Miracles happen through prayer

Do you believe in prayer? Have you had the joy of answered prayers?

The Bible speaks much about prayer. Indeed its concept of life is one of reliance on the Creator–to converse with God, to wait for His answers, to rely upon His promises, and to walk with His enabling. A life without prayer is a life of instability. Says the apostle: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6, NKJV).*

Monday, May 8, 2000. My husband, Joshua, and I were among the 65 students qualified to take the DATE (Doctoral Admission Test in Education) at the University of the Philippines. We sat waiting for the proctor to come and give instructions for the test procedures. Just before we were given the test papers, the proctor pointed us to the reality confronting us. “Look around,” he said. “There are 65 of you, but only 21 will be selected. So just see, who among you could be accepted!” A sigh of despair could be heard all around. Joshua looked at me, and all he could say was, “Lina, pray. Just pray!”

We both bowed our heads and quietly prayed. This was no moment to despair. This was the time to grasp God’s promise, “‘And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you’” (Luke 11:9). I prayed within my heart, but with a certainty as if I were speaking to God personally: “God, I am asking and knocking at your door. Please do open it for us. We beg you to grant us your mercy.”

Did not Jesus promise, “‘If you ask anything in My name, I will do it’” (John 14:14)? So I asked for knowledge and wisdom so that we would be able to answer the test well. I asked God to hold my hand and guide it in writing the correct answers. Yes, He was there helping both of us. When the result was announced, 16 out of the 65 applicants passed the test. Two of them were us.

Then came registration. I was shocked to see that all the major subjects and cognates were listed for Saturdays. I talked to the chairperson for a possibility of offering the subjects in the second semester on week days. “No” was his answer. For 10 years these courses had been offered on Saturdays, and such a tradition was beyond change. I begged him, but the more I begged, the more firm was his “No.” “I won’t be able to study at the university,” I said sorrowfully and left his office crying.

Joshua had a better way. “Don’t worry,” he said, “and let us take this matter to the Lord in prayer.” After much prayer, I wrote a formal request to the university and to the professors who taught those subjects. When the second semester schedule was posted, I was very happy to see that one professor had moved her Saturday class to weekdays. In the class she said, “Carol, your other professor (Dr. A) does not want to move her class to weekdays, so I don’t know what you will do.” Well, one step at a time. Back to prayer again. There’s not a mountain that prayer, springing out of faith in a living God, cannot move.

A few days later, a friend, brushing past me, said that she almost missed Dr. A’s class. I was surprised. “But this is not Saturday, and Dr. A has her class only on Saturdays.” “I don’t know what happened,” my friend said. “At the last moment Dr. A. changed her class from Saturday to a weekday.” Of course I knew what had happened. My Lord must have spoken to her about my need. Is prayer not the most powerful tool in the hands of a believer?

As foreign students, we were required to pay what the university called an Education Development Fund (EDF) fee of US $500.00 per student. That meant US $1000.00 total, which was beyond our capacity to pay. Imagine our dismay when we were told that this is a fee due at the beginning of each semester–seven to eight semesters in all! Again we prayed, and wrote a letter for a waiver. Our request was rooted in faith in the Lord who promised, “‘But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you’” (John 11:22); “‘Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them’” (Mark 11:24). Living faith makes the mountains of hardship disappear or at least easy enough to bear. One day after we submitted our petition, the university granted us the waiver, and this happened each semester until we graduated.

A couple of weeks after enrolling, we realized that each of us needed a computer to do our research. Our sponsoring policy permitted only one computer for both, but it seemed inadequate to accommodate our assignments. We worked out a tentative arrangement: I used the computer from 6:00 p.m. till 12:30 a.m., then Joshua had his turn till 6:00 a.m. This went on for three months. We realized that this schedule was not working. It was hurting our health. So the only way we knew was to take our problem to the Great Problem Solver. Doesn’t Matthew 21:22 say, “‘And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive’”?

Joshua then sent an email to his friends. An old friend, having not seen him since college days back in 1985, responded the next day and said, “A laptop is on its way. A friend leaving for the Philippines is carrying it, and you will get it in three days.”

One important lesson that I learned studying at a public university is that we can’t chart our path without absolute dependence on God. Without prayer, we are cut off from the central source of strength and supply and power. My experience taught me that God is always there to lift me up when I am down. He always opens the way for me whenever I encounter problems. Through many such miracles, my husband and I were able to complete our doctoral programs. Our life and ministry is an open testimony to the power of prayer and of faith in a living, never-failing God.

Caroline V. Katemba Tobing (Ph. D., University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus) is the chairperson of the Department of Languages at Universitas Advent Indonesia in Bandung, Indonesia. Her email address: ctobing@unai.edu.

* Bible texts in this article are quoted from the New King James Version