Why prayer is important even when we don't get what we want

Ali started visiting our Friday night prayer group during her battle with cancer. She soon became a friend and started praying herself. What followed was a fascinating experience.

Browsing in an antiques shop one day, Ali came across a beautiful old Singer-style sewing machine – the manual kind, mounted on a table with a foot pedal. When she saw it she whispered a simple prayer: “God, I’d love something like that for my place.”

Reflect with Sheridan


Author and broadcaster Sheridan Voysey offers some everyday stories with meaning to savour.

Scripture portrays God as a gift-giving God. He’s said to give us food and joy, sunshine and rain, and forgiveness when we ask for it. Jesus described God to be like a Father and compared this Father to earthly parents. If we know how to give our children good gifts, how much more so does God? We can trust him then to give us what we need.

But there’s a big difference between praying for a need and praying for an antique sewing machine, don’t you think?

Ali wasn’t praying for food, safety, or even forgiveness. Her request was a child-like wish to a God she was just becoming acquainted with. I’m not even sure how serious her request was.

A couple of days later, Ali was walking out of her front door on her way to work when she saw a pile of rubbish by the roadside. She stopped, stunned. There in the rubbish stood an old Singer-style sewing machine – the manual kind, mounted on a table with a foot pedal. On it hung a sign that said, “Perfect condition – please take.”

There’s a mystery to this, of course. My wife and I prayed for a decade to have a child without success, and others have prayed for more desperate needs without an answer.

The mystery was there for Ali too. After all the prayers, the cancer won. We lost Ali in 2015.

While I don’t begin to understand why God answers some prayers so clearly and not others, I do believe each of us gets a moment when the mighty symphony of heaven is heard and God reveals himself to us personally. Ali’s sewing machine experience was her moment – the moment she discovered Someone who hears every thought, listens to every prayer, and can often be found in the unexpected places.

This excerpt is taken from the new gift book Reflect with Sheridan by Sheridan Voysey, an Australian-born, British-based author, speaker and broadcaster. Watch him explain the heart behind Reflect with Sheridan.

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Reflect with Sheridan

Sheridan Voysey

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