Burden to Pray
"You better call home because you wife and kids are dead!" a large prisoner said with a glazed look in his eyes. My Sergeant, who was stunned by the announcement, rose slowly to protect himself from this strange acting prisoner.
Suddenly, the prisoner attacked him with a desk lamp. My natural response was to jump on the prisoner’s back to help subdue him. In the violent struggle, my back was gouged by a piece of metal, which caused a 2" x 10" cut. After the prisoner was subdued, I was taken to the hospital for treatment.
This incident happened during my fourth week of working in the prison. Being a Correction Officer is difficult enough as it is, but it is even more difficult for new officers. Since new officers were rare before the massive prison buildup in the mid-1980s, the prisoners had more time to test the new officers to see if they could be intimidated. Unfortunately, this testing often lasted for months.
Since I was getting tired of this testing, I was hoping something unusual would happen that would cause the prisoners to respect me. In fact, the morning of the attack, I made such a prayer request. Of course, I was thinking of something a little less violent, such as making a major drug bust. As it turned out, I got the prisoner's attention by coming to the aid of the Sergeant. Word spread quickly in the prison, "… don’t mess with the new cop. He’s not afraid to fight." As a result, all of the prisoners left me alone.
In reality, my help in the fight had nothing to do with my being brave. It was simply a natural reaction. It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to be scared. If I'd had a couple of minutes to think about it beforehand, I would have been scared to be in a fight inside a prison surrounded by several hundred prisoners. Nevertheless, I didn’t bother explaining this to the prisoners. If they wanted to believe I was a fearless cop, who was I to correct them?
I have found it a little bit unnerving that the only day I prayed for this was the day the fight took place. Personally, I feel God put this prayer request in my heart because He wanted to do a special work in my life. I have found God often prompts people to pray when He is doing a unique task.
One day as I was driving down the highway, I decided to pray for a while. One of the things I prayed for was protection from getting a speeding ticket. This really surprised me because I had never prayed for that before, or since. There are two reasons I wouldn’t normally pray for something like this. First, if I am driving the speed limit there isn’t much risk of getting a ticket. Second, if I am deliberately speeding and I have the audacity to ask God to protect me while I break the law, my prayers may prompt Him to cause me to get a ticket. Since I try to adhere to the speed limit, I really couldn’t understand why I would even consider such a prayer. It just came out.
However, a couple minutes later I reached over in the car to pick up something from the floor and my foot pushed the gas pedal down. As I straightened up, I saw I was going 80 mph in a 55-mph zone. Also, at the same moment, I saw a State Police car in the median. He, of course, pulled out onto the highway and began to follow me. After three grueling miles, he stopped following me. I believe God foresaw what was going to happen and put that prayer request in my heart.
The salvation of the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, is another example of God’s prompting. Hudson became a Christian while his mom was away on a trip. Wanting to surprise his mom, he instructed everyone in his family to keep quiet about his experience. However, when he approached her about the good news, she said she already knew what he was going to say. She said, "You became a Christian about two weeks ago, didn’t you?" She even knew the exact day and time.
On the day he became a Christian, his mom had a tremendous burden for him, so she got out of her bed and started to pray for him. Although it seemed like a short period of time, her prayer session lasted several hours. When she was finished, she had such joy. She knew God had answered her prayers.
Another example of God prompting someone to pray is the salvation of a girl named Beth. I discussed this incident elsewhere in this book, but I feel it is important to include this example here. During a church service, I suddenly had a strong burden to pray for the salvation of a lifeguard (Beth) who happened to be attending the service. After praying for her, I wrote the phrase, "God, please save Beth" on a piece of paper. After the service she came up to me and told me she had become a Christian. Of course, she was very surprised to see the note I had written to God.
This prompting of God is quite common and a person could fill several large books with examples. Yet, I think it is natural to ask, "Why does God do this. Does He need our prayers? If God were all-powerful and all knowing, why would He need to prompt someone to pray in order to carry out His desired task?" Quite frankly, I don’t know. There are many things I don’t understand about prayer and our all-powerful God. I do know, however, God desires our prayers and is pleased when we put our full reliance on Him. Maybe the reason He occasionally reveals these unique promptings to us, is to reveal His power and bring us closer to His presence.
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