What is your posture, your attitude of expectation when you pray?
I admit, most of the time when I am asking God to set something in motion in my life, or I am asking for dreams and plans to come to fruition, I set my expectation somewhere in the future, as though it takes God time to put His answer together. But the truth is, His ability to answer is not dependent upon my ability to ask..
Isaiah 65:24 tells us something unbelievable. It says,
“It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear. (NKJV)
Recently my husband Stan and I were in Paris with our daughter Aly. We had traveled from another region of France by train and when we arrived we wanted to get our bearings, so while my husband rested in the hotel, Aly and I decided to walk all the way from Notre Dame along the Seine River to the Eiffel Tower.
It was so beautiful we didn't mind the miles. The details on every building, the beauty of the river and the Spring color blooming, we were in PARIS and it felt as though we could walk forever. As we arrived at the Eiffel, our senses were abruptly bombarded by the crushing sea of people. The green lawn so familiar to us in photos was completely hidden beneath the crowds. Illegal vendors pushing selfie sticks and trinkets, food carts, tourists, bicycle taxis, lots of yelling and noisy traffic made us want to find a quiet spot from which to gaze upward at the magnificent structure we had dreamed of seeing.
The only place the people weren't was a curb separating the sidewalk from the street. We found our spot. We were happily watching people stroll by, taking the mandatory selfies and just chatting about the world and our place in it.
All of a sudden I began feeling ill at ease. Remembering the recent bombings here and seeing the huge crowds before us, I couldn't understand what I was feeling. Was it fear? Was it all in my head? Was it a warning from God? Just as I was ready to get up and leave the area, I felt a shift in the weight in my pocket. My brand new iPhone, filled with thousands of photos from our trek through Europe had been plugged into an extra battery pack in my pocket, out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash. As I looked down, I saw the cord laying out of my pocket on the ground. "My phone is gone!"
Oh the terrible wave of shock and regret and panic that came over me. In this sea of people, how could I ever find it? Someone had snuck behind us and silently slipped it from my pocket, and I sat there like a stereotypical, clueless tourist and let them!
Aly ran one way, I ran the other, our eyes frantically searching the crowds for signs of WHO. We saw the armed military guards present, but surely their goal is to catch terrorists, not pick pockets. "It's just a phone", I kept saying.
Aly and I both turned and met in the middle, as we did, we instinctively grabbed hands and prayed a desperate, impossible prayer. We prayed that the person would somehow return it and as tongues flew from our lips, we turned back to the spot where we had been sitting. Just then we saw the selfie stick guys cluster and run across the street. Aly had been living in Rome and she knew that when the vendors run it means police are near. So she said, "Let's find a cop!". I thought it was ridiculous, no one would care.
A man wearing cargo pants, looking as though he were middle eastern, with broken English he looked at Aly and said, "I have your phone". Wait. What? Who was this man? How did he have the phone? He slid it from his pocket and showed it to us and just as quickly put it back in his pocket. "You can have it back if you come with me," he said.
"Not on your life, buddy", is what we were thinking. How could we know it was even mine? What did he want? What is going on? We noticed a band on his arm that said POLICE. Was it real?
Just then two other men approached, guiding another man with his hands behind his back. They held him up against the food kiosk until his face was smashed against it. He was mouthing the word, "sorry". Another man in full police garb complete with bulletproof vest rode up on a bicycle. At this point we began comprehending what was happening. Again, the man said, "If you come sign a statement you will get your phone back".
We told the man that we didn't know how to get there, we barely even knew where we were. He told us that they would send a car. A few short moments later, we began hearing that siren noise we have all seen in the movies. "Ner-ner, Ner-ner, Ner-ner!"
The crowds parted as the police car pulled right up on the curb. They threw us in the back seat and away we went. We sped through the city, running red lights, zig zagging through traffic at a very high rate of speed. It was spectacular!!!
The policemen didn't speak English and we didn't speak French, but as we pulled into the gated facility, we understood they wanted us to follow them through the doors, through the metal detector and into the station. All heads turned to look at the Americans. They seemed super happy about what had happened and were congratulating each other.
We took a spot on the hard wooden bench. To our right was a small glass room. The man who earlier had been smashed against the food kiosk was inside the glass, staring at us, silently gesturing prayer hands, begging "sorry".
After an agonizing hour or so the original undercover policeman told us that we needed to wait until 9:00 pm for an interpreter to come so that we could make a statement. They still had my phone so we had no choice but to wait. Aly asked him how they knew the phone was even ours, in that sea of humanity, how did they know? He said, "I was watching you."
It took us awhile to wrap our minds around that. Why us? There were thousands and thousands of people there. Why watch us, sitting on the curb, taking selfies, eating our little popcorn?
As the hours passed we struggled to put the pieces together.
Finally the interpreter came and we were ushered into an office to give our statement. As the interpreter talked with the policemen, we didn't know what they were saying then the interpreter turned to look at us and said, "This is the first one". Huh?
"This is the only phone they have ever recovered." The undercover policeman had watched him take it and slide it under his shirt, and they got him! That was a big deal to them.
Through all of the chaos, the hand of God was impossible to ignore. Before we asked, God heard. As we spoke the words, as we communicated in tongues, all of heaven went into action. Only God could've orchestrated all of that simply to demonstrate that He immediately answers our prayers.
I was reminded of the story in the book of Daniel, when the angel came in response to Daniel's prayer he said, "‘Relax, Daniel,’ he continued, ‘don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks." Daniel 10:12 (Message)
In the past, I have thought God was slow. Slow to hear, slow to act, slow to fulfill promises, and that my prayer life was a strategic waiting game. This experience in Paris has challenged those notions. I realize now that God is quick. He hears before I ask, He answers before I listen. If the response seems to be delayed, it is not His fault. In fact, it is usually my own fault or it is a warfare dilemma such as Daniel experienced. I can trust God to answer. All the time. Every time. He is not far away, He is near.
"God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], A very present and well-proved help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 (Amp)
At the end of the night, I got my phone back unharmed and when I left the station, I left my old way of thinking behind. I will never think of God as slow again. His response is faster than a speeding police vehicle through the streets of Paris. His response is quicker than the thoughts I form in my head before the prayer is said out loud. He is faithful!
In time of trouble, crisis, or emergency you can count on His rapid response. What do you need to release into HIs hands today?