Here is prayer number nine of Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To and an excerpt from the chapter, God, Bring Good Out of This Bad Situation:
“God, please bring some good out of this situation” is one of the most powerful prayers in the universe–and one that God always says yes to–but it’s also one of the toughest to pray. The reason is that when we’re right in the midst of suffering, it’s very hard to calmly consider all the wonderful things that might lie in store for us in the future. After all, the future is always so unclear and hazy, while the pain we’re experiencing in the present moment is so sharp and unmistakable. That’s why cliches like “look at the bright side” and “every cloud has a silver lining” can be off-putting and even slightly nauseating when we hear them. And yet expressions like these don’t usually become cliches unless there is some truth to them. Somewhere along the line, human beings noticed that bad things can give way to good things or even lead to them. In fact, if it weren’t for the bad experiences–the failures, the humiliations, the tragedies–sometimes the very best experiences in our lives would never have occurred.
In this chapter, the author also goes on to describe a very poignant story about something Theodore Roosevelt endured when he was only twenty-six years old.
Although my own experience of a failed marriage after twenty-one years, was not as tragic as this former president’s, it was a time in my life where happiness appeared to be the last thing in store for my future. However, ten years later, I realized an unexpected happiness in the form of owning a beautiful gift shop, which would never have been possible in my married life. Although I never prayed the above prayer when my marriage failed, I remember thinking, “What good can possibly come of this failure?” God knew, and in his own way, answered that question as he would a prayer.
Tomorrow: Why Am I Here, Anyway? God, Lead Me to My Destiny
Prayer three from Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To is “God, Outdo Me in Generosity”. The chapter is called What’s In It For Me? The author begins the chapter by saying, When I was a little boy, my mother used to say to me, “If you give something you own away to somebody else, God will always give you back two things in return.” Throughout his life he discovered that his mother was right.
Further into the chapter, Anthony DeStefano writes: The amazing thing is that you don’t even have to be religious for this principle to work. Often people who aren’t far along in their spiritual lives manifest a very pure willingness to give. God rewards them anyway–probably as an incentive to draw them in closer to him. For example, the well-known singer, Frank Sinatra–who didn’t exactly have a saintly reputation–was an incredibly generous man. He amassed a fortune in his lifetime, but it was also reputed that he gave away over a billion dollars to charity–much of it secretly. When asked why he thought he was able to make so much money over such a long period of time, even when he was well past his prime, he responded: “I don’t know why, but every morning God just seems to throw money at me. All I do is try to throw it back! It’s been working for years.”
This has not been my experience. In fact, most of my life was spent trying to make ends meet…until I voiced a money prayer to God. No, it wasn’t God, Outdo me in Generosity…it was more like, “God, please show me how to break this negative money cycle.” Then, one day it came to me what exactly I was doing wrong, and I took steps to change my ways. Although I had always been a giver, mine was more the widow’s mite than the Sinatra billions. One time I had the opportunity to give beyond my means, and like the widow in scripture, did so. Did I get back twice as much as I gave? No, but when income tax time rolled around, my refund was more than what I had given. God indeed outdid me in generosity.
Tomorrow: I Can’t Take It Anymore…God, Get Me Through This Suffering.
The second prayer in Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To is God, Make Me An Instrument. The chapter is called Why Should I Get Involved, and talks about the many ways God sends suffering people our way when we say this prayer. Here is an excerpt from this chapter:
When you say to God, “Make me an instrument,” all God really has to do is channel some of these folks in your direction. There’s no need for him to perform any great miracles. No need for him to part the Red Sea. No need for him to send angels. He simply has to steer them your way. Like a conductor in a railway station who pulls a lever in order to make the tracks switch, God simply pulls a lever in heaven, and a veritable trainload of suffering people will automatically be rerouted in your direction! Then it’s up to you. You’ll have to figure out the best way to help them. It may be as simple as offering a kind word of advice or lending them a few dollars; it may be as difficult as donating a kidney or saving their life in a fire. Whatever you have to do, though, you can be sure that you will be able to rise to the occasion. If God sends you someone to assist, he is also going to give you the time, the resources, and the wherewithal to do it.
