How God Answers Desperate Prayers

Desperation can be the soil and seed that bears the fruit of answered prayer.

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Posted in , Jul 12, 2019

Desperate prayers

Preacher and author Leonard Ravenhill said, “God does not answer prayer. God answers desperate prayer.”

Many years ago, I had grown extremely unhappy with my prayer life. I had repeatedly resolved to rise early enough in the morning to pray, only to turn off the alarm and go back to bed—day after day. I was desperate to change. So I asked a friend who lived just down the street (and apparently had no trouble rising early) to be a prayer partner. 

I asked him to arrive at my house early in the morning (he had small children in his home so we always met at mine) and walk in the front door without knocking. I told him I would have the front door unlocked, the coffee on, and would be waiting in the living room. There we would pray together. I also asked him never to tell me when he couldn’t make it; that way, when he didn’t show, I would go ahead and pray alone since I was up and at it anyway. Marlin’s faithfulness fueled my faithfulness. Or forced it. But it worked. I became regular in prayer and though he has long since moved away, I think of him every time I pass where he used to live.

When my son was a teenager, my wife and I were terribly concerned for him. He was struggling in so many ways, and all of our efforts to help him had been ineffective. I was so desperate for him—for his mind, his soul, his life—that I decided to go somewhere and spend three days doing little besides praying for him. 

I found a retreat center not far from home where I could be alone, walk and pray. It was my first prayer retreat and it was so helpful that I’ve scheduled an annual (sometimes twice a year) silent prayer retreat for more than 20 years since then. I can’t say that my prayers on that retreat were answered immediately, or even quickly, but they were answered. Abundantly, in fact. 

Soon after my daughter had given birth to her firstborn, a beautiful girl, we knew that something was wrong. Calleigh was a month old when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening condition we knew nothing about at the time. 

We all prayed desperately and constantly for her healing (and also, later, for Calleigh’s brother Ryder, who was also born with the disease). But today the two of them, now 9 and 7, still cope daily with their condition, and we still pray daily and desperately for healing

And, while a miraculous healing hasn’t yet appeared, we do believe that God is using many means (including our grandkids’ amazing parents) to make and keep them healthy. We still pray desperately, though, in the fervent hope that God will answer our prayers for them as vividly and richly as He has answered many other prayers.   

Sometimes I have been desperate to pray. Other times I have been desperate in prayer. Always, however, desperation has been the soil and seed that bears the fruit of answered prayer—for me, at least. Maybe it will do the same for you.

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