The promise given to us by the prophet, Isaiah, has always fascinated me: "And I will answer them before they even call to me." (Is. 65:24). To me it always meant that God is above time, so he knows in advance of our prayer what we are going to pray. Therefore, he doesn't have to wait until we actually pray it to answer.
I once read about a missionary in Africa who had a premie to keep alive. She needed a hot water bottle to place next to the baby, but there was nowhere to purchase one. As she shared this need with the children of the village, one little girl prayed, "God we need a hot water bottle and we need it today." That afternoon a package arrived from America. Someone in a congregation supporting the missionary had sent a box of supplies, and there in the bottom of the box was a hot water bottle. The missionary had never mentioned to the congregation that she needed one, there was no reason for anyone to suspect such a need for a country close to the equator, but God knew, and before that little child prayed the prayer, he was busy answering through a servant back home.
This past weekend, when I was at a writer's conference near Pittsburgh, PA, I discovered another meaning to Isaiah's promise. On the way to the airport my eyes were driving me crazy. They were watering like a leaky garden hose, and they hurt. Of course, they were red and irritated. I had to take an unintended exit off of I 285 just to tend to them, put in some drops, and try to get some relief.
When I arrived at the conference, I met some wonderful new friends. One of the ladies there was a missionary from Mexico. She shared some of the miraculous hearings she had experienced with the people in the villages she served. She had even seen sight restored as she prayed for those with severe vision problems. We became conference friends and enjoyed some meals together. On about the third day of the conference, she looked at me and said, "I want to pray for your eyes." They were still red and watering.
Strangely, I had never thought to pray for healing for my eyes, even though they often hurt. I guess I just considered my eye problem too minor to ask God to heal me. But my new friend had no such reservations. She put one thumb on each eye and asked God to heal them, reminding him (as if he needed to be reminded) that I needed my eyes to do this work of writing he has called me to do.
I then prayed for a couple of health issues she was experiencing, and we went on to dinner.
The next morning when I got up, I noticed my eyes were not watering (they usually water a lot in the morning). Furthermore, they were not red as they usually are in the morning. And, since she prayed I have had none of my nuisance eye problems. In short, my eyes have been healed. Praise God!
But, to get back to the point, God was at work through a friend to pray for me before I asked. Before I asked, he truly did answer. I wonder how bad the problem would have had to become before I asked God to heal me. Our gracious God came to my assistance before it got any worse.
God knows all things. He is above time. And he loves us. How comforting that he answers before we ask.