Day 2 at the airport began with the joy of reunion with my team, and catching up on the past 6 months. But the mood deteriorated minute by minute as my chances of getting out on the same flight began slipping away. Two others on our team were in the same boat as me, flying standby. One bailed, and the other was about to.
I talked with Teri about how the difficulty in understanding this when literally hundreds of people were praying for us. And while it was a small matter in the grand scheme of things, it mattered.
We compared it to Teri’s situation, dealing with cancer; in spite of literally thousands of prayers going up globally for her, Teri was not healed (though thankfully on the road to recovery). We puzzled over the mysteries of unanswered prayer, from the frustrating inconveniences to life-threatening ordeals. Puzzling scenarios that defied explanation, yet we believed were in God’s design.
By now, our team of 10 was scattered all around the large waiting area. I wandered over to discuss options with another standy-by-ee, about to bail. We had one option to fly into Amsterdam and catch a train then down to Brussels—an option with a $120 price tag she wasn’t so willing to pay. Would I? I offered to go research train schedules while we waited, and she’d discuss it with her husband.
I headed back to where Teri sat with my computer. As I walked I wondered if I should post requests again on FB, and email, but wasn’t “feeling it.” All this communication was getting kind of ‘old,’ wasn’t it? Was I over-communicating? And though I didn’t want to admit it, to be honest, I had just lost faith in that course of action.
Why was I soliciting prayer? Was it as simple as just wanting to get on the plane? Was I feeling sorry for myself, or fearful that my prayers wouldn’t work? I didn’t know, but until I did, I knew it would do no good to pray without faith for something I didn’t believe in.
“Yes, I don’t think I can pray in good conscience,” I concluded, and nearly tripped as the Lord interrupted to agree, “Yes, don’t pray.”
I stopped in my tracks, stunned. Was that really God saying that? Linda and Hannah, sitting a few feet in front of me, looked up in surprise. “You ok?”
I blurted out the update. As Linda began to say, “We need to pray,” I corrected her: “No, I think the Lord just told me not to pray.”
You can imagine the look on their faces, but I was so convinced, I didn’t have time to explain. I headed over to Teri; she would have more context because of our previous conversation.
“You can excommunicate me later but I think that’s what I heard!” I called over my shoulder.
I repeated to Teri what I had told Linda and Hannah. She agreed that it made sense and it resonated completely with her. Motivation of the heart was key.
“I need to go for a walk,” I told Teri. “I need to sort this out more.” She nodded and off I went, pacing the long corridor of the international airport, asking God to show me my heart. Linda caught up with me to see if I was ok, and I asked her to pray with me, and we did.
For some reason as we finished praying, I began to sing some hymn I knew. Up and down the corridors of the airport, we then marched, arm in arm. Not militantly, more like tourists, only we were looking for something no airport shop could sell. I had the feeling that whatever I couldn’t figure out in this scenario was being healed just by that simple act.
As we strolled we sang whatever hymns and praise songs we could remember, and then turning at the end of the corridor to sing some more. On one turn, I joked to Linda, “He didn’t say not to worship!” And the light bulb came on.
Don’t pray, worship.
I thought of Paul held prisoner with Silas, and how they prayed from their jail cell. Not exactly comparable circumstances, but I too was being held captive by a system and needed to get free. Freedom would come with the sacrifice of praise.
We laughed, and all the frustration of the past two days evaporated. Joy, lightness and delight flooded in. I remembered the verse I had read when I first set out, in the coffee shop:
“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”—Ps. 8:2
I thought of all those negative thoughts that were trying to penetrate - put to silence by praise.
Linda was reassured that I hadn’t lost my mind, and I had my prayer of faith. Whatever happened now, I would continue to worship, and see when God would open up a flight for me.
Boarding began, we waved our team off, the doors closed, and we waited. Within minutes the announcement came: no seats. I was sent home once again. Only this time with a pearl of great price.