It was undoubtedly the oddest prayer request I have ever received. This was many years ago when Sue, my wife, and I were still living in Richmond. There was a lady in our church named Maya. She was married to Carlos. Maya had only been a Christian for a few years, coming to faith in a service in our local church. Maya came from a pretty rough background, but she was serious about serving the Lord. She sought Him diligently.
One of the passions of her heart was to have a Christian home. She wanted a believing husband, and for her children to follow Christ. But Carlos was not a Christian, and her kids struggled with matters of the faith. So Maya prayed. In prayer, she felt like the Holy Spirit spoke to her heart and gave her a promise: “You will have a Christian husband.” She rejoiced at this. For several years she prayed for Carlos, witnessed to him, and invited him to church. However, Carlos was basically only interested in church if there was a potluck dinner or church picnic. Spiritual things really weren’t an interest of his. He was more concerned about his drinking buddies, sports, and having fun. Church and Jesus were dim shadows in his life.
As I said, Maya prayed for Carlos for several years. But when it seemed like nothing was happening on that front, she came to Sue and me for help. Here is what ensued…
Maya came to us after church one Sunday and asked if we could meet to address something urgent and pressing. So we made arrangements to talk with her. When got together, Maya shared her burden, the difficulty of being a Christian wife living with an un-Christian husband. She pointed out Carlos’s virtues, and vices. She shared her heart for having a Christian family. She also shared the “word from the Lord,” the promise she felt like God had given her: “You will have a Christian husband.”
But this had not happened. And Carlos didn’t seem anywhere close to coming to Christ. So she faced a dilemma. She was not doubting God. She believed His promise to her. But Carlos was not getting with the plan. He just didn’t get what his part was supposed to be. So what was she to do?
Sue and I looked at each other. We were perplexed. What could she do, except to continue to pray for Carlos and trust God for His salvation? But Maya had come up with a different solution.
She told us, “I firmly believe God wants me to have a Christian husband. But it doesn’t seem like Carlos is ever going to get saved. So I want you to pray with me that God will give me another husband.”
Immediately I saw red flags all over the place. I tried to gently explain the Scriptures to her about divorce. No, Carlos was not a Christian. And yes, there were sinful behaviors in his life. But he was basically a good man. He was faithful to her. He didn’t abuse her. Etc. But Maya interrupted me to let me know that I was way off base.
“Oh no,” she said. “I do not want to divorce Carlos. I couldn’t do that. But I do want a new husband.”
Here she paused before dropping the bombshell (and it was an atomic bomb!).
“I want you pray with me that God will kill Carlos!”
And she was serious. Literally, dead serious.
My! My, oh, my!
Needless to say, our counseling with Maya took a somewhat different course than anything I could have expected. And God didn’t kill Carlos. Neither did Maya.
This story prompts me to share another prayer-request encounter, although somewhat less lethal in tone.
Over the years, I have been involved in children’s ministry many times. But it is not my greatest strength, nor passion. And as I have gotten older, I have done it less and less. But I am still willing to fill in and help out when needed.
A couple of years ago the lady who was scheduled to do our children’s church service came up sick at the last minute on Sunday morning. This resulted in my wife and I both pitching in to help out. In the children’s church there were two brothers in attendance that morning—Patrick and his older brother Michael. As I was taking prayers requests, young Patrick, at that time being about 3 years old, spoke up.
“Mr. Victor, would you pray for my dog?”
Now, in my many years of experience of working with kids I have prayed for dogs, cats, gerbils, birds, turtles, snakes, and even rats. Kids can accumulate a virtual menagerie of assorted fauna, and each sniffling hamster or car-crippled mangy canine is precious to their little hearts. So they pray. And they ask for prayer in church. So, I was not really surprised at Patrick’s request. Indeed, praying for a dog is pretty tame, and safe.
“Okay, Patrick. What is your dog’s name.”
“His name is Blackie.”
“And what is wrong with Blackie.”
Deep pain furrowed the brow of young Patrick. With heartfelt compassion and concern, Patrick began to describe the grave sickness of his beloved dog. He told how much Blackie meant to him. You could sense that he was truly fearful about Blackie’s condition. Would he lose his precious pet? There was worry on his face, and alarm in voice. I think I detected a slight quaver in the timbre of his voice. Young children fall in love with their pets very readily. And the thought of losing an animal so dear to his heart was heartbreaking to his innocent mind.
So… I prayed for Blackie. I prayed with all the intensity and fervor that my heart could muster. It almost broke my heart to think of little Patrick losing his beloved Blackie. I prayed in faith, knowing that God Almighty, though the Lord of the entire universe, takes note of a sparrow that falls to the ground. So surely our Heavenly Father would reach down and touch the suffering body of a child’s beloved pet. I prayed in hope. I prayed with compassion. I prayed with empathy.
Well, we finished the prayer time, and continued with the rest of the service. Things went well, and the kids seemed to have a good time. And for me… Whew! It was over.
As the kids began to file out of the room, Michael, several years Patrick’s senior, came up to me and sorta tugged on my sleeve. I looked down to see Michael staring up at me with great intent and purpose. And this is what he said…
“Mr. Victor, we don’t have a dog!”