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Inspirational Articles by Lygia Lovelace



Prayers in an Empty Elevator
by Lygia Lovelace



Every summer, when we get out our little plastic pool, we think of Mr. Steve. He was our mailman for many years in Texas. He would often see the children out playing or walking and stop to talk to them. He's a believer, and he always had a ready smile and a word of encouragement for any of us. Many times he ate his lunch parked in front of our house. And one day, when Jonah told Mr. Steve that he, too, wanted to be a mailman, Mr. Steve gave Jonah a mailman's patch for his sleeve….


So what does Mr. Steve have to do with a plastic pool? You see, every summer, we felt sorry for him. He would drive in his UNair-conditioned mail truck, delivering mail. He would also walk up and down our neighborhood streets in his hot mailman's uniform. His face at times would be purple with sweat and heat. Our children would bring him water bottles when they saw him pass.


One day, the heat was just too much for him. As he drove by our house, he saw the children out playing in our little plastic pool. He slammed on the brakes of his mail truck and jumped out at full speed. The children stopped their swimming to watch him.


"LOOK OUT! HERE I COME!" yelled Mr. Steve, as he ran full-speed into the yard. The kids squealed with delight as they dashed out of the pool. Our sweaty mailman pulled off his mail hat and stuck his whole head down in our little plastic pool, drenching his face and head with cool water!


Then, he put his hat back on, ran back to his truck, waved, and drove away.


Mr. Steve's head drenching became a habit after that. Often the kids would put fresh water in the pool just before they knew Mr. Steve would drive by.


This year, when we got out our little plastic pool in St. Louis, Missouri, Grayson thought about our Texas mailman. "I wonder how Mr. Steve's doing," she wondered out loud. As I thought of him, I felt compelled to pray for him.


Do you pray for others?


The apostle Paul said often in his letters to the believers:


Brothers, pray for us. (I Thessalonians 5:25)


Pray also for me…(Ephesians 6:19)


Finally, brothers, pray for us…(II Thessalonians 3:1-2)


Join me in my struggle by praying to God for me…(Romans 15:30)


You see, Paul knew the importance of prayer. There's something about lifting others up to the throne of God that lifts us up as well. And it is certainly God's will that we intercede for others. We are invited, encouraged, and even commanded to partner with the Father in this way.


We do something in our church on Sunday mornings called prayer circles. During each Sunday morning worship service, we take time out to form small groups of five or six people. One by one, each person from the small group is asked to express a need or to share a prayer request. The next few moments are then spent praising our Father and bringing these requests before Him.


Watching others' reactions to these prayer circles has been interesting. I've seen people moved to tears as little groups of our church family have encircled them and prayed for them. And one lady a couple of weeks ago, as Ken was announcing our prayer circles, jumped from her seat and vaulted to the door. The closeness, or perhaps the invasiveness, was evidently too much for her. We spent our own prayer circle time that morning praying for her.


Once during our prayer time, a woman asked for prayer for her 3 sons.


"All of them need a job!" she exclaimed.


I ventured to ask, "Do they know the Lord?"


"Well, no…" she responded.


Isn't it true that in our conversations with the Father, we must not forget to make "the main thing the main thing"? More than a job, these boys need a Savior!


So when you bow your head to pray, do you think eternally? Are you praying, according to His Name? (In other words, are you living and praying according to His will?) Do you see this person in need as God sees him or her? God's heart and will are in eternity.


What if someone asks for prayer for some sickness -- this seems to be the most common type of prayer request. How do you pray? Do you pray that God would physically heal this person, as quickly as possible, or do you pray that in whatever God chooses to do in the illness, that He would bring salvation, or comfort and grace and GROWTH to this individual?


What about if someone asks prayer for a family member who is suffering through the death of a loved one? Do you think of this person's spiritual condition before any other problem in his or her life? God does. What about when this person dies? Is he a child of God? Are her feet in eternity?


Do you know the story of the paralyzed man and Jesus? Several of the Gospels mention this man's plight (Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26). There is much to learn from this man's affliction in regard to prayer.


First of all, the man's friends brought him to Jesus. Was the man willing to go to Jesus, or was he just a captive participant, unable to walk away? We can't be completely sure, but each of the Gospel writers do say,


When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic,
"Son, your sins are forgiven."


This man -- obviously precious to his friends -- was healed because of THEIR faith. Was Jesus including the paralyzed man's faith in this statement? Well…maybe, and maybe not.


Do I mean that praying for others, in faith, truly helps them? Of course! These friends clearly went to a lot of trouble in their desire to help their friend. It was inconvenient! It was hard work! It took time.


But they persevered and presented this man to Jesus.


Because of their faith, Jesus healed him.


Do you pray in faith? Do you truly intercede for others? Do you care? Are you willing to go to all the trouble? It's true! Intercession is inconvenient, exhausting, and time consuming. But because of your faith, your loved one can receive the best treatment ever -- whatever the Father determines. And that is the most you can do!


There is another aspect of this story that begs to be understood. When Jesus determined to heal this man, because of the faith of his friends, what did He heal? Did Jesus say, "OK, your legs are healed, get up and walk?" No, not yet. Jesus healed this man's most pressing need first. Jesus said,


"Son, your sins are forgiven."


Jesus knew that the man's spiritual illness was his most pressing need. When Jesus looks at someone, He is looking at the possible illness within, not the sickness without. The illness within -- choosing to live life in sin, and without Jesus -- is always terminal.


If Jesus had stopped there, not healing the man of his paralysis, would it have been enough?


Yes, it would have been enough. Would the man's friends have thought so? Would you?


You see, sometimes God's healing is just different than what we expect. If we are praying for God's best, and praying in Jesus' Name, then we can rest (and even rejoice) in His promises and in His mysterious ways, no matter what the outcome.


When Grayson came to live with us, she spoke a different language. She learned our words quickly, as long as we spoke slowly and clearly. But at three years of age, she was hesitant and insecure in public.


As I took little Grayson to her doctor's appointment one morning, I pushed the button to the elevator of the large office building. I had baby Jonah in the stroller, and the doctor's office was on the top floor. We were the only ones waiting to get on the elevator, and when the doors swung open, Grayson stepped inside, looking back for me to follow. Before I could even get myself and the stroller into the elevator, the doors shut hard -- firmly closing the iron mouth of the elevator -- and Grayson was quickly launched up to the next floor of the building! My mouth fell open! I couldn't believe it!


I pounded on the elevator doors.




Over and over I yelled these words to her as I frantically pushed the down button on the elevator wall. A crowd began to gather behind me.


I didn't even know if Grayson was understanding me! What would she do?! I considered taking Jonah out of the stroller and dashing up the stairs, floor by floor, but would I make it? What if she DID stay on the elevator, like I told her to? What if when she got back down to the ground level, I wasn't there waiting for her! Could I trust these people standing around me?


What seemed like hours later, the elevator returned. As the doors opened, I held my breath. There was little Grayson, a look of shock and abandonment on her face. Relieved, I scooped her up into my arms. All she had done was "go through the motions." The elevator didn't take her anywhere.


Praying without considering God's will is like this! It's a waste of breath! What is God's purpose for the one for whom you are interceding? Do you put thought to your prayers? Are you living a life pleasing to God so that He will listen to your prayers? Are your prayers focused? Are they truly meeting the need that God knows this person has? Or are your prayers going nowhere -- in an empty elevator with no purpose or destination?


Pray without ceasing…


Pray always, on all occasions…


Pray in His Name…




Copyright © 2010. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace. All rights reserved. KenLovelaceMinistries.com

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