My parents didn’t call me Joshua until my third day of life. Before that, I was simply called, “this baby.” It was not a name, but a plea: “Lord, heal this baby.” I was two months premature and my lungs were not fully developed. I was placed on a breathing machine and given a small chance of survival. I weighed a little more than three pounds and things weren’t looking good for my future. By day three, the doctors were sounding hopeless and suggested that they would have to remove me from the machine if I didn’t start breathing on my own. I can only imagine the pain of parents in that situation. However, my entire extended family gathered at the hospital to pray together. I believe that I am here today because of those prayers. One of them has become especially meaningful to me. My Grandmother prayed: “Lord, if you heal this baby, we will dedicate him to the work of your ministry.” Soon after that prayer, I breathed on my own.
My Grandmother’s prayer was a vow to the LORD very much like Hannah’s vow in 1 Samuel 1:10-11. As the Biblical story goes, Hannah prayed, God answered, and then Hannah followed through in faith. Now, we don’t know what would have happened if Hannah had decided not to follow through in faith. None of us would blame her if she had decided to keep her son as her own instead of dedicating him to the Lord’s service, but I am pretty sure that we wouldn’t be talking about this story right now if she had. It would be just another story of God’s faithfulness and our faithlessness. We have a lot of those. However, I would like to suggest today that often the effectiveness of prayer is due to God’s faithfulness being reflected in the faithfulness of his people. Hannah’s prayer was effective, not just because God was faithful to give her a son, but because Hannah was faithful to follow through in faith and actually give her son to the Lord’s service.
And that is the same reason my Grandmother’s prayer was effective. Yes, God saved me on day three of my life. But it became even more effective and meaningful when I heard this story. You see, my Grandmother told me this story on the day she told me that I wouldn’t have to worry about taking out seminary loans. She was going to completely pay for it. Sure enough, Grandma paid for every dime of my education which is one of the reasons that I am here today. She followed through in faith on a vow she made to the Lord.
This is how prayer works. Join me in spending some time today asking God how we can follow through in faith with the prayers that we have made. Maybe God wants to use you to be a miraculous answer to prayer.
Pastor of Adult Ministries