Here is a witty saying that came home to me with the force of reality some time ago – ‘Be careful what you pray for, it might come true.’

My friend from overseas concluded her letter with a prayer that I would have a lovely weekend, filled with warmth and sunshine. At a casual glance it seemed her prayer would come true.

For many months an unusual autumn had led into an unseasonal winter that was balmy, dry and filled with sunshine. We ate breakfast on the open verandah every morning, drenched with sunshine and wearing sun-glasses against the brightness when, in fact, we should have been shivering over a fire because of the frost outside.

To the casual eye it was picture postcard perfect but the earth was dry and our trees and shrubs and the gardens around the house were in serious distress. Many of the wintertime bulbs would not flower and give their wonderful perfume unless they had seriously cold rain before they developed.

Most of the country a little further out was in severe drought. In many communities, even drinking water was so tainted it was almost undrinkable and once lush gardens were dust bowls. On the farms, sheep and cattle had been sold off or were barely alive. Families were in crises both emotionally and financially.

Our area was not as bad as that but we needed rain, too. We shared their longing and their prayers for rain.

Which brings me back to the thought in my friend’s letter. She could not see our needs as God sees them so her prayers were for the wrong thing and isn’t it true that so many of our prayers are just like that. We pray for what we think is needed but we do not see the needs as God sees them.

Nevertheless God did answer her prayer for my lovely weekend but He answered it His way. The rain slipped in quietly with clouds and then cold winds all day and all night. We got the drenching we longed for and a proper start to winter.

More than that, it taught me to pray as Jesus prayed instead of praying for what I think is best. Facing terrible agony He prayed to His Father for relief but He concluded with these words:  (Luke 22:41)

Do you pray that way, too?

Elizabeth Price