I recently was able to assist the teacher of the adult Christian Education class called “Open Door” at First United Methodist Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The topic was prayer. We had a lively discussion and will spend one more Sunday’s class on the topic. Of course, whole libraries of books have been written about prayer so this doesn’t seem like much when I write it. The teacher asked me to say some words about prayer. I presented the following information about my experiences and read Chapter 37 of my book, “Ask. Seek. Knock. A Life Shaped By Conversations With God.”
I was born and raised in Brazil. I have been living in the U. S. for almost 23 years. When I meet new people, they generally inquire, “What brought you to this country?” I tell them my story.
One day I met a Brazilian woman married to an American, they are currently missionaries in Brazil. She asked me the same question. When I finished telling her my tale, she suggested, “You should write your story. We need inspiring stories like yours written by Brazilians. Almost all of our evangelical literature in Brazil is translations from other languages. We need evangelical literature written by Brazilians.”
I gave her the same excuses I had given myself all the time: I cannot. I do not know how to write books. She was very persuasive though. Soon, with her help, I completed a book about my experiences with prayer up to the age of 16. It was published in Brazil in 2003 in Portuguese.
My experiences with prayer didn’t end at the age of 16! That was just the beginning of the story. I wanted to write the continuation. I wanted to share my experiences with others. I wanted to write in English because I live in the United States now and I wanted people here to read my story. Again, I slowed myself down with negative thinking. English isn’t my native language; my English is weak when it comes to writing. I kept making excuses but God didn’t let the desire to write weaken in my heart. It was like a toothache that does not go away with an analgesic.
Finally, I went to God and said, “Here I am. No more excuses. Help me write or give me peace from this desire.” I began to translate the first book into English and added other chapters including my marriage with Tom, which is the most amazing story of God answering prayer that I have experienced. The result is my most recent book – a blessing to me and I hope to others who find it and read it.
I do not know why God answers yes to some people and does not answer the prayers of others. One thing I do know is that it does not depend on our merits. It is entirely God’s great mercy and grace at work. It took seven years, in my experience, for God to answer one of my prayers. Another took three years. Some were answered immediately. Others weren’t answered at all. But then, don’t we know that no answer is considered an answer? God answers in God’s time and not ours.
What are your experiences with prayer?