As I sat taking my pre-calculus mid-term exam, I suddenly was aware of the instructor looking over my shoulder. I wasn’t cheating, so had no idea why he chose my shoulder to peer over. I didn’t have to wait long to find out. He pointed to the problem I was working on and said, “That graph is wrong.” The graph for this particular problem could only be drawn one of two ways. If I had it wrong, there was only one option to make it right. I quickly erased my work and redrew the graph correctly.
Two more times during the course of this exam the instruction stopped by my desk and made comments about my work. I had never before experienced an instructor offering help during a test. Sitting at the front of the room and far too nervous to look around, I couldn’t tell if the instructor was helping anyone else.
As I walked to my car after the exam was over, I marveled. Was this God’s way of answering prayer? For weeks I’d been praying about passing this class. I’d been talked into taking pre-calculus instead of a lower math class that would have filled the requirement for my business major. High school math made sense to me and I’d done fairly well in it. Calculus seemed beyond my scope of what made sense and I was struggling with the homework. I was soon to find out what had happened was no fluke, but God’s direct intervention to answer my prayers.
As I studied for the final exam, there was one type of problem I simply could not wrap my brain around. I ultimately decided I was not going to spend any more time studying a problem I could not seem to understand and hope my performance on the balance of the exam would make up for this one problem I would not complete.
When the time for the exam came, I started working through the problems. Again, the instructor stopped by my desk and made a few comments on my work. This time I could see he was also commenting on other students’ work. When I finally finished, I handed him my test and he asked if I was done. I told him I was except for one problem that I just did not understand. He handed the exam back to me, told me the problem was easy and he would help me. Stunned, I took it back to my desk and he walked me through the problem step by step. I handed the paper in and walked to my car. This time I was certain God had intervened to answer my prayers.
Today, I don’t recall the grade I received. Whatever it was, I passed. Far more important than passing the class was the lesson I learned about asking God for help in prayer.
God pays attention
One man I know believes God set the world in motion and thereafter has intervened very little. This has not been my experience. God has shown me He pays attention and I believe He intervenes regularly. Sometimes I wonder if we don’t experience God more regularly in our lives because we spend so little time in prayer.
The smallest details are not beyond God’s care
Had I not passed my pre-calculus class, the consequences would have been minimal. It would have cost me several hundred dollars, some time and perhaps a little bit of embarrassment at the failure. Those are not life-altering consequences, especially when compared to some of the other requests we pray about – healing of a child’s terminal illness, stopping the killing of untold hundreds of thousands of pre-born babies each year, return of a prodigal spouse as divorce looms, or peace in war-torn areas like Syria and Iraq. In the midst of those requests with significant, life-altering consequences, our God is a loving Father who cares for the smallest of details.
God can respond in ways we might never imagine
When I prayed for God’s help in passing my math class, all my imagined scenarios revolved around me learning the material. Never once did I imagine God would use my instructor during the exams to ensure I passed the class. In all the times I’ve told this story, no one has ever mentioned they had the same or even similar experience. When we present our needs to God, we make room for God to respond in ways we cannot imagine. As a Heavenly Father who loves each of us deeply, I believe God delights not only in meeting our needs and even some of our wants, but also in surprising and amazing us with the way He does so.
I’ve always wished I’d approached the instructor after the class was finished to ask him if he had any idea how God had used him in such an unlikely manner to answer my prayers. I don’t even know if he was a believer. Over the years, I’ve thought about him periodically and prayed he would know the awesome power of God in the same way God used him to teach me about prayer.
How has God shown you His power and concern for the details of your life?