The following was used as a devotion at a meeting of a group in our church called The First-Friday Fellowship:

One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 8:28, which reads: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose”. Tonight I want to tell you about an event that illustrates how remembering and relying on this verse improved my prayer life.

This event happened to me only a few minutes before I began writing this. I stopped what I was doing at the time to write this down, before I forgot any of the details.

I was working at my computer on Wednesday morning, August 20, [2003] because a heavy rain outside prevented me from working in the garden.

Since I am the one who is in charge of First-Friday Fellowship’s publicity, what I was trying to do was to create a file for the Program that you see in front of you on your tables. You will notice that it is printed on both sides of 8½” x 11″ paper turned sideways, and it is in three columns.

About two weeks earlier, I had already completed the file for the outside of the Program, and had encountered no problems whatsoever with the computer or the software that I was using. Now, I was trying to do the same for the inside of the Program.

For some reason, that morning I couldn’t even get started. I was trying to use a 9-point font for the text in the body, which should give a line about two-tenths of an inch high, and, instead, the lines were coming out about an inch high. I tried many things, but nothing that I did would correct this problem. I went back to what I had been doing before to see if I had made some kind of a change that was getting carried over to what I was doing now, but even though I had been using larger fonts then, their line spacings were different from what I was now getting.

I have run into situations like this before: For example, six years ago I spent a couple of years working as a computer programmer for a very small company. My job was to write software that would detect and remove viruses from files that had been written with Microsoft’s word processor. This was at a time when the conventional wisdom had been that it would be impossible for anyone to come up with a virus that would infect a Microsoft Word document, and yet such a virus had finally been created. The point here is that there were very few manuals or books that I could consult that would be of help to me.

Moreover, my boss, whom I regarded as the world’s greatest authority on computer viruses, was far too busy with his own problems to give me any help. I was entirely on my own.

As a result, there were several instances when I ran into a problem that was completely intractable, and I could find nothing in any of the big thick books that I had that would help me figure out a solution. I can remember that, whenever such a problem arose and I had exhausted all of the ideas that I could think of, I would go to the Lord on my knees in prayer. What I will never forget is that every time I did this I found a solution. Sometimes an idea that I had not considered would pop into my head before I had even gotten up from my knees. When this did not happen, I would just put the problem aside, work on something else, and eventually I would think of some kind of a solution.

(Incidentally, please let me digress for just a moment to say that I have on the wall in my office an E-mail from my boss – it is framed and hung alongside a couple of other citations – and it reads in part: “Bravo. Your [programs] killed all of my macro viruses with grace and courage and alacrity. This has got to be the best product on the market”…unquote. As a footnote, if you wonder why I am not still at that job, the company for which I worked went out of business two days before the date on which my product was to have been released to the public. This happened because my boss’s partner, who was a free-lance writer of anti-virus software writer, had found a loophole in their contract, and had opted to quit and join up with a competitor, and the company could not withstand the loss of his product, so it went out of business.)

Last August 20, I just sat in front of my computer at a complete loss as to what to try next. Then it occurred to me that this was a time for prayer. However, on the way to our bedroom to pray in private, I realized that the Lord might be allowing the problem to occur in order to get my attention. Then I remembered that, if this is the case, it may be because I had not begun the day with prayer.

My regular practice is to begin every day by reading the Bible at breakfast instead of reading the newspaper. And then before I get dressed I get on my knees in prayer and thank the Lord for His many blessings and remind Him of all the concerns on my heart. And this morning somehow after reading the Bible I had become distracted and had forgotten that I had skipped praying.

So, as I was walking back to the bed room I asked myself whether it might be that this whole incident was because the Lord was telling me that I hadn’t put Him first in my life today. As a result, I prayed long and hard, asking Him to forgive me and to help me not to overlook Him again, but to put Him first in everything. And I mentioned the problem with the computer, and asked Him either to show me what was wrong or just to make the problem disappear.

When I went back to the computer, the screen still looked the same. When I tried to use it, the problem was still there. I was not so much disappointed as I was puzzled. This was not at all what I was expecting.

So I tried something on the keyboard that I had tried before praying, but this time everything worked beautifully. I had made no changes in any settings or in what I was trying to do or in the way I was doing it. It just worked now, when the very same thing hadn’t worked before I prayed.

Is there some explanation for this other than supernatural intervention? I was not connected to the Internet, so my computer could not have been influenced by some snooper or hacker. If there is natural explanation for this, I can’t figure it out.

However, even if some expert can offer a suggestion, the fact remains that this general sort of thing happens much too frequently for me not to be absolutely convinced that the Lord is working miracles in my life, and if He is still working miracles today, then the miracles in the Bible must be true, and, if they are true, then every word of the Bible must be true because one can’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe — it is all or nothing.

This is important to me because I am a retired scientist, and, as such, I used to have a big problem with the miracles described in the Bible. And until I first began to be aware of these “little miracles” back in 1985, I had no idea of the wonderful things the Lord had in store for me.

You may not realize it but even scientists have to have faith in something in order to be able to function in the face of questions that the human mind will never be able to answer…questions like “What was there before time began?”, “What will there be after time ends?”, “But how can time go on forever?”. Replace the word “time” with the word “space”, and you have another set of unanswerable questions. These questions are called the Paradoxes of Time and Space — questions that stump the philosophers, so they just give up.

As a scientist, I have to put my faith in what I see and feel and experience, and this incident that I have described tonight is one of them — it certainly involved me to the fullest.

Not only did the Lord get my attention last August and remind me that He is always with me, but He also helped me decide which of several other similar stories to tell you tonight.

In closing, I urge you to pray earnestly when you pray, and know for certain that your prayer will be answered — not always in the way you expect or want or hope for, but always in the way that is best for you. Romans 8:28 guarantees that for believers. And if you don’t understand the answer (or apparent lack of answer) you can pray for understanding. Understanding may take a while, but it will come eventually. Just pray with expectation and with confidence, knowing that the earnest prayer is heard, even if it concerns a subject that some might call trivial.


— Louis G. Stang, Jr.