Greetings dearest reader,
Today is a bit chilly where I am so we don't have juice unless you insist of course. We do have coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or if you are watching your diet, room temperature water. Grab a cup or glass, get yourself a comfortable seat and let's get straight into it.
Right off the bat, I want you to know that prayer works, it is answered and it is important. As long as you are submitting it to God, of course, and in faith, it works. It doesn't matter if you have prayed six times, fourteen times, twenty-nine times about the same thing, prayer works! Remember that and remember that always.
Now, back to me and my story. What are we discussing today? My first answered prayer. Right.
If you did get a chance to go through my previous blog post, I introduced you to my aunt, aunty Sheila and I did mention that she was quite a stern woman. When it comes to me, one aspect she was not willing to play games with was my education.
I vividly remember this one time they made me the maid in the school play and she was livid! She wrote me a letter to carry to school and give to the teacher responsible for that positioning telling her to stop playing games with her daughter and to reshuffle the roles to ensure that I was not playing the role of a maid in that school play. At the time, I contemplated not submitting that letter because I thought she was being too dramatic. I was just happy to be a part of the school play's active members and not the rest of the classmates who were just extras who would stand by and do nothing but sing the closing song.
Annoyed, the teacher wrote a letter that she was going to remove me entirely from that school play and consider putting me in another one as a lion at some distant point in time, to which my aunt believed the teacher was not taking it as seriously as she expected her to. Long story short, the next day I was accompanied to school to meet this supposed teacher and I ended up as the narrator of the school play. In my aunt's defense, she was raising a confident, intelligent, capable young woman she expected to grow up dreaming big for herself and eventually leading a respectable life and no one was about to start making her play the role of a maid in a school play. Not as long as she was there to do something about it, at least. Please do not misquote me, anyone doing anything legitimate and honest for a living at whatever level, maids included, is respectable, especially to me. Anyway, I digress.
Not only did she take inventory of my stationery after I came back from school daily or confront teachers if needed or stayed in constant communication with them, she actively taught me how to read. The moment she expected me to read fluently, she started communicating with me in written form. At some point, after returning from school, I needed to read sticky notes on the fridge that directed me to where my food was and what exactly was my food, including one that said;
I know the amount of sugar I left in the basin, I checked it before I left, don't try anything funny with that basin, don't even so much as touch it, I will know.
It didn't matter if I found no one at home or someone at home, I had to read and understand what I was expected to eat, do, not do and not eat.
I think by now you get the picture of how serious education or rather excelling in education was to my aunt, so we are now on the same page.
I don't know if this is the case in every country, but in Zimbabwe, for grade one students, at the end of the first school term, every child is told that they are the class' number one student with a mock report card to prove it. As such, after the first school term (they were three in total), I went home happy as number 1 and I was met with the celebration of my innocent keenness on becoming the first one in my class, just like every other student unbeknownst to me. The second term though, we had real examinations and real grades this time and I came out at number 4, and I was still quite impressed with myself to have come out in the top 5, so all was well in my kingdom until I got home...
...I enthusiastically gave my aunt my report card to which she said a paraphrase of;
'well, that's nice you did well, but tell me something, how many numbers are there before 4? Three you say? Those are three other children like you, who were in the same class with you, hearing the same lessons from the same teacher... As intelligent as you are, there is no need for you to allow three such people to surpass you in the same things you heard together at the same time. You are capable of being the lead and have them follow you. Number 4 is good, top 5 is good, but I am raising a leader, the top one. Next term, you are going to pay attention in class, study and become number 1, number 1 is leading, number 4 is being led'
At that moment, I knew I could not afford to not be number one next term, I just knew it! Somehow, in my little grade 1 brain, I knew I had to pray. Up to that point, I had never prayed for anything besides the typical 'God bless our food. Amen' and all the other ones we were made to recite at school. From that point onwards, I turned to God in prayer. It was nothing deep, just one sentence repeated over and over as many times as possible at every chance I got;
'God make me number 1, please God make me number 1, I will be a good child, I will do everything right, just do me this favor, make me number 1'
For a whole term, I repeated this prayer over and over until the final day. In my class, they had this system of announcing the bottom 10 and the top 10 before they would give everyone else their report cards. As they started reading the bottom 10, I held my breath, I knew the worst I could do was become number 4 again, not 35! or even 25. I had a sigh of relief when my name was not part of that crew! I knew though that just because I was not in the bottom 10, it didn't mean my story was over, I could be anywhere between 1 and 24. What a mess.
