Have you ever prayed the promise of Immanuel? Here’s what happens when we pray for God to be with us.
When You Pray
In staff meeting on Monday, I requested prayer for our daughter and grandson as they traveled that night. She would fly alone from Alaska to California with a toddler. A toddler whose last airplane trip resulted in six hours of frustration, tears, and screams (his, not hers).
She and her husband tried everything on the last trip to calm him, distract him, and console him. She even wondered if the airlines would kick them off the plane mid-flight for causing such a disturbance. And so we prayed that God would be with her as she traveled.
Throughout the day I continued to pray. Above all I wanted God to be with her as she traveled—providing for her needs. I neatly listed them for God: I prayed for safety, sleep (she chose the red-eye flight hoping that Abel would fall asleep), and no frustrations as she jockeyed a car seat, luggage, and a very rambunctious toddler.
Early Tuesday morning I texted her to find out how her trip had gone. “We leave tonight,” she texted back. I felt a little foolish, asking for prayer an entire day before her journey. But God would understand.
On Tuesday night, on her way to the airport, she texted. “I missed my flight. It was last night.” I missed the text, because I had already gone to bed. I missed all kinds of excitement that night as she frantically texted us, wondering what to do.
My heart sank when I saw the texts on Wednesday morning. As they drove to the airport in Anchorage, she called the airlines, who explained that yes, there could catch a flight on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, it would cost $1600 for the two of them. Sixteen-hundred dollars that no one in the family has.
Handled with Grace
But not coming would be unthinkable. After all, she’s the maid of honor in her sister’s wedding in two weeks.
I could understand her confusion about the time. It seems like most flights in Alaska leave around midnight. The boarding time gets listed as one day, and the flight time as the next. For the numerically challenged (like me), this tangle of numbers—times, different dates, flight numbers, etc. poses a scheduling nightmare.
As I scrolled through the series of texts, I discovered that within ten minutes of her first text, a miracle had taken place. Alaska Airlines had honored her ticket and wouldn’t charge them anything extra for missing their flight.
They would have a layover in Seattle, but the airlines wouldn’t charge her a thing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.When you pray the promise of Immanuel–God with us–unexpected things happen. #prayer #advent #fmfparty Click To Tweet
When I shared her experience during staff worship on Wednesday, my colleagues gasped when they heard what the airlines had done. “I’ve never heard of an airline company doing that before,” one of them said. “They’ll let you change your ticket before you fly for a fee, but not charge when you miss your flight by a day? That’s grace.”
When We Pray for God with Us
God answered my prayers on Monday in ways I never expected. Abel didn’t sleep until after the plane left Seattle. She had to lug her belongings around during her layover. Abel remained calm and the flight attendants didn’t ask them to step off the plane mid-flight.
Most miraculously, God was with her—he granted her a free second chance through the most unlikely of agents.
The results of prayer shouldn’t surprise me. When we pray and ask God to be with us, we claim the promise of Immanuel. The Jews weren’t expecting a Savior in the form of a baby. I shouldn’t expect God’s presence to follow my specifications, either.
This season I want to keep my heart open for the unexpected presence of Immanuel—no matter what form that presence takes.
This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!