The message light on my cell phone blinked persistently as I hurried off the jet and through the airport. I could feel the irritation rising as I dodged between the food vendors and the waiting lines of passengers. Why had all these callers chosen that one hour to leave their messages, and how long would it take to handle their business? I had just 45 minutes to find something to eat, send several e-mail notes, and find my new departure gate.
In an almost-quiet corner I pressed the phone to my ear, determined to make short work of my messages. Several were predictable, quickly noted, and deleted: call the office; send the report; adjust the day of the committee. But then came one that warmed and gladdened my harried heart: “Bill, I don’t know where in the world you are just now, but I just wanted to leave a word to say that I’ve been praying for you each day, and asking God to give you a sense of His presence with you in what you’re doing.”
I turned my head to hide the tears welling up in my eyes and to whisper a prayer of gratitude for the friend who left the welcomed words. Yes, it was a sign of his affection for me—an old and prayerful friendship stretching back nearly 25 years. But it was also an explanation for the remarkable things that had occurred on that trip. I had noted the unusually receptive listeners in the churches where I preached; the easy agreement among colleagues on the matters we discussed; the difficulties smoothed by a powerful but unseen hand. No other account made sense of the last few days save that I had been lifted and carried, not only by a jet but by the prayers of those who love me.
A century ago, Ellen White reminded us: “It is a part of God’s plan to grant us, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not bestow did we not thus ask” (The Great Controversy, p. 525). And I believe this promise to be especially true when we intercede for those the Spirit calls to mind, even while I confess I don’t fully understand the manner in which He accomplishes the good we seek for them. In faithfulness we pray for each other, trusting in the greater faithfulness of Him who holds all things in His powerful hands.