By Rhonda Hayward
God has been patiently teaching me a simple truth: Listen first, then obey. An underlying principle is that prayer is both talking and listening to God (in what other relationship do we exclusively do all the talking?!). As I have dared to actually taken the time to listen and expect an answer as I pray, I have been amazed at this: God responds. He gives His thoughts and ideas. Now I know that the Bible is always our plumb-line Truth, but that doesn’t negate the fact that God does speak into our hearts His thoughts and ideas. And those can be very different than our thoughts and ideas and even illogical, to our minds at least!
Take Matthew. Several years ago, we had no health worker at our village’s clinic. In order to motivate authorities to send someone, we felt led not to do any medical work, outside of pain relief, unless a life-threatening situation arose. That caused us and the people to more desperately depend on God in time of sickness.
One young boy was obviously quite ill from some respiratory infection. I invited the parents to come and let Steve and I pray for them. When I visited their home the next afternoon Matthew was worse, lying listlessly and feverishly by the fire, breathing rapidly. When I checked, I found his respiration rate to be 60 and his pulse 140 per minute. Combined with other symptoms, I was certain I was looking at an advancing case of pneumonia. Now the decision. Was this a life and death situation? It appeared so. I was ready to walk to the clinic and get the needed antibiotics, but when I took time to pray first, I felt a “nudge” that was contrary to my natural instinct. I felt led to go and pray once more for Matthew and wait until morning before starting him on an antibiotic. That was a challenging thing for me to do.
Due to rain the next day, I didn’t see Matthew until just before noon. I looked out my kitchen window and saw Matthew’s mom, Margaret, standing near the house with—it couldn’t be—but it looked like Matthew! I quickly went over to see. There indeed was Matthew standing and smiling next to his mom. Incredulously I actually asked, “Is this Matthew?!” J Margaret’s smiling response was, “Yes! God healed him!” Still in somewhat of a state of shock, I checked for fever, racing pulse and fast breathing…none there! The pained, feverish eyes and face were replaced by sparkling eyes and a cute grin. Except for the remnants of a cough and runny nose, this was a healthy rendition of the same very ill child of the previous afternoon! Throughout the rest of the week, as I would see Matthew running and laughing with the other children, I would pause in humble amazement at God’s incredible answer to prayer…as I dared to simply take time to listen and obey.
Steve and Rhonda serve the Tay language group and are nearing the completion of the Tay New Testament.