Circle Maker Series: Think Long

As we end our Circle Maker series, I want us to learn one last concept:  Thinking long. We have already learned how to dream big and pray hard, now we need to practice thinking long.
We live in an instant-reward, instant-gratification world these days. We microwave frozen meals for dinner and eat instant noodles for lunch.  Even information is now easily at our fingertips via internet through our smart phones. Gone are the days when we had to trek to the library to get the information that we need or find a dictionary to get the meaning of a word.  Although the advancement of technology has its perks, it is also training us to be more impatient.
There is this pedestrian traffic light near our office that takes 99 seconds of waiting time before it turns green. The pedestrians usually start out by staring at the countdown.  99, 98, 97, 96, ...and then they start to get restless.  Little by little, the pedestrians would attempt to cross the street. Some will do a little back and forth marching, akin to playing patintero with the cars. The braver ones will just run for their dear lives, wishing and hoping that the cars would stop just in time. The fearful minority, which if often just me, would be left on the other side, continually staring at the countdown...36, 35, 34, 33...
Then one day, as I was left all alone waiting for the light to turn green, i realized something. 99 seconds is just a minute and a half. That's not a long wait, to be honest. Why do people risk their lives just to avoid waiting a minute and a half? Our quick-fix mindset teaches us that 99 seconds feel like an eternity and so we try to escape it if we could.
Don't we also have the same attitude towards prayer sometimes? We pray and we expect God to answer us immediately. We want quick answers and solutions to our problems. And after waiting with no word from the Lord, we get impatient and question the Lord. 
But you see, God answer our prayers at different times. Sometimes it takes a day but sometimes it can also take years. Other times, it can take even longer than our lifetime.
Towards the end of his life, Honi (the Circle Maker) was walking down a dirt road when he saw a man planting a carob tree. Always the inquisitive sage, Honi questioned him.  “How long will it take this tree to bear fruit?” The man replied, “Seventy years.”  Honi said, “Are you quite sure you will live another seventy years to eat its fruit?” The man replied, “Perhaps not.  However, when I was born into the world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather.  Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees”

Prayer is the inheritance that we receive, and the legacy that we leave.
Praying is very much like planting. Some plants grow fast while others may take a while. Those prayer that seemingly never gets answered in this lifetime are just like Carob trees. You may not see the fruit now but the generations after you will reap the rewards of your prayer.
While I was reading the book about ‘Thinking Long’, I remembered my maternal Grandmother. She is one of the most prayerful women I have ever known. My cousins and I would always ask her to pray for important things in our lives because we often say “When Amah prays, God answers!”.  And as I read about prayer being an inheritance, I started to wonder how much of the blessings that our family is reaping now is due to my Amah’s prayer some 50 years ago. 
What legacy do you want to leave your children? More importantly, what lives do you want your future generation to live? We need to start praying now for our children and the generations after them. Prayer is the best legacy we can leave our family.
I want to share a story with you that the Mark Batterson, the author of the Circle Maker, shared in his book. When he was 13 years old, Mark got very sick and was taken to the ICU. At that time, their family just started attending Calvary Church – a church with thousands of members. One Sunday prior to the day Mark was admitted to the ICU, their family met Mr. Shmidgall. Mark's parents remembered how hospitable he was and decided to give him a call at 2am to request for prayers for Mark. In less than 10 minutes, Mr. Smidgall was already in the ICU praying over Mark.
And this is what Mark said “When he laid his hands on my head, I remember thinking there is no way God won’t answer his prayer.  He had a familiarity with God that was disarming.  He had a faith in God that was reassuring.  He could have called a staff member to make the visit. He didn’t. he could have waited until morning. He didn’t. He settled for a short night’s sleep on a short notice to pray for a thirteen-year old kid who was fighting for his life. Little did he know that this thirteen-year old kid would one day marry his daughter. Little did he know that this thirteen-year old kid would one day give him his first grandchild. There is no way he could have ever known. But that is the glorious mystery of prayer”
Little steps of obedience will give big pay-offs in the future
I want to believe that Mr. Smidgall was already praying for his daughter’s lifetime partner even when she was young. Little did he know that when he prayed over Mark that day out of obedience for the Lord, God was already at work in answering his prayers for his daughter’s lifetime partner. The act of obedience may totally be unrelated to the answer that you will get in the future, but that’s how God works. He loves surprising us. We just need to be sensitive to His leading and obey.

We can never tell how the prayers that we offer today, will be used by God greatly to mold our lives and those of our future generations in the years to come.

Think Long.

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