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What Prayer Can Do: A Lesson in Multiplication

The prayer of two volunteers, to distribute food to more people, is quickly answered.

By Lisa Beech, Colorado Springs, Colorado

As appeared in

Last year I joined San Francisco’s City Impact, a nondenominational group doing outreach to inner-city residents. This was my first day visiting a public housing complex. The leader put me and another newbie in charge of handing out groceries.

My partner and I agreed we had the best job. Who didn’t love food, especially when they couldn’t afford much of it?

“Not everyone will need some,” our leader reminded us. “We’re also just here to talk, check in with people, pray with them if they want. It’s about showing our love.”

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The people on our assigned floors seemed happy to see us and our big box of supplies when we knocked–all except one. “I have company,” he said. “Sorry. I have to go.”

He shut the door before we’d even had time to offer him anything. Which might have been for the best. Our box was almost empty. “We’re going to run out of food!” I said. “We must be giving people too much.”

My partner and I looked at each other in alarm. Had we messed everything up? We had a whole floor of apartments left to visit! Lord, I said silently, you fed the five thousand. Could you multiply this food the way you did the loaves and the fishes?

“I asked God to multiply the food,” I whispered to my partner.

“Me too!” he whispered back.

Visit by visit our supplies dwindled. We still had quite a few apartments left when I checked the box again: one lime and a can of soup. Soon those were gone. “We’ll have to tell people we ran out,” I said. “We really miscalculated.” No way is God going to bail us out, I told myself miserably.

Just then someone came running down the hall. It was the impatient man from the floor above. His arms were full of groceries: cereal and cans of soup. “Here,” he said, putting them in the box. “Thought some of the other residents could use them. I’ve got plenty this month. Gotta run!”

We had just enough for the apartments we still had left to visit. God had multiplied our groceries–and multiplied our faith too.