January 1st Devotion

God answers prayer while you are still praying
John North

“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24 – NLT)

God is answering even while you're still praying!

Barbara and Chris Hanak found this out after arriving at the Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia one Friday evening. Representing Ambassadors for Christ International's Focus on the Heart women's ministry, these American women had been invited by Shiferaw Feyissa, AFCI's National Director in Ethiopia, to lead a training seminar for women in leadership from several denominations. Barbara and Chris successfully navigated the unfamiliar protocols of immigration control and emerged expectantly from customs, scanning the waiting crowd. None of the faces looked familiar. They waited and watched the people who were waiting.

"Shiferaw must have been delayed by traffic or something," they told each other. Chris went exploring to find an ATM machine so they could have money for a phone call, but US cards didn't work in it. Barbara called Shiferaw on a mobile phone borrowed from another American, but there was no answer.

"Maybe they aren't expecting us yet." It was a joke, but also an unsettling possibility. They waited about an hour, wondering what to do. They prayed and asked the Lord for help. And waited some more.

Reservation desks for local hotels lined the hall. Chris chose one at random and went over to speak to the young man behind the counter, explaining their problem. The young man smiled and offered his mobile phone. Barbara came over with the contact information. The young man looked at her paper in surprise. "I know this man! Pastor Shiferaw, I know him! Look. His number is in my phone." He showed Barbara his cell phone directory with Shiferaw's number already in it.

Shiferaw was surprised to hear Barbara's voice: He wasn't expecting them until the next day and had a special welcome planned for Saturday night, not Friday. He immediately asked the young man to bring Barbara and Chris some dinner and arranged a taxi to take them to their guest house.

Over and over scripture portrays our God as one who is eager to hear and to meet our needs. This is very comforting when God answers immediately in a way we expect. But when his response is outside the box of our expectations of timing and methods, we can feel anxious. James 1:5 assures us that if we lack wisdom about what to do in a tight spot, we should ask him with faith and expect an answer. Feeling stranded in Ethiopia, Barbara and Chris asked him for wisdom and tried all of the options that came into their minds until they found the right one: the help that he provided through the young man. Next time God doesn't seem to be answering your need, will you ask him to open your eyes to see His provision and trustingly look for it?
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