Are My Prayers Accomplishing Anything? :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Are My Prayers Accomplishing Anything?

Andrea Crocker
3:27 read

“The fact is, I doubt whether my prayers are accomplishing anything.” I had finally let myself think the thought I had been avoiding. I would never have said that God didn’t answer prayer. I knew God answers prayer. I just questioned whether I could expect Him to answer mine. Once I had faced the problem, I remember praying about my sinful doubt. I committed to devoting myself to prayer, and I asked the Lord to let me see Him work in definite ways in response to my prayers.

A short time later, the Lord unexpectedly directed our family to make a drastic change in our circumstances. It gradually became clear that we were to leave our home and field of service for another place. I was immensely grateful for the beginning I had already made in praying with faith. We were confident God was guiding us, and we looked with eager excitement to our future ministry. Leaving our church in Mexico was nonetheless excruciating. We knew the Good Shepherd would care for the sheep in our congregation, but would the sheep respond with faith or fear? I prayed for God to strengthen their faith and make them confident and hopeful. I prayed Romans 15:13 as my request for the people of our church: “Now may the God of hope fill [them] with all joy and peace in believing, so that [they] will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The days dragged by as we anticipated the first meeting in which we would discuss our upcoming departure with someone in our church. We arranged a time to talk with a young man we knew well, a leader in our congregation. We highly valued his counsel and insight. It had been clear to both of us for years that this man was the Timothy every missionary pleads with God to give their ministries. (So I’ll call him Tim.) Tim is a gifted expositor of the Word of God, and he is a cherished friend. Every time I pictured the looming conversation with Tim, my stomach was in knots. He would no doubt ascertain immediately what our departure would mean in his own life. The mantle of leadership in our congregation would fall in front of him, and we were prodding him to pick it up. Would he?

The day we had arranged for him to join us for dinner in our home arrived. My morning and afternoon did not go quite how I had expected, and I found myself pressed for time as I made final preparations to the meal. Many times throughout the day, I had lifted my heart to the Lord asking that Tim would be filled with joy and peace in believing, that his faith would be strong. As I scurried around the kitchen watching the clock, I changed my plan of preparing the plates in the kitchen and decided to bring the condiments to the dining room table so we could all serve ourselves. I selected a bowl I had, until then, reserved for occasions like Thanksgiving dinner. My mom had gotten it for me at Hobby Lobby because it had a verse in Spanish printed on it. I poured the cheese into the bowl and put it on the table with everything else.

I remember having conversation at dinner, but I do not remember what it was about. I was thinking about the news we had to share. How would Tim take it? Would he be discouraged? Fearful? Frustrated? I was eager to send the younger children out to play so we could have our serious chat over dessert. I popped up from the table as soon as decorum would allow and began clearing dinner plates and serving dishes. I carried everything into the kitchen and opted to serve the cookies on our very nicest paper napkins. Once I settled back in my seat after table-clearing and dessert-serving, I noticed I had neglected to clear the cheese bowl off the table. So we sat around a cozy table with coffee, cookies, and cheese.

My husband, Jon, launched into the news with no suspenseful build-up. “We have something we need to tell you. We’re leaving Mexico.” Tim reacted by opening his eyes a little wider and nodding for my husband to go on. Jon recounted in detail how the Lord had clearly led us to this point and expressed his confidence that the church was prepared to be independent. It was a lengthy monolog, and Tim sat very still with his hands folded. His reactions, as I recall, were minimal and tough to read. My heart was breaking as I watched Tim experience the conversation I had previewed in my mind a dozen times. How many meals have we shared? How many hours of fellowship have we enjoyed together? How many inside jokes? How much mutual upbuilding? How soon would it all change? “Joy and peace in believing. Abound in hope.”

Finally, it was his turn. “What do you think about all this?” Jon asked. Tim drew a long breath, “I’m very sad because,” he faltered a bit, “I truly value your friendship. But the entire time you’ve been talking, I’ve been reading this,” he unclasped his hands, reached out, and turned the cheese bowl—to reveal to us the Spanish text: “Trust in the LordAre_my_prayers_accomplishing_anything_copy.jpg with all your heart.” With quiet confidence (peace, perhaps?) he affirmed, “That’s what I’m going to do.” I asked him, “Are you willing to take this kind of leadership in the congregation? Are you ready?” His answer was exemplary: “Am I ready? In myself? Of course not. But Jesus chose fishermen. It would be wrong to say He cannot use me. I’m willing to do this.” Hope and joy ministered through belief.

Psalm 119:91 declares that “all things are Your servants.” I prayed earnestly for the God of hope to minister joy, peace, and abundant hope as Tim believed God. As Jonah’s God had prepared a gourd and a worm to teach the sullen prophet, He prepared a bowl from Hobby Lobby, a busy day, and a hostessing oversight for this faithless servant who needed a valuable lesson about her Father’s delight in answering her prayers.