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by Karen Burkhart
“I like to treat my prayers like tokens at an arcade,” the woman said matter-of-factly. “I try not to waste my prayers on life’s little concerns but save them up for the really big needs.” My heart went out to her. I thought how sad to live believing your heavenly father has placed limits on his willingness to hear your voice, carry your burdens, or intervene on your behalf. I longed for her to understand the extravagant and boundless grace of God like I had come to know.
Years earlier I had taken a step of faith to move out of a condo I shared with two women and into my own apartment, for the first time. I call it a step of faith because, though I was otherwise ready, I had virtually no furniture or household supplies and limited means. At the time I was gathering regularly with a few young women for Bible study and prayer, and I decided to ask them to pray about my practical needs. Week by week, we prayed for various necessities and week by week, I excitedly reported the ways God supplied, until all my needs were met. Thinking we were done praying about my furniture concerns, Janice surprised me by asking if there were anything else I wanted the group to pray for concerning my new apartment. I hesitated. I mean, there were still some things that I could use, but they weren’t exactly needs. I knew God cared about my needs. He was very clear about that in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” I questioned, though, whether to waste God’s or the group’s time to pray about non-essentials. At the group’s encouragement to “just say it,” I sheepishly uttered, “Um…I could really use a VCR.” Then, with great boldness, Janice prayed, “Lord, thank you for all that you’ve provided Karen. We know you care about big things and small things so now we ask that you would provide a VCR for her.” We giggled like school-girls at the absurdity of asking the Creator of the Universe for a VCR.
A few days later, during a staff prayer time at the large missionary organization where I worked, I happened to glance up at the staff bulletin board. My eyes locked onto a hand-written note posted amid a veritable maze of ads, “Free VCR. See Bob in the studio.” “What? Am I seeing things?” I wondered as I did a double-take. Realizing my eyes had not deceived me, I slipped out of the prayer room and darted toward the studio. I figured God would understand me skipping out of prayer for a few moments to experience an amazing demonstration of His power and care.
When I arrived at the studio, I was happy to see a man sitting at the controls. I asked, “Are you Bob?” He confirmed he was. “I saw a sign that you have a VCR to give away. Is that right?” I asked. He reached down, picked up the machine that was sitting at his feet and began handing it to me. “Do you want it?” he asked. I responded with an enthusiastic “yes,” and then told him that just a few days earlier I had prayed with my small group that God would provide a VCR. At that point, Bob was nearly as excited about what was happening as I was. He had been someone’s answer to prayer! I thanked him profusely and then went back to the prayer meeting with a huge smile plastered on my face.
This experience taught me so much about my heavenly Father. I learned that He’s not bothered with the little things. In fact, I think it brings Him great joy to orchestrate divine appointments to express his love. So, now, I make it a life habit to pray for ALL things, big and small, according to Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I find that each time I put a token in the prayer bank of heaven that God fills my pockets with even more so that I never run out because He never grows weary of hearing from his child.
Dear Father in Heaven, your constant care for me is beyond comprehension. Just when I think you couldn't provide more than you already have, you surprise me with your endless generosity. Forgive me when I place limits on not only what you are able to do, but what you may be willing to do. Help me to be the kind of person that acknowledges you and seeks to include you in every aspect of my life, even in the mundane. Thank you for the peace of God that guards my heart and mind, when I am in anxious or in need. In Jesus' name, amen!