A lady at church shared a story with me. Her kids were a bit rambunctious at times but most of the times sat quietly in church and read the hymnals. Her little daughter liked to sing the words quietly to herself, often in her own tune. The lady thought it was enduring, and several people would turn and smile. But after the service one man literally grabbed her by the shoulders and scowled. “Your kids disrupted my worship. Kids don’t belong in church.” She stammered an apology but the man just humphed and walked away.
He would say loudly that kids should not be in church every Sunday and glare at her. Several people told her to ignore him – that he was just a crotchety man. His wife seemed to fade into the wallpaper each time he spoke up.
The lady went to her pastor and he said he had been praying for the man and suggested she do the same, but to keep bringing her kids. Every day for a year she prayed for him. He kept coming to church grouchy and growling.
Her pastor asked her how it was going. She told him, “The same.” He smiled. “Keep praying.”
Another year of prayer went by. Then one day, she heard the grouchy man’s wife say they had had to put their old dog to sleep. He had been ill for over two years, her husband’s constant companion.
My friend heard God’s prompting. Her neighbor’s dog had recently had puppies. She bought one of the puppies and took it over to the grouchy man’s house. She expected him to slam the door in her face. Tears sprung in his eyes as he took the puppy and held it to his cheek. All the anger melted from his face. His whole attitude began to change from that day on, and several weeks later he accepted Jesus as his Savior.
But more than that, my friend realized that her diligence in praying for this man she loathed had slowly changed her as well. Two healings came from out of that obedience to keep praying as her pastor instructed.
This Christmas season, look at those around you in church or in your office or in your neighborhood. Pray for the ones God prompts you to do so. Pray for anyone who has hurt you, or for whom you may be at odds with at the moment. Stay diligent and watch what God does in His perfect timing.