If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won't correct you for asking. But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm. (Jas 1:5-6 CEV)
When I was a teenager, I lived in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). We lived in a constant state of drought. One hot, dry Sunday I traveled with our church pastor to a farming community where I would play the piano for the monthly service. .
During the week before the service, several of the congregation contacted the pastor and asked him to come prepared to pray for rain. As we turned in the drive to the farmers' hall, the scorching sun shone down mercilessly. Not so much as a wisp of cloud broke the brilliant blue of the sky. There would be no rain that day
Half way through the service, the pastor looked around the congregation and said, "A number of you asked me to pray for rain. How many of you want me to ask God for rain?" Almost all the hands went up.
"How many of you believe God can do this?" All the hands went up.
"How many of you have brought umbrellas or raincoats?" Not one hand went up.
"Then I won't pray for rain," said the pastor. "I wouldn't want you to all get wet."
One could debate his attitude, but the point is valid. They planned to pray—but they didn't anticipate an answer.
I currently live in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where we are in the grip of the worst drought of the decade. Yet here in Port Elizabeth, we are surrounded by water. We live on the coast.
In October last year, the municipality announced severe water restrictions. Households are restricted to a tight water budget, with heavy fines if the they go over their allowed allocation. Municipal water may not be used to fill swimming pools, water bowling greens or golf courses, or even water a home garden. If the authorities spot a hose-pipe attached to a faucet, an immediate and heavy fine is imposed.
Often we see rain clouds gathering on the horizon. They move steadily towards the city, blown along by the winds that give this town its nickname of "The Windy City." As the rain draws nearer, often a few drops fall from the heavens. Sometimes there's enough to dampen the surface of the gardens. Other times there are only enough drops to dirty the cars and dampen the washing on the line. Then, just as we're getting optimistic, the clouds pick up speed and rush across the sky. A few kilometers across from the city, they pause and drop their load of life-giving rain . . . into the ocean.
Other times, when it does rain, it lands in the wrong places. It's wonderful to have wet gardens, but more than that, we need it in the catchment area.
As writers, we rely heavily on the rains of inspiration and new ideas. We pray for inspiration. We trust God for inspiration. We talk about needing inspiration. But do we really expect it to come? Will we be ready to catch the inspiration when it comes?
How often do we have a flash of brilliance but before we make use of it, we lose it? The idea that was so clever this morning is forgotten by the afternoon. When we go to Church, do we have an open notebook and a pen in our hands? Are we ready to jot down any ideas God gives us (which may have nothing to do with the sermon topic!)
When we read a novel, or surf the Web, do we have pens and paper near by, ready to scribble down any thoughts the Lord sends our way? If we don't write them down, we will forget them. If we pray for inspiration at the beginning of the day, do we walk for the rest of the day with expectant hearts, looking for ideas we can use in our writing?
In other words: When we pray, do we expect an answer?
Let's pray now:
Lord, I need inspiration. I can't do this on my own. Thank you for calling me to write for you. But Lord, I need ideas from You. Help us to pray in faith, believing You hear—then remind me to expect an answer. Amen.
Shirley M. Corder writes from the coast of South Africa. Whatever happens in her life seems to become the subject of a devotion. Visit her writer and personal website, or Rise and Soar, her site to encourage and inspire those in the cancer valley.