The Simplest of Prayers — The Smallest of Answers — The Whisper of God
The day was sweltering. The country in Central Asia where I lived was a country of extremes. The weather was no exception, with cold brutal winds and snow in the winter and a hot relentless sun in the summertime (without the relief of rain for months). It was smack in the middle of summer, and I had spent a long, tiresome day trying to keep my two children (who were under the age of four) happy and cool. As the day waned, irritation overcame me, and an internal dialogue ran through my head.
Why on earth am I in this country if all I do is stay at home? How can I possibly interact well with my neighbors when I have small unhappy children who need to nap, and who need clothes washed, diapers changed, and meals prepared for them?”
Pointless might have run through my mind a couple of times.
Finally, the highlight of my day came: team meeting. I say that with no sarcasm at all. Team meeting meant to me blissful interaction with adults and adult conversation with adults who were making a difference in the world. Perhaps I could live vicariously through them. I gathered up my daughter and sent my son to go find his shoes. As I buttoned on my long black coat, the bitterness rose that I had to put on a coat to go out in 100-degree heat. I wrapped my headscarf around my hair and tucked it around my body so it could not fall off. It was then that I said a simple prayer out of desperation, “Lord, I just really want to be used here. Please, use me today.”
I put my daughter in her stroller and headed out our gate for the 15-minute walk to my teammates’ house where we would have our weekly meeting. My son bounded next to me swinging a stick in his hand with happiness radiating from him, blissfully unaware of his mother’s internal struggle. I wished I could siphon off just a fraction of his energy and joy.
We turned up the steep hill near our house. I pushed the stroller with all my might, and I heard music playing in a courtyard nearby. I concluded that a wedding must have been going on. At the top of the hill, I turned and left the paved road for the flat dusty path that would take me across the sports arena and onto the much-desired, tree-lined side of the city where our teammates lived. Just as I was entering the sports arena, I saw a woman gesture to me.
She had her veil completely pulled back, exposing her face, which was highly unusual for this part of the country. She impatiently gestured (again) for me to come to her. I looked over my shoulder, trying to figure out if it was someone else she wanted. Why would she be beckoning to me? I cautiously approached the plump, elderly woman, who was breathing heavily. When I arrived next to her, she shot out a wrinkled hand and grabbed the side of my stroller, hanging on for dear life. She took—heaved in, actually—several deep breaths and then asked if I could walk her across the sports arena.
We plodded across the dusty, parched ground. As she regained control of her breathing, she slowly chatted with me about how she had been at a wedding and had wanted to go home. When she started out, she realized that she was feeling very weak, which is why she had beckoned for my help. She asked me where I lived and why I was here. I told her that God had brought us here to serve her people and help them rebuild their nation. She smiled and patted my hand.
We finally reached the other side, where she took another deep breath and said that she was not far from home and was fine now. Together we crossed the street, and as we parted I gave the traditional, “Good bye. Go with God.”
As I watched her plod home and enter a gate a couple doors down, I realized that she had been the answer to my prayer—and I to hers. “Use me today, Lord—use me here,” is a simple prayer, but it became one I uttered often during my time in Central Asia.
Question to consider: How have you seen God work through the simple prayer “Use me today, Lord—use me here”?