Two days ago I was flipping through a book that I literally have not picked up in 10 years. It was a book about youth ministry, as I'm preparing to teach a class and I was considering using the book for the class. I found a note, scrawled on a small piece of paper from one of my college roommates, Lindsay. It was a sweet note of encouragement that she had given me, and it ended with this: "I pray that someday our prayers for our campus will be answered."
When I was in college, occasionally my friends and I would gather in various places--our dorm room, outside, the little tiny prayer chapel in the library--and we would pray for our friends, for our studies, and for our campus. To be honest, I had forgotten the little note that Lindsay had given me, but as I looked at that 10 year old note, I was reminded of several things.
First of all, God hears our prayers. Those prayers, lo those many nights ago, are being answered. I've said to anyone who will listen to me that God is doing a good thing on the campus of Southwestern College, my alma mater and now place of ministry. We struggled to get together even 30 students to worship on campus when I was a student, and now, it's not uncommon for us to have 150+ at chapel (not too shabby for our campus of 650 students). Those heartfelt prayers that our little group prayed for our campus have multiplied as there are many groups praying for the campus: prayer group on Tuesday nights, a group on Friday mornings, the Nurture Committee weekly, and the morning prayers in my own office. God is truly stirring up our campus to action--and it begins with prayer.
Secondly, I was reminded that somtimes answered prayers take time. How many prayers have I prayed that sometimes feel like they have been stifled? I've lifted prayers to God time and time again, for years even, that I'm not sure if there is any progress on them, but I'm reminded by this simple little slip of paper that God's timing is not my own, and to be patient.
Finally, I remembered how important it is to use our words. Lindsay encouraged me way back then, and her words encouraged me as I found them 10 years later. May I always be free with offering a word of encouragement.
As we enter this new month, may we remember that God is always at work, even (and should I say especially) when we don't see him. May we be faithful in prayer, and diligent in doing the part of the job that we know to do.