13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Through the Bible: James 1-5
In February of 2020, just before the pandemic shut the world down, I went on a mission trip to South Asia. Now, as my wife would quickly tell you, I tend to be a bit of a last minute planner. But with this trip, I actually thought I was ahead of the game when, three weeks before, I went to where I thought my passport was…
…And I couldn’t find it. My wife and I had searched the house top to bottom and we still couldn’t find it.
So with two two weeks to go, I called Passport Control to schedule an appointment to get a rush passport. I was already within the timeframe where even an expedited passport would be impossible without going to the office in person. The first available appointment would be January 30. Two business days before departure.
Then came the matter of trying to rush a visa. It is possible to get a visa within three days of travel, but not two. Which means the only way to get the visa would be to show up at a passport office before my scheduled appointment and hope they would take me as a walk in.
Up until the week before I was to leave, I had told just a few people about my predicament. I was embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I had been so irresponsible. But at our church’s Wednesday night prayer meeting, I stood in front of my church and admitted my foolishness. Embarrassed that a member of my search committee, the chair of the deacons when I was called, and at least two people who had provided financially for the trip were going to hear their lead pastor admit to such boneheaded procrastination. But I asked them to pray for me.
The next day, I went home for lunch and realized there was one closet upstairs I had not looked through.
And there it was. Sitting on top of a box. Right in front of the door. It might has well have been propped up on an easel with a spotlight shining on it.
So two things I learned from this. First, prayer works. Duh. I was teaching a series on prayer during this whole episode, but it took this debacle to teach me this.
But second, prayer works when we humble ourselves enough to admit we need it. Too often, our prayer meetings are filled with requests for other people, and occasionally the tentative hand raised for “an unspoken request” (which is often code for something we are embarrassed to mention). Is it possible that God waited until I admitted my need to my faith family before graciously answering it?
If there is something you are in need of, even if it is embarrassing to admit it, admit it anyway. Maybe there are some prayers that don’t get answered until our need for help outweighs our need to save face.