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Does God Answer Our Prayers?

Of course you say your prayers every morning and evening, don't you? I hope you do. But are you sure God answers them?

If He doesn't, well, then there isn't much use saying them.

And if He does, how much is possible! There is another question, which should, perhaps, be answered first, and that is, Why do we say our prayers? Have you ever asked yourself that? There are several good reasons, but perhaps the most important is that we are all God's children, and in prayer we come to talk with Him just as we do to our parents. What would Daddy think of you if you never spoke to him? Wouldn't he wonder what was the matter? I'm sure he would.

And so, seeing we belong to God, because in the beginning He created our first parents and because He "so loved the world" that He sent Jesus to die for us, what else can we do but speak to Him?

As our heavenly Father, He delights to have us come to Him and talk to Him about everything that interests us. We must not think of prayer as just so many words in a prayer book. That is a great mistake, because if we keep saying the same things over and over again in exactly the same way, the time may come when the words will mean nothing to us. We would become just like a parrot that repeats little phrases without thinking what they mean.

Prayer should be just as natural as if we were talking to any of our friends, only, of course, we should speak more carefully and reverently, remembering how great and good God is. The second reason why we pray is to tell our heavenly Father how thankful we are for His kindness toward us. Even Daddy is pleased, isn't he, when you let him know that you appreciate something he has done for you, though you don't do it very often, I'm afraid; and I believe that God, too, is glad when His earthly children return thanks to Him for His many blessings to them.

Have you ever given a present to someone and wondered why you never heard anything about it? You didn't like that, did you? Not a bit. On the other hand, when someone to whom you gave some little gift sent you a nice "thank-you" letter, didn't you feel as though you loved that friend all the more? I know you did.

I'm sure, too, that when we come to God in prayer, and tell Him how thankful we are for all His many mercies, He, too, is happier. That He loves us, we know, for He has told us so over and over again. Surely, then, He must be pleased when those He loves so much tell Him of their happiness in Him.

Then, of course, there is a third reason why we pray, and that brings us back to where we began. We pray also because we want God to help us. As He is the great Creator and Upholder of the universe, we know that He has all power, that there is nothing too hard for Him, and that He can do anything for us that He wishes. Having such a Friend as that, why shouldn't we tell Him of our needs and desires?

To our heavenly Father belongs all the gold and silver in the world and, as David said, "the cattle upon a thousand hills." David meant, of course, that there is absolutely no limit to the treasures God possesses. That being so, why not tell Him what we need and want?

Oh, yes, I know that He understands our thoughts afar off, and that He knows our needs before we express them, but don't you think He prefers us to tell Him in our own simple words just what is on our hearts? I am sure He does.

Now don't get the wrong idea. God will not give us everything for which we ask. Your mamma doesn't, does she? If you were to ask her for a ten-dollar bill to spend on candy, would she give it to you, even if she could? I should say not. And why? Because she knows that so much candy would probably make you very ill. So don't be surprised if now and then there does not seem to be any answer to your prayers. When that happens, ask yourself this question, Was that a selfish request I made? God does give us things, sometimes, that are just for ourselves, but He doesn't want to spoil us any more than Mamma does. He is more likely to answer our prayers when we ask help for others.

And now, I think, we are ready to answer our first question, which, as you will remember, was, Does God answer our prayers? He does. Not always in the way we expect, but in some way that is best for us. No sincere prayer goes unanswered.

Do not let yourself become sad or discouraged if you do not get an answer to a prayer right away. If you are sure that what you want is good—good for you or good for somebody else, keep on praying. God may just be testing your faith, to see how much you trust Him. Remember, of course, when you ask God for something, always say, "If it be Thy will." Then, whatever happens, you will be satisfied. If you trust God like this, you will never be worried if the answer seems slow in coming, or if it doesn't seem to come at all.

