Prayer and the Plan

by Pat Harley (reprinted from The Amazing Collection on Facebook with permission)

Prayer is an interesting thing. We pray with our own great plan in mind. I had prayed for years that our daughters would be used mightily by God. When they married, that prayer expanded to include the new son – in – laws. I asked that our children would be warriors for Christ. In my mind I knew exactly how that would be played out AND of course; they would all live next door! The prayer and the plan were good ones for sure.

So when Cameron, daughter number two, called with the news that they were leaving the youth pastorate and moving to L’Viv, Ukraine to minister there, it was not in my plan.

It is a tearing away of the flesh in many ways to send those you love off to foreign fields, knowing that you cannot just drive an hour and be in their presence. And Ukraine sounded like a strange culture only because it is different from ours. I was on this side of the ocean….and they were on the other many countries away. Though I hate to admit it, often fear would take over; fear for my children’s safety and fear for our grandchildren’s development.


There is a great kindness in God that often catches us off guard. It is so very personal, so completely designed for us that we are shocked and reminded that yes, He does really KNOW us and as a good Father, shapes gifts that are full of the surprise of tender love.

One of those gifts arrived in the spring of 2007. I received a call from Eleanor Lewis. Marsha Crowe, the Women’s Ministry Director at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church had asked Eleanor and me to teach a Women’s Conference in Ludzk, Ukraine. We would fly into L’Viv, spend a day there and then drive the three hours to the conference.

Marsha had no idea my daughter lived in L’Viv but God did and He handed me the gift of an all-expense-paid visit complete with ministry opportunities and a shared experience with some great and wonderful women who accompanied us.

And so we landed in L’Viv and my family was waiting at the airport to meet us! We dined at their apartment and shared stories. Then Cameron became not only our hostess but also one of our drivers escorting us for the next several days to the conference and back again and her Ukrainian team mate served as my translator.

But God was not done giving. While at the conference I received another gift, one that was probably the most important one. I began to see clearly WHY God had sent them to Ukraine. They were doing a good work…warriors for Jesus Christ. They were seeing God open doors that seemed shut. They brought the hope of the gospel to those who were hopeless. They saw the Spirit of God move and change lives. They had become totally dependent on His leading. They had witnessed His provision and they were well aware of His great protection.

And I began to see that God was in the process of answering my prayer, not my plan.

So for one week, every moment with my daughter and her family was a treasure. And the opportunity to minister to the gracious women who attended the conference was wonderful. But by far the greatest gift was knowing God had heard, God had answered, God was working and God understood the mother’s heart.

Answered prayer and God’s plan: the winning combination.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.