it is preposterous!"
Yet did not our Lord Jesus Christ say: "The very hairs of your head are all numbered"; and "not one sparrow is forgotten before God"; and again, "Your heavenly Father knoweth what ye have need of before ye ask him"?
It is true that "There is nothing too great for God's power"; and it is just as true that "There is nothing too small for his love!"
If we believe God's Word we must believe, as Dan Crawford has tersely and beautifully expressed it, that "The God of the infinite is the God of the infinitesimal." Yes, he
"Who clears the grounding berg
And guides the grinding floe,
He hears the cry of the little kit fox
And the lemming of the snow!"
No more wonderful testimony, perhaps, has ever been given of God's willingness to help in every emergency of life, than that which Mary Slessor gave, when asked to tell what prayer had meant to her. "My life," she wrote, "is one long daily, hourly record of answered prayer. For physical health, for mental overstrain, for guidance given marvelously, for errors and dangers averted, for enmity to the Gospel subdued, for food provided at the exact hour needed, for everything that goes to make up life and my poor service. I can testify, with a full and often wonder-stricken awe, that I believe God answers prayer. I know God answers prayer!"
I have been asked the question: "Has God always given you just what you have asked for?"
Oh, no! For him to have done so would have been great unkindness. For instance: when I was a young woman I prayed for three years that God would grant me a certain petition. Sometimes I pleaded for this as for life itself, so intensely did I want it. Then God showed me very clearly that I was praying against his will. I resigned my will to his in the matter, and a few months later God gave what was infinitely better. I have often praised him for denying my prayer; for had he granted it I could never have come to China.
Then, too, we must remember that many of our prayers, though always heard, are not granted because of some sin harbored in the life, or because of unbelief, or of failure to meet some other Bible-recorded condition governing prevailing prayer. (See Bible Study on pages 129, 130.)
The following incidents of answered prayer are by no means a complete record. How could they be, when no record of prayer has been kept all these fifty years? Had there been, I doubt not that volumes could have been written to the glory of God's grace and power in answering prayer. But even from what is recorded here I, too, can say from a full heart, I know God answers prayer.
"He answered prayer: so sweetly that I stand
Amid the blessing of his wondrous hand
And marvel at the miracle I see,
The favors that his love hath wrought for me.
Pray on for the impossible, and dare
Upon thy banner this brave motto bear,
'My Father answers prayer.'"
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