And that brings me to what is to follow. In the next few stories you will read truly amazing examples of answers to prayer, children's prayers, too. I have been collecting them for some time, and I am acquainted with all the people concerned. Of course I have not given their real names or the real places where the events happened, for they might not like that, but the stories are absolutely true.

When you read the first of them, I am sure you will say, "That was remarkable." When you read the second you will say, "That was amazing." But when you have read them all, I believe you will say, "That is convincing; I'm sure now that God does answer prayer.”

Yet there is only one way to be perfectly certain, and that is to prove God for yourself. Ask Him for something yourself something that you really, truly need, or, better still, something for someone else. Ask Him earnestly, seriously, confidently, and then wait and watch.

God will not disappoint you. Look at these lovely promises He has made: “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24.

“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24

“Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9

What wonderful invitations! Why not accept them? Surely it is worth trying, just to see what He will do for you.


Bread From Heaven

After months of sickness and unemployment Father was feeling very discouraged. "I don't see any way through," he said one day, "unless God helps us."

"I hope He will—soon," said Mother earnestly, knowing how very little food there was left.

"I never was in such a fix before," Father went on. "No money in the house, and through no fault of our own either. I wonder what is going to happen?"

"I can't tell," said Mother. "It's the children I'm worried about. They'll all be in for supper in a minute or two, and there isn't a bite of bread for them."

"Is the last loaf gone?" asked Father anxiously.

"It is," replied Mother sadly, "the last loaf."

"Then it is surely time for God to work," said Father.

At this moment the back door was flung open with a bang.

In rushed the three children, panting from their run up the long hill from the school, and, as usual, desperately hungry.

"What's for supper, Mamma?" asked the eldest, Mother looked at Father. For a moment she didn't know just what to say.

“I’m afraid”, she said, "God hasn't sent it yet."

The children's faces fell, Nothing to eat! That was awful. They knew that Father was out of work and that hospital bills had taken all his savings, but somehow there had always been something for them to eat.

“Mamma,” said the youngest earnestly, "if there isn't any food in the house, why don't we ask Jesus to send some? He surely won't let us starve, and I'm so hungry,"

"It's the only thing we can do," said Father, "Let's gather round the table and pray."

So without another word they all knelt down, Father, Mother, and the three children and pleaded with God to send them at least some bread to eat as He had promised in His Word.

Now it so happened that this very afternoon two ladies, who belonged to the same church as this family, were talking about them, wondering why they had not seen them of late.

"There must be something the matter," said one, "or they would've been to the meeting yesterday. They never miss."

"You're right," said the other. "I think we should go to visit them and find out whether there is anything they need. The husband has been out of work for some time, I believe."

"Yes," said the first lady, “Let us go now.”

So the two ladies set out for the little cottage in the country where the poor family lived. It was quite a distance to walk, part of the way being up a long, steep hill.

They had nearly reached the top of the hill when a baker's truck passed them, traveling very swiftly. As it went by, what do you suppose happened?

Well, believe it or not, the door of the truck flew open and out fell a loaf of bread on the roadway. A moment later the truck seemed to hit a stone or a rut in the road, for it shook violently, scattering loaves in all directions through the open door.

Quite unaware of what had happened, the driver of the truck continued his headlong course and in a few seconds was out of sight and far away.

Here was a problem for the two ladies. All over the road were beautiful, brown, crusty loaves of bread, good food that in a few minutes would be crushed and spoiled by other traffic passing by. It seemed too bad to leave them there, and as the truck driver did not return, they decided to pick them up.

It took them a little while to do it, but at last they stood there on the grass beside the road, each with a pile of loaves in her arms.

“What shall we do with them now?" asked one of the ladies, smiling, but a little worried.

“I don't know," laughed the other, “If we knew who owned them we'd take them back to him, but we don't. The only thing I can think of is to take them with us and see what happens." “Well, let's do it, then," said the other, “and quickly, for my arms are getting tired."

So off they went, soon reaching the garden gate of the little cottage they had set out to find. Walking up the path, the loaves still piled high in their arms, they knocked at the door.