It was 1999 when forced retirement found me with so much time on my hands, I said a similar prayer, but instead of “God, make me an instrument” my words were more like “Please send me someone to help.” Looking back, I can see where that prayer led me to volunteer work in a long term care facility, and in 2000 into caring for my own life partner who developed Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. That was the peak experience of my being an “instrument”, as it eventually became a 24/7 caregiving assignment until his death in 2007. Today I am a member of the Pastoral Care Team at church, and God has sent several people my way who need either a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen or just a hug. I love being “an instrument” even though I never considered myself as such.
Monday: What’s In It for Me? … God, Outdo Me in Generosity
Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony DeStefano.
It’s a new book I’m reading and for the next ten days I will write a brief excerpt from each chapter, beginning today with the Introduction…or at least comment that upon looking back over my life, I can see where each of these ten prayers has been answered for me. The proof is in remembering.
Here is an excerpt from the author’s Introduction:
How would you like to have incredible, unshakable faith–the kind that could withstand any crisis and any amount of suffering? How would you like to have as much courage and strength as the bravest war hero? the wisdom to solve all the problems you’ll ever face in life? How would you like to have peace–the kind of deep, inner tranquility that can carry you safely and smoothly through all of life’s problems? to experience the most passionate feelings of love, intimacy, and connectedness–no matter how alone you may feel right now? How would you like to know your destiny–a unique destiny God has chosen for you from the beginning of time, a destiny so grand in scope and heroic in proportions that it dwarfs all your dreams–a destiny you can still have no matter what your age, job, or position in life? All these things can be yours, and all you have to do is ask.
Tomorrow: I Wish I Could Believe…God Show Me That You Exist
I don’t know about any of you smokers out there, but if you have ever tried to quit, you know how hard it is–for most of us. It was the worst habit I had entertained in my whole life, and when I realized how horrible I began to feel after years of inhaling all those toxins, I wanted to quit. Oh, the agony of it all!
Chapter Thirty-Six – You’re Too Pretty to Smoke
“God, I hate smoking! Please help me quit. I’ll suffer anything you want; just help me to quit. Amen.” It was a fervent prayer, and I meant it.
“Just take a drag in.”
I was twelve years old when Jeannie Braid stuck that first cigarette in my mouth and put a match to it. She was two years older than I, and a seasoned smoker. The world whirled. My throat felt as raw as a skinned knee on cement.
“Blow it out, you dumb ox!” Jeannie yelled.
I coughed and sputtered as a thin stream of smoke escaped my lips. It was not as much as I had I taken in. I had swallowed the rest. It was awful. I thought I was dying.
“Okay, now take another puff and blow it out right away!” was the next command.
Still dizzy, I stupidly did what she said—and I was hooked for the next forty-seven years of my life……
I have fought the good fight….(2 Timothy 4:7)
Tomorrow – My Travels – A Lesson in Adventure
We sometimes need a break from the overload of our daily agendas. When I became so overwhelmed, I actually prayed to get a break from it all.
Chapter Twenty-Five – Give Me a Break
While shopping one evening, I spied a book with the title, Slow Me Down Lord. I promptly bought it, enjoyed reading it, and made that my daily prayer.
Not long afterwards, I slipped on the lunchroom floor at work, and landed flat on my back. The pain was excruciating! X-rays showed a fractured tailbone. The treatment was to stay off my feet, and complete rest for two weeks; doctor’s orders¾ or God’s?
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Tomorrow – What’s in a Photograph? – A Lesson in Sensations
I believe that prayers are answered; maybe not always to our liking or to our understanding, but whether it’s a yes, no, maybe, not now, not yet, or even “I’m sorry”, there is an answer. This chapter tells of some of the answered prayers I’ve experienced.
Chapter Nineteen – My Answered Prayers
My sister and I had spent the better part of our childhood in foster homes, and for some reason, when we finally went to live with our mother, I became aware of how precious life was.
“Please God, don’t let my mother die until I am grown up and have a family of my own.”
I somehow believed that would make a huge difference in the hurt level. That prayer was also answered. I was thirty-six years old, and the mother of five children when Mom died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in her fifty-ninth year……
“According to your faith will it be done to you…”(Matthew 9:29)
Tomorrow – The Time I Asked God for a Sports Car – A Lesson in Things Hoped For