6 Praise be to the LORD,
     for he has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
     my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
     and I will give thanks to him in song.

8 The LORD is the strength of his people,
     a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
9 Save your people and bless your inheritance;
     be their shepherd and carry them forever.   (Psalm 28:6-9  NIV)

     Do you remember the first time you prayed a serious heart-felt prayer for something and God answered?  God answered such a prayer for me when I was in the second or third grade.  I was a farm girl and had taken my only pair of shoes off one Saturday in the field behind the barn where we were hoeing and pulling weeds.  The next morning I couldn’t find my shoes for church and remembered taking them off in the field.  I didn’t want to miss because I was trying to get perfect attendance, so I hurried to the field and searched the long rows from one end to the other without finding them.  Then it occurred to me that this could be something I should pray about.  I don’t remember my exact words, but my thinking was something like “God, if you really do answer prayers, help me find my shoes.”  I had no more than finished my prayer when I opened my eyes with new hope, turned around and there were my shoes on the ground behind me.  It was so awesome!  What a powerhouse this memory has been to me even to this day, some 50 years later.

     I could recall many other such experiences such as the time I prayed it wouldn’t rain on a particular outing of the Science Club.  I was looking forward to the trip so much and was afraid the rain would ruin everything.  I learned that day that God has a sense of humor.  It rained, but who cared?  We got hold of some squirt guns and had a blast.  It was one of the most fun outings in my memories of high school.

     And on a more serious note, I once came so close to a major financial catastrophe when I had misunderstood the fine print of my college loan.  I had gone too long without registering for another class which meant I would have to take 9 hours credit per semester instead of 6 or start paying my loan back immediately.  The only way out was for me to enroll in a class within a week and I wasn’t free from my job as school librarian for five more weeks.  The loans for my masters’ degree had seemed to be such a fantastic blessing from God, nothing short of a miracle in itself.  “How could you allow this dreadful thing to happen to me?” I poured my heart out to God.  I was heart sick.  I wanted to shake my fist at God.  “What can I do now?”  I pleaded with him.  I had to work to have an income.  I couldn’t afford pay for the loan; I was expecting to have it forgiven in return for service as a school librarian.  And I knew I couldn’t carry 9 hours of graduate work in addition to holding down my full-time job.  After much discussion of my situation with God, I picked up the letter that had come in the mail and decided to call the loan officer.  The only thing I could do was to enroll in a class within a week.  I looked again at the summer school schedule.  The summer term would start soon enough, but I would still be in school for four of the five weeks of class.  Praise the Lord!  There was one class, a class I needed, that was offered as a TV course with only two Saturdays that I would have to drive to the campus.  To quote David’s psalm, “Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.”  God had pulled yet one more miracle of many during my college career.  I was able to finish my degree with no more lapses in  time, and every class I needed to take was available at a time I could take it.

     I didn’t mean to spend so much time writing about myself, but it is through serious praying that we learn that God is there for us.   One day when we finally receive our heavenly reward and we see our lives pass before us, we will be astonished at how much was accomplished in our lives as a result of prayer.  Sadly, we may also have revealed how much we missed in life because we neglected to spend more time in prayer.

      Verse seven says God is my strength and shield.  It is through prayer that we lay claim to this strength.  God works through our prayers as well as our regular Bible reading to keep us strong.  Have you been keeping close contact with God lately, or do you need to move a little closer?  He promises that if we will draw near to him, he will draw near to us.  (James 4:8)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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