The door was opened by Mother, and the two ladies saw a sight that moved their hearts, for there were Father and the three children still kneeling in prayer around the empty table. A moment later all were on their feet, their eyes gleaming with surprise and excitement.

"Jesus has sent us bread!" cried the youngest. "I knew He would if we asked Him." "Yes," said Father, "He surely has, and far more than we dared to ask for. It is bread from heaven indeed."


Let’s Set the Table

Some time ago I told the story about "Bread From Heaven" to a church in Wales. After the meeting a gentleman came to me and said that he and his family had had a similar experience.

"I remember it," he said, "just as if it had happened yesterday. We had had a very bad winter, and with one trouble after another, we had just about spent our last penny. As for food, there wasn't anything left in the pantry at all; not a bite. "The worst of it was when the children came in from play, expecting their dinner as usual. Mother and I didn't know what to say to them. Until then we had always been able to find something or other for them, but now we had come to the end. It was terribly hard to tell them that the cupboard was empty."

"Why didn't you tell somebody in the church about your need?" I asked.

"We didn't like to," he replied. "Nobody does when he gets down and out like that"

"I understand," I said. "And what did you do?"

“Well," he went on, “I called the children to me, and we talked it all over together. They said, 'Why don't you ask Jesus to send us some food? You talk about His supplying every need and giving us "richly all things to enjoy," and you tell us that the Bible says He will not see "the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread," so why not tell Him all about it, and see if He will come to our help?”

“And did you ask Him?" I inquired.

"We did," he replied. "I can see us all now, kneeling around that table. But before we did so, my little girl spoke up.

" 'Daddy,' she said, 'don't you think we ought to do all we can to show Jesus we really believe He will answer our prayer and send us food?'

"We all wondered what she meant, and I said to her, 'What more can we do, dear? Jesus can see the pantry really is empty, can't He?'

" 'Oh, yes,' she answered, 'but don't you think that if we were to set the table and put out the plates and the knives and forks, He would see that we truly believe He will send us some­thing to eat at once?'

"We smiled, but I thought, I must not have less faith than this little child. So we put on the tablecloth and began bringing out the dishes and putting the knives and forks in their places. When the table was all set, we knelt down beside it.

"That was a wonderful prayer meeting. I remember how my little girl prayed. 'Dear Jesus,' she said, 'You see we have set the table to show You that we believe You are going to help us. Please send us some food to put in the empty dishes.' "

"And what happened?" I asked eagerly.

"It was wonderful," my friend replied. "So wonderful that I don't suppose you will believe it. But we had hardly got off our knees when there was a knock at the door. I went to open it, and there stood two ladies, each carrying a basketful of all kinds of food. They were practically strangers to us, but they said they had been impressed to bring us something to eat. We invited them in and showed them the table we had set and told them how we had scarcely finished praying when they arrived. Really, I don't know who were happier, they or we."

"I think I know who must have been the happiest of all," I suggested, "and that was the little girl."

"I believe she was," he said, "for it seemed to her that Jesus had actually sent two angels from heaven to answer her prayer."

"Perhaps He did," I replied. "It would not be the first time that faithful children of God have 'entertained angels unawares.'"

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The Last Coal

Here is another true story of God's faithfulness to His needy children. It is wonderful how He comes to the rescue just in time.

Lucy lived with her mother in one room of a tenement house in London. They were very poor. Mother had to go out scrubbing every day, to earn money to pay the rent and buy food and clothes. She worked so hard that one day she fell sick.

She might have sent Lucy to one of the Christian missions in the district for help, but something kept her from doing so. Until her husband died, she had been quite well off, and now she did not want anybody to know how very poor she had become.

Day after day, as she lay in bed, too weak to get up, she worried about the future. Anxiously she watched her precious savings grow less, and less until they were all gone.

