Prayer, Prison & God's Provision
From A Small Price to Pay (Part 6)
2: God provides
From Chapter 12
I drew my New Testament from my pocket and opened it. What a miracle that I had been allowed to keep my pocket Testament! I had heard stories of believers who, upon asking to keep their Bibles, were put into solitary confinement merely for making the request. For me to be able to keep my Testament was indeed a special privilege.
“What is that?”
I looked at my cellmate. “It is a New Testament.”
He recoiled instantly.... “No! You will not force your beliefs on me. You may read, but not out loud.”...
One Sunday, after having been in the same cell for more than a week, I said, “Aaron, today is Sunday. I would like to read out loud for ten minutes. I am used to hearing these words, and I get comfort from hearing them out loud.”
I waited for his response. Over the past several days, we had shared about our lives and were becoming friends.
“All right,” he finally said. “But not more than ten minutes.”
I turned to the Sermon on the Mount. I figured I could read the three chapters in ten minutes.
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ “ I began, “ ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn...“
Aaron was completely silent....
Soon I was in chapter seven, reading verse seven. “ ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.’ ...As I read about a son asking for bread and fish, I became aware of Aaron’s interest.
“Stop!” I was startled by the tone of Aaron’s voice.
“What does that mean? I mean, you read that if we ask for something, God will grant our wish.... Your God will answer your prayers?” he persisted...
I nodded. “I know God answers prayers. He has answered many of my prayers.”
Aaron snorted. “Then why doesn’t He answer your prayers and get you out of here? And take me with you while He’s at it!”
I thought for a moment. “I am not really asking God to take me out of prison,” I told him. “I could have been released right after my arrest.”
“What?” Aaron was startled. “How is that?”
“After I was arrested, an officer came to interrogate me. He asked me all kinds of questions. When he had finished his questions, he asked me if I wanted to go home. ‘Of course I would like to go home,’ I said. ‘I have a wife and three small boys at home.’
‘Then tell me this,’ he said. ‘What will you do when you are home?’
“That was the trap, and I knew it. He wanted me to say, ‘I will go home and take care of my family.’ What I did say was, ‘If I am released, I will continue the work that I was asked to do.’”
Aaron was interested. “What was that?”
“I was commissioned by the church to travel around Russia and encourage the believers, and I take that seriously. So does my wife. She realizes it means we will be separated many times, and she will have to raise our boys by herself. Yet she agrees, for she knows this is the will of God.”
“What does all this have to do with you being arrested?” Aaron wanted to know.
“Well, this was the work that the officer knew I was doing. He wanted me to tell him I would go home and stop traveling around to other places, preaching....So you see, I am not praying to be able to go home. I am praying that I can continue the work of God, even here in prison.”
Aaron thought for several moments. “For everyone that asketh, receiveth. Is that what it really says?”
I again nodded my head. “Yes.”
Then he laughed. “Then I will tell you what to ask. Ask your God to send me some apples. In the two years I have been in prison, not once have I tasted an apple.” He looked keenly at me, challenging me.
I pondered this request
“Well!” he demanded. “Are you going to ask or not? You just read that if you ask, your God will hear you. You told me all about your arrest, and that you are not praying that you can go home. So, ask for apples, at least.”
Was he mocking me? Or was he mocking my God?
“All right,” I agreed. “I will ask.”
“Pray out loud,” he commanded. “I want to hear you ask your God for apples.”
I knelt on the floor beside my cot. Aaron sat close to me so he could hear.
“Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” I began, “I am glad you have always been attentive to the needs of your people. You kept your people in the wilderness when they left Egypt, and you gave them manna from heaven to eat. When they asked for meat, you sent them quail. You heard every prayer from the hearts of those who were truly seeking you.
“Now, we have a request. You hear the desire of Aaron, a descendent of Abraham. He is asking for apples. I know everything is possible for you, and he does want an apple very much. So I ask that you grant his request.”
Aaron whispered in my ear. “Ask Him for Antonov apples. That’s the kind I want.”
I concluded my prayer. “All right, Lord, he is asking for Antonov apples. I know that with you all things are possible. Please answer this man’s request. Please answer soon. I ask this all for your glory and in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
Aaron looked at me skeptically as I rose from my knees. “Did your God hear your prayers?”
“Yes, Aaron, I am sure. I have no doubt at all.”
“Then when will the apples arrive? How will they get in here? Who will send them?”
I smiled. “I do not know, Aaron. My job is not to tell God how to answer prayer. My responsibility is to ask in faith and let Him take care of the details.”
* * *
Two weeks later, our cell door opened and an officer told a man to enter our cell. To Aaron’s amazement, and even to mine, the man thumped a box of apples on the cot. Both men left without a word of explanation.
“Apples!” Aaron breathed in awe. “A whole box full of apples!” Amazed, he looked at me, and then back at the apples.
My heart was beating with joy. Inside, I was shouting, “Thank you, God! Your name is wonderful. You have answered my prayer so this man would know that you are God and that you hear the prayers of your people. Thank you, Jesus!”
Aaron sorted through the box of apples. “Antonov! There are several Antonov apples in here!” I heard the awe in his voice....
“Let’s thank God for hearing our prayers!” I closed my eyes and prayed.
* * *
That night as I got out my New Testament and prepared to read, Aaron said, rather hesitantly, “Will you read out loud? Would you... read from that Sermon on the Mount?” Again my heart beat with joy as I turned to the precious words...
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment [in light of eternity], is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
In a world that is fast rejecting God's Word or twisting His Truth, we need to prepare for unthinkable challenges to our faith and families. This book will help us stand firm in Christ and gratefully "pay the small price" of suffering with Him! Like a beacon of light ahead of us waits an eternity of joy with Him!
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