Picture a man named John on vacation with his family along the coast of the Mediterranean. They’ve just finished dinner and are enjoying a casual stroll to their hotel. The air is warm, the breeze is cool, and ocean waves are crashing into the shore. It’s like something from a postcard.
It’s at about that time John notices someone following them. A few steps later, another man appears from a side street up ahead. Now the man in front and the man behind start closing in. With each step, the suspicious characters draw closer to John and his family, timing their pace, so they’ll reach the family at the same time.
John knows they’re about to be attacked. He prays.
The two men walk faster. John continues to pray and looks for a way to escape. But there’s nothing they can do. They’re trapped.
In seconds, the men are 30 yards away … then 20… then ten. Within feet of the family, the bushes near John and his family rustle and…
Well, I won’t tell you what came out of the bushes just yet. But it’s to prove an important point.
As one author said, “People don’t read a book to get to the middle, but to the end.” It’s at the end of the story, or the movie, or the play where the author finally reveals the answers to the mystery that’s overshadowed the characters from the opening scene.
It’s the same with prayer.
Our lives are often fraught with challenges that compel us to take our concerns to the throne of grace. But even if we don’t explicitly say it in our prayers, we can feel it – we want a solution now … or at least sooner rather than later.
But what happens if days stretch into weeks or months and there’s still no answer? Quite often, we get discouraged and give up praying.
Admittedly, staying committed to prayer can be difficult. When life is crumbling beneath us, waiting for God to “show up” can test our faith to what feels like the breaking point.
St. John of the Cross called it “the dark night of the soul.” It’s that bleak valley along the path of every spiritual journey where God’s presence seems absent.
Most of us have been there. We cry out to God, “You have to hang on to me because I don’t have the strength to hang on to You.” And, of course, when all the smoke clears, we realize He was, in fact, holding on to us.
But we never see that part of the story clearly until God finishes writing it. And to get there, we have to continue in prayer and trust God to lead us until He brings His answer at a time of His choosing.
At first glance, you might not think our guest on today’s program, John Snyder, would understand anything about the anguish of seeking God in the midst of suffering. He’s a successful pastor, university professor, author, and conference speaker.
But years ago during his doctoral program, John began losing his eyesight. The problem threatened everything he’d worked and planned for, and it led him to experiencing firsthand the power and necessity of persistent prayer.
He’ll share his story with us today. You’ll also hear the full account of the true story I hinted at earlier.
For now, as promised, I’ll share the ending of John and his family’s dangerous encounter while on vacation – but you’ll have to decide what you think brought it about.
Just as the would-be attackers reached John and his family, another man walking the biggest dog John had ever seen came mysteriously rustling out of the bushes. In that part of the world, locals are terrified of dogs. It frightened the would-be attackers away into the night.
Coincidence?… Or an answer to prayer? You decide.
I hope you’ll tune in to today’s broadcast on prayer. It’s a timely conversation to have on this, the 64th Annual National Day of Prayer. I hope you’ll take some time today to either attend one of the organized events that will be held all over the country, or to say a prayer for our nation. (You can read the official Presidential Proclamation online.)