Praying to Stop an Untrustworthy Person

I was praying recently about a man who has shown himself to be untrustworthy and whose efforts to control the world around him have caused a lot of harm to a lot of people. It could have been any of a number of folks, I suppose.

“Father, stop him!” I prayed, and as soon as I said it, I knew I’d missed his heart.

Two things came quickly into my mind:

• The principle I’ve held for a few years that it’s easier to pray for the storm to change its path than to stop it altogether,

• The image of a man on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians getting knocked off his ass and turned from a persecutor into a preacher. “I didn’t stop him,” Father whispered.

And I realized that I need to change my prayer from “Stop him!” to “Change his path,” and even “Redeem him.”

As I considered this some more, it occurred to me that my Father is awfully good at redeeming irredeemable people, and bringing good through them who formerly brought evil.

I realized, not for the first time, that when I pray against people that Jesus died for, I’m doing it alone, not with my Father; that a much wiser path is to pray for the people and for their redemption.

I have permission to pray against their work if it’s hurting folks, but I have his presence and even his partnership as I pray for their redemption.

The Miracle Car

May I share a testimony with you?

For years, I’ve had an older Toyota sedan. Recently, through circumstances that aren’t part of this story, the car died, and we replaced it with the same model, but a year or two newer. (What can I say? I like some of the classic Toyotas.) I hadn't had a chance to sell the busted one yet.

Then the newer one died. My daughter was driving her sister home in it, and suddenly it seemed that the engine exploded: steam and smoke and scary noises burst from under the hood; the girls jumped from the car, steered it into a parking lot and called me to come rescue them.
I was able to drive it home, but just barely. It was horrible: it chugged and snorted and belched great clouds of white smoke and threatened to die on the half mile trip home. A friend looked at the engine and hung his head: “Cracked head,” he murmured, and shook his head. I was horrified: that wasn’t worth repairing.

Father whispered to me: “You’ve learned to trust me in circumstances where My provision comes before the problem does. Now can you trust me where you see the problem, but you don’t yet see My provision?” Hmm. This might be interesting.

Then we had a brainstorm! We could use the cylinder head from the dead car on the new car! That might work! Let’s look closely, and see if we can figure out how to do that!

So four of us gathered around to examine it. Only two of us had experience working on cars: one on a Honda, the other on a Volkswagen; the third guy & I could maybe change the oil, if we were desperate.

We lifted the hood. There was rust spattered all over the engine like blood, and I was sad all over again. “Well, let’s see where it’s cracked.” and we stuck the garden hose to the empty radiator. The idea was to fill the radiator, start the car, and see where the water leaked out: that was where the crack would be.

But before we could start the engine, we found the leak: a long crack on the top of the radiator! That was a much easier repair.

The four of us ran to the old car and checked: yep! Same size radiator. So over the next several hours, we removed both radiators, tested both radiators, and installed the one from the dead car into the living car, and filled it up. We started the engine: the same chugging and snorting and great clouds of smoke belched from the exhaust. How discouraging.

But then one of the guys pointed at the loose wires on the distributor, and asked, “Would that make a difference?” Two of the cylinders weren’t even firing. We re-attached those spark plug wires, and started the car again: it purred like a happy kitten.

I was floored. We’d gone from a completely dead car to a completely happy car in half a day, without spending a single dime. I’ve never seen that happen before!

Then Father reminded me: “Son, I’ve told you that I am your provision. Do you believe me?”

For the record: No, I don’t get every need met that way. The first car was still dead. And no, I don’t get all of my needs met in the way I want them met (like getting my classic car repaired for no cost at all!). But yes, I’m learning.