Prayer, a cornerstone of our Christian life

1 Samuel 1:1-20 – Prayer, a cornerstone of our Christian life, by Rev Colin Pretorius.

Prayer is a cornerstone of our Christian life. It is how we communicate with God, how we talk to Him, how we convey our thoughts, our needs and our thanks to Him. It is in prayer that we find strength and comfort. But prayer can also be difficult at times. There are times when there seems to be a bit of a blockage, when perhaps you feel that the words are just not coming, or you don’t know what to pray for or how to pray. And you know, some believers leave prayer only for the desperate times. Perhaps you’ve been in that position. Maybe in times of sadness you’ve felt lost for words and your prayer life suffers as a result. Perhaps you think that you can only speak to God about the spiritual things in life and not about the practical things. Maybe you think that God shouldn’t really be bothered with the daily things that go on in your life. Or perhaps you’ve even wondered if prayer really works – if it is effective.

Let me tell you about answered prayer and a man who owned a little grocery store. It was the week before Christmas after the Second World War and it was a hard time for everyone. A woman whom he’d never seen before came into the store and asked him for enough food to make up a Christmas dinner for her children. He looked at the tired-looking woman and asked her how much she could afford to spend. She said “my husband was killed during the war. I have nothing to offer but a little prayer.” “Write it on paper” he replied dismissively, expecting her to leave. But to his surprise, the woman plucked a piece of paper out of her pocket and handed it to him over-the-counter saying “I did that during the night watching over my sick baby.” Before the grocer could recover from his surprise he took the piece of paper and then regretted having done so, for what would he do with it? Then a bright idea came to him. With­out reading it, he placed the piece of paper on scale and said “Let’s see how much food this is worth.”

Much to his surprise the scale would not go down when he put a loaf of bread on the other side of the scale. To his confusion it would not go down even though he kept adding food. He was getting embarrassed and flustered because people were watching him. Finally said “well, that’s all the scales will hold anyway. You’ll have to put it in yourself, I’m busy.” With what sounded like a gasp or a little sob, she took the bag and started packing in the food, wiping her eyes on her sleeves every time her arm was free to do so. He tried not to look, but he could not help seeing that he had given her a pretty big bag and that it was not quite full. So he tossed a large cheese down the counter, but he did not say anything. The woman thanked him profusely as she left, leaving him to ponder what had happened… Shaking his head in puzzlement, he looked at the scale again and saw that it was broken. That grocer is an old man now, but he still scratches his head and shakes it back and forth with the same puzzlement. He never saw the woman again, yet for the rest of his life he remembered her better than anyone he had ever met. He knew it wasn’t just his imagination, for he still had the slip of paper on which the woman’s prayer had been written: “Please Lord, give us this day our daily bread.[1]

[1] Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 1046–1047.