"Don't worry, Mamma dear," Lucy would say to her. "The Bible says, 'Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure' (Isaiah 33:16), and I am sure God will send us help somehow before it is too late. There is still some food in the cupboard and a little more coal for the fire."

"I know," Mother would reply, "but both are getting very short and can't last us long now. Oh, if only I could get up and work again!"

But that was impossible, and every day the little stock of food and coal grew steadily lower.

There came a Saturday night, cold and bleak. Outside an icy wind howled, while snowflakes danced earthward to dissolve on the windowpanes or mingle with their fellows on the frozen pavement. Within, Lucy sat beside Mother's bed, which she had drawn across the room to the fireplace. In the grate glowed the dying embers of the fire on which she had put the very last piece of coal an hour before. In the food cupboard empty dishes told their own sad tale.

"I am sure even yet He will not fail us," said Lucy, though her heart was very sad. Mother drew the covers around her a bit closer in a vain effort to keep warm. "Please read to me again," she said.

Lucy picked up her Bible once more and went on reading where she had left off, in the eleventh chapter of the book of Mark: "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Verse 24. Lucy stopped.

“Mother!" she exclaimed, “did you notice what that verse says? 'What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.' And it is Jesus Himself who is speaking. Isn't it wonderful? Perhaps we have not believed hard enough."

“Perhaps not," said Mother, “though I have tried to, many times.”

"Shall we pray again now?" asked Lucy.

"Yes," said Mother, “if you wish."

"And we really will believe that He will do something to help us this very night?"

“Yes," said Mother, who wished that her faith were as strong as Lucy's. Lucy knelt beside Mother's bed and began to pray.

This is what she said: “O dear Father in heaven, Thou hast promised, and we believe Thy promise. Send us some food and coal this evening, if it please Thee. And send them before the fire goes out. For Jesus' sake. Amen."

Rising from her knees, Lucy took up her Bible again and continued to read from the book of Mark.

Half an hour passed. Still she read on, sometimes stopping to ask a question, sometimes passing a comment of her own.

Suddenly they heard the front door of the tenement open and heavy footsteps echo down the hall. Then they stopped. And a deep voice called out, “Does Mrs. Weston live here?"

Mother sat bolt upright in bed, shivering with fright.

"Who can it be?" she whispered under her breath.

Again the voice called, "Does Mrs. Weston live here?"

"Go to the door, Lucy, and look out carefully," said Mother. "I seem to recognize the voice." As silently as she could Lucy unlocked the door, opened it just a little way, and peeped through the crack. Then with a shriek of joy she threw it wide open. "Uncle Tom!" she cried. "We thought you had been drowned!"

Uncle Tom, who had been overseas for a long time, entered the shabby little room. "You poor things!" he exclaimed, putting his arms around his sister and Lucy. "What has happened to bring you to this? Let me run out for some food and coal. You both look starved."

"Oh, Tom!" said Mother, "you have come just in time, and in answer to a little girl's prayer."

"Yes, look!" cried Lucy. "See, Uncle Tom, it's still alight! God sent you before the fire went out."


After 13 Years!

This story comes from Canada, and was told to the writer personally by one of the children, now grown up, who prayed for help in a time of great need.

Try to picture the scene. A little log cabin stands on the vast Canadian prairie in winter, with a thick carpet of snow stretching out in all directions for miles and miles. Inside the cabin lives a family of six, consisting of father, mother, and four children, one boy and three girls, the youngest being eight years old. For a long time the father has been having a hard struggle to make ends meet, and the return of winter has found him ill prepared to meet it. Plenty of wood has been gathered to keep the fire going, but food stocks are very low, and credit with the stores in the nearest town has run out.

Slowly the short, gloomy days and long, dark nights pass by. Now and then fierce blizzards pile snow above the widows and leave the log cabin like a tiny brown island amid a great white ocean.

Mother tries her very best to make the food last longer. Everybody is put on rations, but in vain. One day she tells Father that she has come to the end, nothing is left.

