Table of Contents
Vol.9: The Food: Local or Global?
ONE MAN'S ANSWERS TO PRAYER
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1. Whose Prayers are Answered?
Chapter 2. What Can We Pray About?
Chapter 3. Some Practical Problems
1 of 4
1963 Doorway Paper No. 36,
published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1979 Part VII in The Flood:Local or Global?, vol.9
of The Doorway Papers Series by Zondervan Publishing Company.
1997 Arthur Custance Online Library (HTML)
2001 2nd Online Edition (design revisions)
Who rises from prayer a better
man, his prayer is answered.
--George Meredith (1859)
FOR MORE THAN
forty years I have kept a record of answers to prayer. Looking
back over the years since I first came to know the Lord, I think
I have learned certain principles in the matter of praying which
throw light on why our prayers tend to become less and less specific
as we mature, especially those prayer requests which relate to
our personal needs.
Though it sometimes surprised my
friends when they first learned about it, I had many answers
to prayer before I became a Christian. Moreover, these
answers were exceedingly specific. After I had become a Christian
but while I was still very young in the faith, my answers to
prayer were less dramatic than they had been previously, yet
they were still more specific than when I had grown somewhat
older in the faith. In some ways one might have expected the
opposite to be the case.
It seems to me that in the time
of youth we have more concrete decisions to make, even though
most of these decisions (not all of them) are probably
less crucial to the rest of our lives -- contrary to our own
impressions at the time! As we grow older we have fewer decisions
to make but they are apt to be more critical, partly because
there is less time to make corrections. Thus at first, like the
prayers themselves, our answers to prayer are more concrete and
specific, often the simple Yes or No kind of thing. Later on,
the prayer life of a child of God tends to become more diffuse,
more like a conversation with God than an appointment arranged
in time of emergency for the presentation of some request.
For this reason, any record of answers that we may have kept in the earlier
days is likely to be more event-centred, the need-and-supply
kind of thing. It will be journalistic, a
record dealing with the
works of God. Later on with the passage of years, the
record tends to become more reminiscent, more private as it were,
not written for public consumption, often difficult to put into
words and frequently best expressed simply in the form of an
actual quotation from Scripture. We find we have begun to be
more aware of the principles which govern God's dealings with
us, the ways of God rather than His works. The lesson
is learned by an unconscious process of assimilation. We learn
to prove His Word until it comes to reflect our own experience
in a wonderfully personal way, as though passage after passage
were written with us in mind.
As often as not, there is no specific
answer to a specific request, just a proving out of the faithfulness
of God, whose promises are so perfectly expressed in Scripture
that one needs no more than to record the words of a text and
perhaps to add "Amen!" Such a text is "Commit
thy way unto the Lord...and He shall bring it to pass" (Psalm
37:5) or "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct
thy paths" (Proverbs 3:6). So guidance is not so much sought
as experienced, and one can no longer record a succession of
discrete answers but only God's unfailing faithfulness. Or so
it seems to me as I look at my own journal.
The consequence is that keeping
such a journal becomes increasingly difficult, not because of
a less vital experience of the Lord's goodness, but because that
experience so pervades the fabric of daily life as to be scarcely
noted at all. What might then become worthy of note in such a
record might turn out to be only the periods of shadow -- but
in such times the incentive to keep a record is not usually there.
And so the account of God's dealings, by a kind of process of
default, in the end fails to reflect the real course of our life.
My journal is like this: the real record is in heaven. But what
follows is nevertheless taken from it, directly or indirectly,
for a concrete record made at the time often recalls to one's
mind the attendant circumstances. I have not embellished this
record except where some words or background explanation seemed
essential. The earliest entries are not only the most specific,
but they also account for events which took place in the very
depths of the Great Depression in Canada when literally every
cent was vitally important, when one could support a family (and
even have something left over to buy books!) on as little as
$10 a month! I have noted this, because some of the most exciting
answers to prayer recorded involved tiny sums of money
which today would seem
of no account whatever but at the time were tremendously important.
The reader will need to exercise considerable imagination to
realize how critical it could be to save five cents on a purchase
in those days.
I have tried
to thread these answers to prayer together so that certain principles
emerge which may perhaps make them more than simply an entertaining
record or a personal testimony to the faithfulness of God. There
are lessons to be learned.
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