Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'
Jeremiah 33:3 NASB
I grew up in a denomination where congregational prayers were lead by one person, usually the preacher or a deacon, and where the members of the congregation simply bowed their heads in silent reverence. My first memory of a prayer that touched my heart came from my own grandfather, in his home during family devotionals. Grandpa was a man who believed in crying out to the Lord in a loud voice, and was never ashamed or timid to do so in front of anybody. His face was wet with his tears and his voice always trembled from his crying during these prayers. I could feel his passion, and knew even as a young child that these prayers were meaningful.
When I moved to Romania in 2001, I did not know any Romanian language, but I soon discovered how little this mattered for understanding their prayers. I will never forget the first service I attended, and how shocked I was when the congregation had begun to cry out to God in prayer, together, not in some unison memorized prayer from scripture or a prayer book, but together in one spirit, with everyone praying out loud at the same time. And I do mean loudly! My tears flowed freely as I was amazed at their passion, especially knowing how many of them had suffered for their faith during the years of communism (1945-1989), and who now prayed so earnestly, thanking the Lord for things that I often take so shamefully for granted. I am referring to things like the privilege to congregate in a church building to worship the Lord, good health, and sufficient food. And when they prayed for some current problem such as sickness, it seemed that they doubled the volume of their requests to God.
While I was in Romania during the winter of 2004, I was suddenly called back to the United States to take care of my mother who had broken her hip. And not only had she broken her hip, but she had also suffered a great loss in mental capability due to mental illness, and later on, due to strokes and her multiple sclerosis. In other words, my mother had become quite a handful to care for during this time, and for nine weeks I helped my stepfather with her constant care.
As my mother’s mental and physical status deteriorated to the point that she required further hospitalization, I felt uncertain and frustrated from not knowing exactly how long God wanted me to stay in Alabama with my mother. I had been involved in several mission projects in Romania before I had left, and knew that if I did not return there, that some of them might not be completed. These missions included a weekly Bible study with a group of young Christian Romanian Gypsy women, the upcoming vacation Bible school at our Romanian Baptist church, and a ten day long evangelism outreach campaign into the surrounding villages of Sibiu, where we had lived for the nearly two and a half years of our time in Romania. We had already been scheduled to return to the States in July, so if I went back to Romania in April, I would be able to spend the last three months in Sibiu, completing these projects.
But I just was not sure of what God wanted me to do. Sometimes I wish that God would just hand me a handwritten schedule every morning, telling me exactly what he wants me to do that day, hour by hour, but of course I am sure that if he did that it would probably scare me so badly that I would just opt to stay in the bed! During this time with my mother, the more uncertain I became, the more time I spent in prayer and Bible reading. I began reading a book by Bill Gothard, The Power of Crying Out, that encouraged me to not just pray silently, but to literally use my voice to God in the same manner that Paul encourages us to cry out “Abba, Father!” in Galatians 4:6 and Romans 8:15, or as the Psalmist does in Psalm 88:1-2 (NASB):
O LORD, the God of my salvation,
I have cried out by day and in the night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry!
How could crying out to God in an audible voice help me? I have to admit that at first I felt self conscious and silly for even trying. It had been difficult for me to get alone, so I would go to “my room” and turn on music while I began to cry out. Other times I would cry out to the Lord while driving in the car (with my eyes open, of course!). But an amazing thing happened soon after I started doing this. I began to feel a certain relief and peace come over me, and I began to really believe the verses that attest to God’s help when we cry out to Him, including the ones quoted below:
I love the LORD, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Psalm 116:1 NASB
The LORD hears when I call to Him. Psalm 4:3b NASB
Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter; I moan like a dove;
My eyes look wistfully to the heights;O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security. Isaiah 38:14 NASB
The children and I had been attending a church in Alabama that really believed in the power of prayer. The pastor there one Sunday encouraged the congregation to pray out loud to the Lord during the service for God to reveal His will for specific problems. This had been during the same time that my mother was quite literally “out of her mind” in the mental ward of the hospital, and also when I had been struggling to figure out if and when I should return to Romania or just to stay in Alabama with my mother. So during that service I cried out to the Lord for answers to two things: 1) that my mother’s mind would clear and 2) that I would hear a clear answer about the decision to stay or go.
After the service, I drove directly to the hospital to visit with my mother, and when I walked in the ward, the nurse told me that my mother’s mind was much clearer. Sure enough, when I entered her room, she was sitting up and smiling and making good sense when we talked. She was happy to see me and wanted to be rolled in her wheelchair to another room so that we could talk in the “day room”. After I took her there and sat down across from her, it was not long before she very plainly said that she was glad I had come to help her, and that she could not have done it without me, but that now she was looking forward to when things would return to normal and it would just be her and my stepfather living together without us being there. I could hardly believe that God had brought me such a specific answer to my prayers, and so quickly! I really felt like the Psalmist who said that the Lord hears when he calls to Him (Psalm 4:3b).
With such a direct answer that came to me from the Lord, I was back in Romania within a couple of weeks, able to finish the projects that had been planned. And on the day that I left my mother, who at the time had improved to the point of being able to use a walker and go back home, she hugged me tighter than I can ever remember her doing, and said that I would never know how much she really loved me. I will never forget that encounter, as it was less than a month after I left that she had several more strokes, and became paralyzed to the point of being totally immobile and bedridden in a nursing home. Now when I visit her, she can’t hug me or kiss me, or even have a meaningful conversation with me, so I know without a doubt that those last few weeks that I did spend with her before she totally lost her abilities to move and speak sensibly, were ordained by the Lord, and that during the difficult times God taught me how to really cry out to Him for specific answers to prayer. I encourage you to do the same, to cry out to God about whatever circumstances are in your life that need specific answers, and for the peace of God to comfort your heart and soothe any pain you might be feeling.
Copyright Deanne Ruedemann 2005