I have a profound memory from my teenage years of one man’s faithful prayers. He refused to stop praying even when it seemed as if God wasn’t listening. Every Tuesday night I’d go with my mum to our church prayer meeting. Ours wasn’t a very large church, so perhaps 30 or so of us met every week. One of my favorite members was a gentle older man from way up north in the Highlands. I’ll call him Angus. He always wore a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches. His skin was ruddy from the cold north wind he’d endured when he used to farm up there. Every Tuesday he prayed the same prayer. He asked God for his wife’s salvation. She was a lovely woman who occasionally came to our coffee mornings but never to church services. Some nights he would pray in his soft, lilting accent, and others he wouldn’t be able to finish as tears poured down his rough cheeks. I wept with him on so many Tuesday nights.
He had been a pilot after giving up his farm and had retained his pilot’s license. So one summer’s day he flew my brother and me up to the island off the north coast of Scotland where he’d been born. He thought we would enjoy the flight up the coast, and he wanted to show us the little church, or kirk, as he called it, where he had been raised. I remember looking out the window of the small plane as we got closer and closer to the fields of sheep and wondering where the landing strip was.
“There’s no landing strip!” I yelled over the noise of the propellers.
“Just watch, lass!” he yelled back. “We’ll just have to let the sheep know we’re coming.”
Sure enough, as we flew low over one of the fields, the sheep ran for their lives and we landed safely. After tea and scones at a local tea shop, we walked up the cobbled alley to the church. The doors were open, so we went inside. The floors squeaked with stories from long ago as we walked to the front, where the sun was streaming through the lone stained glass window. It contained a picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd carrying the lost sheep back home. We sat in the stillness for a while.
“Do you mind if I ask you a question, Angus?” I said.
“No, lass, go ahead,” he said.
“Well, it’s about your wife. Do you ever wonder why God hasn’t answered your prayers yet?”
He was quiet and thoughtful for a moment, and then he said this: “He’s never failed me yet, and I don’t reckon He’ll start now.”
There was so much more I wanted to ask him, but the look of love and reverence on his face as he gazed up at the picture in the window silenced me. I found out from my mum later that night that Angus had been praying for his wife for over 40 years.
Years later, I was home on a break from seminary when Angus died. The church was packed for his funeral. This gentle man’s life had touched so many. Our pastor preached a beautiful message about Angus’s long obedience in the same direction and his utter devotion to Christ. At the end of the service, as those who’d come to honor his life poured out onto the street, I noticed that his wife was still sitting in the front row, our pastor by her side. I assumed he was trying to comfort her, so I left them alone. Later that day, I discovered that he had been leading her into a relationship with Jesus. When she saw the church packed with those who loved her husband and heard the compelling message about the One who had led Angus all his days, she finally bowed and his Savior became her Savior that day too.
A lifetime is not too long to pray. Angus wouldn’t know the impact of his prayers until two years later when his wife passed and joined him in heaven.
If you have been waiting for a long time and God has been silent, let me ask you this: Do you still believe He loves you? When answers don’t come, do you still believe He is for you? Jesus asked if He will find faith among us when He returns. Will He? Do you believe God is in control? Do you believe He has a perfect plan for your life? Do you believe His timing is perfect? Until we settle how we will wait in the silence, we will be unsettled in our lives. When we determine to trust God in the silence, our faith in who He is grows stronger. Our witness becomes more powerful. Like Angus we can say to those who wonder why we’re still holding on, “He’s never failed me yet!” When we choose to place our hope in God, we have been promised that this hope will not disappoint (Rom. 5:3–5).
Editor’s note: This piece was adapted from Shelia Walsh’s new book Praying Women: How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group,” Feb. 11. 2020. Used with permission.
Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than 5 million books sold. She is the author of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess and In the Middle of the Mess. She is cohost of LIFE Today with James and Betty Robison with a potential audience of 100 million viewers daily. Walsh is a popular speaker and Bible teacher around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and Brazil. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Barry, their son, Christian, and their TWO pups, Tink and Maggie. Her latest book, Praying Women, released nationwide February 4, 2020.