You can imagine how worried he feels; and not so much for himself as for the children he loves so dearly. What can be done? What would you do under such circumstances?

They talk it over together and decide to take their trouble to their heavenly Father and ask Him to help them out.

This they do, the father leading the family in prayer. They all pray, even the youngest, telling God how desperate is their need of food; how they need it this very day; and how they can see no way of getting any, unless He helps them. Rising from their knees, they begin to talk about what may happen. Each one tries to suggest something that God might do if—

But all are mistaken. How God does like to surprise His children! "Tom," says Father after a while, "I have an impression that there are some letters waiting for us at the post office. I wish you would go into town and get them."

"All right, Father," says Tom, putting on his snowshoes and wrapping himself up well to meet the icy wind outside. "I'll go, but there won't be any. Nobody writes to us nowadays."

"Well, run along, Tom," replies Father. "Maybe you'll be mistaken this time. Anyhow, try to get back before dark. We shall be looking out for you."

Off goes Tom, moving skillfully over the snow, glad to be out in the open air, cold though it is; but quite sure he is going on a fruitless errand.

Arriving at the post office, he learns to his surprise that there is a letter; just one; addressed to his father. "Anyway, that will satisfy Dad," he says to himself, putting it into his pocket before starting back on his homeward way. Night is falling as he reaches the log cabin again, where all are eagerly awaiting his return.

"Any letters?" they cry together.

“Yes, there is a letter; but only one.”

 Father opens it. As he does so a check falls out. Tom picks it up.

"Why, Dad," he exclaims, "it's for one hundred dollars!"

"Wonderful, wonderful!" cries Father. "I lent this man one hundred dollars more than thirteen years ago, and never expected to see a penny of it again. To think it should come back just now! It's almost too good to be true."

"But it is true, thank God," says Mother, her eyes full of tears. "Once more He has not failed us. Let us kneel down now and thank Him for all His goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men."

Money Order Mystery

It was three days before Christmas, and the prospect before the Vester family was anything but a rosy one. Many months of sickness had eaten up all their savings. At the moment there was not a bite of food in the house.

They had never told anyone how bad off they were, and did not wish to do so now, but things were looking pretty black. Little Jane went off to school that morning without any breakfast. She returned at lunchtime ravenous, but still there was nothing for her to eat.

She found Mother in tears, for Father had just returned from another long search for work utterly discouraged."

 “Mamma,” said Jane, going up to them, “I’m sure Jesus doesn’t want us to starve."

Mother wiped away her tears. "I don't think He will let us starve," she said, "but I wish He would do something for us soon.”

 As she spoke her courage returned. She walked over to the old piano they still possessed and presently found herself playing the old familiar hymn, "The Lord Will Provide."

"Now, let us pray once more,” she said. “I can’t believe that Jesus will forget us.”

So they all three knelt in prayer and asked the dear Lord to send them help in their desperate need.

As Mother rose from her knees she said, all of a sudden, "I believe that in ten minutes a letter will arrive with a money order in it."

"I hope your faith may be rewarded," said Father, "for we surely need it."

"Jane," said Mother, "go to meet the mailman. I can see him coming down the street. He has that letter with the money order in it."

Jane laughed, and skipped out to meet the mailman.

"You have a letter for me?" she said hopefully.

"Well, I have one for your mother," he replied, handing it to her.

Jane flew with it to Mother. "Open it quickly!" she cried.

Mother did. Out fell a money order for one dollar and fifteen cents! "What did I tell you?" she said smiling. "Now at least we can get something to eat. The Lord does provide, you see, even if it is only bread and butter."

Strangely enough, the very next day a gentleman called at the house, and asked Father if he would like to do three days' work. He gladly accepted the offer. Other work followed, and the family has never been in want from that day to this. That Christmas proved to be one of the happiest of their lives.

You could never persuade Jane, or her parents for that matter, that Jesus does not help His children in time of need. They know He does!