I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a little sin, what my husband used to dismiss as ‘little ole- lady sins’.  His former scoffing about gossip and ‘bad thoughts’ demonstrated the very common dualistic view of sin that society holds.  It goes like this:

What I do is just human and little and easy to overlook, but what the Hitlers and child molesters and ‘greedy capitalists’ do is serious and unpardonable!

That division acutely reveals our cavalier attitude toward our sin and our low regard for God.  Little do we realize that all sin is the sin of unbelief.  All sin attacks and affronts the God of the universe’s sovereignty, holiness and goodness.

Likewise, there is no such thing as a ‘throw away or little prayer’. As Mike and I are unplugging and saying goodbye to friends after 23 ½ years in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, God is allowing me to see the fruit of some of my prayers.

I have two categories of prayers:  The first involves those conditions & situations which are desperate or needs of friends and family most precious to my heart. For those prayers, I pound on God’s doors like the imprecatory widow unceasingly begging the unjust judge for mercy and justice.  The second group of prayers relate to people more peripheral to my life.  I encounter this group less frequently and consequently much time passes before I can update prayer-need statuses.

We are all relieved when God mercifully grants one of those ‘biggie’ prayers.  But if you are like me, I am often surprised by the results from my ‘little’, less frequent prayers.  Those are the ones that are written down, but I probably cycle through praying for them maybe once every 3 weeks.  (the easiest way Mike and I have found to track all prayer is with Prayer Mate – see link here for details  iTunes app )

In the space of one week, God has gifted me with news of 3 of those latter cases – people whom I see maybe once a month if even that.  I’ve tracked their lives over the years and have been praying for ‘impossible’ situations that God has now unraveled miraculously.

# 1 – My hairdresser’s daughter has been abusing her body with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. There was NO relationship between mother and adult daughter despite years of mom’s rescues.  But ‘miraculously’ through the kind intervention of a truly caring boyfriend who alerted the mom, healing has come to this young 25-yr-old gal.   She enrolled in a residential de-tox facility for a month and has been ‘clean’ for 60 days.  My friend feels like she has her daughter back. She knows that there are no guarantees, but she is very encouraged and sees this as the marvelous blessing from God that it is.  I’ve been praying for this daughter for 4 years!  So why was I so surprised when God actually answered that prayer?

#2 – A grocery-store cashier who lives in my neighborhood had a husband whose body was wearing out through the abuse of no exercise, no job, poor eating and resentment.  When I asked her how her marriage was going (this gal fumed steadily at the toxic lifestyle of her husband), she responded with the good news that he had lost 20 pounds and was making better food choices.  As a result his attitude and HER attitude had both improved. Again, I almost couldn’t believe it!

#3 – Three days later, I ran into a widow whose grandson in the Navy had been OUT of contact with the family for 2 ½ years.  Each time I would see this fellow walker, I almost hated to ask about the young man for whom I had been praying.   The family had even hired a private investigator to verify that he was still living! When I stopped to catch up and say good bye to Pat, she told me that her grandson was home!  He had apparently called up his dad (Pat’s son) out of the blue, asking for money for a bus ticket.  He was now living with his dad and looking for a job.  He seemed to be ‘normal’ according to my friend, although he hadn’t shared why he had withdrawn from his family.  She did offer that it might be related to PTSD from his time in Iraq.

Drawing away from Pat and continuing to walk the ‘loop’ in my neighborhood, I daubed my eyes as tears flowed over the goodness of God.  He had allowed me to see the fruit of some of these ‘half-hearted/ almost unbelieving’ prayers.  These petitions, although faithful, certainly were not of the ‘robust’ caliber.  But it was a good reminder to pray on, without ceasing, not depending on the strength or fervency of my prayer life, but depending on Him who WANTS to answer our prayers.

Do you remember when your children started to walk?  How you praised them for each tentative step they made.  Perfect balance wasn’t your standard.  You cheered on every feeble attempt to move independently.  In the same way our Heavenly Father boasts of our less-than-perfect prayer life.  He says to the Son and the Spirit, “Look at how my daughter is counting on me to intervene in the life of her friend!” He marvels, “Look at the confidence my son is placing in me to bring peace into his chaotic situation!”

So as Mike and I complete our final days here in Newport News, Virginia, we are encouraged to continue to pray for new friends we meet in Western North Carolina.  Lord, remind us & grant us the desire and impulse to greet You each morning, ‘Rejoicing always, praying continuously and giving thanks to You in all things’.