Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ. – Colossians 4:2-3
Part of my childhood we lived in a home at the base of a mountain community in the foothills of the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The name, Pine Brook Hills, might suggest grass-covered mounds, but hairpin turns and steep inclines required the use of snow tires and chains during the winter months and headlights set on high beam when the sun dipped below the horizon. These were, without question, full-fledged mountains. The homes, dotting the mountains every few miles, looked like fireflies darting between the stately evergreen trees from my front porch vantage point. Up in the mountains the fresh air always smelled of Christmas pine, and the views of the city, the sky, and the stars—they all evoked mouth open, breath-taking awe.
From one of those houses surrounded by pine trees too many to count, a mom and one of her three daughters faithfully prayed. The prayers drifted up to heaven like smoke from their chimney. The daughter, my younger sister’s classmate, asked God to draw my sister and me to Himself. The prayers went up. Life went on. Years went by.
Much later on, at just the right time, God answered those mountain prayers. Our culturally Buddhist family moved from the house at the base of the mountain in Boulder, Colorado clear across the ocean to Hong Kong. And there, in Hong Kong, my sister and I fully committed our lives to follow Jesus.
When I returned to Boulder to attend the University of Colorado, I spent the next five years teaching Sunday school at the church where Jill, the mom who prayed for us, served as the Director of Children’s Ministry. Our lives continued to crisscross. They moved to Italy when I moved to my first campus ministry assignment at UC Berkeley. Their continued prayers sustained me through the first years of campus ministry, then dating, engagement, and marriage. Life grew more complex as I entered motherhood. They faithfully prayed for each of my kids, and prayed for us each step of our cancer journey. The apostle John describes prayer in Revelation 5:8 as “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” The sweet aroma of faithful prayers continued to lift to the Father from Jill’s lips on our behalf.
Twenty years went by.
A few years back schedules finally lined up for our first in person reunion with Jill and family. I introduced two of my three kids to Jill and her husband, Jerry. We stayed overnight at their home in Grand Junction where the two ended up retiring. Sydney, the daughter who prayed, came over for dinner with her two kids. Sitting over chips and salsa at the kitchen counter, eyes brimming with tears, I thanked them both for praying for my sister and me all those years back. Their prayers of faith, by faith, changed everything. We savored both the dinner and the shared stories of God’s faithfulness in the good and hard times. Something about breaking bread together opens hearts and creates connection. God could use skywriting or angel proclamations to make known His will and His ways, but He chooses to use people and prayer to change lives.
As we drove away from their home the next morning, God renewed my heart to not give up on praying for those who are far away from knowing and following Jesus. My sister and I probably landed on the least likely list back in junior high and high school. But they simply asked, and God set into motion all the events to bring us to this point. This side of heaven we may not see exactly how He answers the prayers we pray. But each of us had someone who prayed for us. And each of us has people God has placed in our lives to pray for as well.
So my encouragement to all of us is to ask God to show us: who are four people we can commit to pray for by faith to come to faith. These are our “four by faith.” God hears prayer and He answers. Don’t give up. Keep on praying.
Vivian Mabuni is a national speaker and writer with a passion to see women and men influence the college campus, families, churches, communities and the world with hope and life found through intimacy with God. Her first book, Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts (Discovery House Publishers), released in April 2014. Her next book for WaterBrook Multinomah (a division of Penguin Random House) will release summer of 2019. With 29 years of ministry experience on staff with Cru, Vivian loves teaching about the Bible and practical application to ministry and life. Married 26 years to her husband, Darrin, they live in Mission Viejo, CA with their kids, Jonathan, Michael, and Julia and their German Shepherd, Koa. Vivian loves coffee, shoes, sushi and social media, so stay in touch with her at her website www.vivianmabuni.com or on Instagram/Twitter: @vivmabuni.