Grace Grows Best in Winter

Last week I happened to mention to my atheist brother that I was involved in a prayer course which was trying to help us understand the area of unanswered prayer. I was expecting a dismissive response but instead he suggested that there will be a sequel entitled “Prayer not answered…..yet!” I was encouraged not least because he himself is a living example of prayer not answered … yet! The course included a quote from the 17th century preacher, Samuel Rutherford, which has stayed with me. After the death of his wife and two children he said this, “I see grace grows best in winter.” In other words, it is often in the school of suffering where the Christian learns the most, times when we need to depend on God’s grace to meet us where we are, lift us up, and sustain us. Hard as it may seem, the pain of unanswered prayer which we all carry may be those harsh winters in which we mature and ultimately become more fruitful. Perhaps now is the time we allow ourselves to become vulnerable and share with one another the pain we carry and discover a new depth to loving one another as we learn what it means to be honest in our relationships and discover how best we can support each other.  Just recently there have been several items I have read that have challenged my perception of prayer, here’s a couple. Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth said this: “God has not always answered my prayers. If He had, I would have married the wrong man — several times!”

A prayer found on the body of an unknown soldier during the American Civil War:

“I asked God for strength, that I might achieve; I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked God for health, that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy; I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life; I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for but everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am among men, most richly blessed.”

As you spend time in prayer this week read Isaiah 55:8-9 & John 3:30. Bryan