What happens when we cry out to God? Well, we know God listens attentively to our pleas. “You have heard the words of my mouth,” the psalmist proclaims (138:1).
Sometimes God answers with a dramatic intervention. A friend with inoperable cancer recovers. A wayward child encounters Christ in a life-changing way in prison. A basket of food shows up at the door when the cupboard is bare.
But other times God answers by empowering us to be agents of the change we are praying for. This was Queen Esther’s experience. King Ahasuerus had authorized the execution of every Jew in his land. Esther knew she was in a unique position to plead for her people, but she also knew how slim her chances were. The king could have killed her simply for approaching him unbidden.
Esther was justifiably “seized with mortal anguish” at the thought (Esther C:12), yet she believed that God was utterly trustworthy. And so she prayed for courage to do this daring thing. After days of fasting and prayer, Esther felt God’s grace helping her master her fear. And God did his part by softening the king’s heart. In the end, Esther’s intervention won a reprieve for her people.
Is there a problem you are begging God to solve? Consider that he may be asking you to take a step to make things better. Let’s say the environment in your office or parish is marred by gossip. Is there a small step you could take, like changing the subject or making a positive comment? Ask the Lord to build up strength within you as he did for Esther. Who knows? You might find new enthusiasm or the desire to get involved. You might even come up with the first steps of a plan and the courage to take them.
Of course, it pleases God when we cry out to him with our concerns, large and small. But he is even more delighted when we linger to ask how we can be part of the solution ourselves. So don’t be afraid to ask! He has promised not only to hear you but also to build strength within you to do what needs to be done.
“Lord, you always hear my prayer. Help me to draw on your strength to make things better.”
Bestow on us, we pray, O Lord, a spirit of always pondering on what is right and of hastening to carry it out, and since without you we cannot exist, may we be enabled to live according to your will.