Jan 14, 2013
James Fraser was a missionary in the early 1900’s to the remote Lisu people who lived on the border of China and Burma. At the beginning of his missionary work he was transformed by how God heard and answered his prayer. Here’s what happened:
A war had broken out in China which threatened the lives of foreigners. So Fraser traveled across the border into Burma, where he expected to have room and board with fellow-missionaries. But when he arrived he discovered they had left for England because of health concerns, leaving only a few days’ worth of food in the kitchen.
He knew his regular financial support check should be on its way in the mail from London. But the war had disrupted the mail in China, and deliveries between China and Burma were inconsistent at best.
So there he was. Not knowing anyone, with little food and less money, waiting for the mail. And before long he was out of money — and almost out of food.
Every few days he visited the post office and ask if his letter from London had arrived. But every time the annoyed clerk told him no mail was being delivered from China, and that he should not expect any.
So what did he do? He trusted God’s promises. Psalm 37:3-5 was specially helpful (from the King James Version which he used) —
Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt though dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way to the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.
This promise encouraged him to keep praying. So he did. Day after day.
But still — no mail.
Owe No Man Anything
Then things got worse. He had hired someone to help him, promising to pay him on a certain day. But now that day was approaching, and he had no money.
But he remembered how Paul said we should “owe no man anything, but to love one another.” And he knew God would not want him to owe money to his worker. So he continued praying, even more fervently, asking God to bring the mail with the money.
But still — no mail.
God Does Hear Prayer
Then the day came on which he had promised to pay his helper. And he had no money. So he prayed again — even more earnestly. He pleaded with God to hear his prayer and provide the needed money.
And this time, as he prayed, he felt impressed that he should immediately go to the post office. So he did, and was surprised that the clerk was happy to see him.
The clerk told him one letter had arrived — addressed to him. It had traveled from London to the east coast of China, through war-torn China to the far western region, where it crossed the border into remote Burma — arriving the very day he needed the money to pay his helper.
Here’s how he described this in a letter to his mother —
I have told you all this because it is the most direct interposition of God in providence which I have yet experienced; and has done not a little to strengthen my faith. No one here knew of my situation … The Lord, I believe, permitted the trial just to show me how He could deliver me out of it.
(From Behind the Ranges: Fraser of Lisuland, by Mrs. Howard Taylor, pp.53-55.)
- Whether it’s money owed to a worker, or facing Pharaoh’s armies while trapped at the Red Sea, or being in an Egyptian dungeon for years — God often lets trials grow so the final deliverance will display His glory all the more. So keep trusting, and praying. God will deliver (Psa 50:15).
- God delivers in different ways. God freed Peter from Herod, but allowed James to be killed by Herod (both in Acts 12). But both were delivered: Peter into earthly freedom, and James into God’s presence. So trust that God will deliver you in whatever way will bring you the most joy in Him.
- Understand that God hears every prayer you pray in Jesus’ name — and that he will either do exactly what you ask, or something even better, which he probably would not have done had you not asked (Matt 7:7-11).
- So if trials continue, and increase, don’t assume God is not listening. Don’t stop praying. Don’t give up. He hears every prayer. He will bring a glorious deliverance at exactly the right time (Psa 40:1-3).
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- What About Unanswered Prayer?
- How to Overcome Prayerlessness
- How to Pray About Problems
- Praying — But Distracted