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Prayful Listening

Amy Carmichael was a woman from Northern Ireland who served as a missionary in India in the early 20th century. In her autobiography, Amy talks about a time when she was a child when her mother told her that if she wanted something, all she needed to do was to pray to God. One night when Amy went to bed, she prayed that when she awoke her brown eyes would be blue. She says that as soon as she woke the next morning, she ran to the mirror to see if God had answered her prayers. To her great disappointment, God had not answered her prayers and her eyes remained brown.

When Amy moved to India at the age of 28, she had accepted that marriage was not in her future and therefore understood because of that motherhood would also be a dreamed unrealized, but God had different plans. Almost immediately after arriving in India, Amy was approached by a little girl who asked her to keep her safe. The young girl had been given to the temple by her mother where she and other young girls were forced to work as temple prostitutes. She had escaped that night and remembering Amy from an earlier encounter, the little girl sought her out asking her for help. Amy did keep her safe and from that moment forward, Amy spent her time rescuing children from danger. She would dress up like her Indian friends and rub coffee on her face and arms to try to blend in. It was only then she said, so many years later that she was grateful for her brown eyes. Amy stated that throughout her life that she learned a lot about prayer including that sometimes we need to listen to God first to know what we should pray for. While Amy never married, by the end of her life, she had cared for over 1000 children who called her Amma or mom.

Amy stated that you can give without loving but it is impossible to love without giving. She loved God and she loved people and she went on giving throughout her lifetime. As I read what Amy said about prayer, I thought that this would be a wonderful time to share her story. So often during this time of year, we find ourselves asking children what they asked for from Santa. And while we no longer believe that a white haired man dressed in red is going to deliver us gifts on Christmas morning, we still believe that if we are good and ask God for what we want that God will deliver. Somewhere along the way, we started getting God confused with Santa Claus. During Advent, during this time of preparation as we remember the birth of the Christ child and look forward to the coming Christ, it is a good time to spend more time listening while we are praying then speaking, remembering that sometimes we need to listen to God first so we know what we should be praying for.

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