Needless to say, I still held my breath as they went through the top 10. As they announced the numbers 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, I truly kept hoping it wouldn't be me, and it wasn't. This brought both a sense of relief and despair as I knew there was a possibility of being in the middle ground between 11 and 24 and I knew better than to find myself in that club.
When they announced number 4 and it wasn't me, I started sweating. I knew that someone else had taken my number, which was already not good enough on its own. Almost immediately, I stopped paying attention at this point. So many thoughts were running through my mind...
what am I going to do and say back at home, maybe I shouldn't go back home today, maybe I should run away, oh no! I did my best though, I think I did my best, right? Right. I even prayed!
As all these thoughts were running through my head, the teacher was announcing number 3 and number 2 and of course the dramatic introduction of the number one student as the leader of the class, the best student, the one who aced this subject and that subject, the this, the that...I was over it already! I wanted to go home, no, not home, somewhere else, but where?
Something stopped me in the tracks of my thoughts, my name, Delsha R L Mangava...me.
Why is she mentioning me by the way? I asked myself. I confusedly looked at her, as everyone else was looking at me and thought I did nothing wrong, I am quiet, I am practically sitting still, what is it? Then everyone started clapping their hands. Again...what is going on? Wait, what? Am I number 1? Whoa! Did I? No ways!!!! I stood up, held my mouth with my little palms in shock, and walked up to the front to get my report card. I came back, still, a bit shook, and sat down. PHEW! what a relief! Thank you, God, I inwardly said. You answered me, You truly did answer me. You answer prayers indeed, don't you? Thank you!!!
\ ...how many times do we do this, actually? How many times do we behave like grade 1 Delsha? Say prayers anticipating an answer and after a few moments start acting like that was a waste of time. Start acting in despair, start saying prayer doesn't work, start panicking and running around like headless chickens and reversing all we were saying we believe in prayer, to God?
I want to reassure you that God does answer prayer, not necessarily because He answered my grade 1 prayer, but because He actually just does answer prayer. From the beginning of the year, I have been studying the word from Genesis and now in the book of 1 Samuel, the books of Psalms and Proverbs too, and quite a number of the New Testament books, primarily because we do have a Daily Bible Reading program at the church I fellowship at right now. Do you know what I have realized? God answers prayers. I knew this, but I have been shocked to realize just how much He actually does answer prayers. Just from Genesis to 1 Samuel, the number of times I have read; 'then he/they cried out to the Lord', it is ALWAYS! followed by 'then He answered him/them or then He heard their cry and He...or then God...'
23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them
28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
1 Samuel 7:9
9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.
Listen, every time, every single time, someone in the Bible, cries out to the Lord, He responds, every time! The Israelites were as wayward as they could be, most times, but when they chose to cry out to God, He rescued them, even the times He had sworn never to hear their cries again, He eventually did! Even Samson that I referenced, we know He was not in his most righteous state when he cried out to God, but He answered him anyway. I am not saying this to encourage you to be wayward and then pray, no. We wouldn't want to go down that route now, would we? James 5:16 (MSG) puts it this way;
* The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.*
I am just here to say just one thing; God answers prayers, He does. Pray then, as often as you can. I did when I was in grade 1, He answered. I still do, He still answers...
SO...As I finish, I leave you with this encouragement;
1 Thessalonians 5: 16
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.