When I need to pray about something, I like to have time to turn quietly to the Bible and listen for God's direction, or get my head together to ask for His help. I might take a walk to be alone with my thoughts. Or just sit down in a peaceful place where I can collect myself without feeling pressed by circumstances.
However, I have learned from the Bible that God's ability to answer prayer isn't limited to those carefully crafted circumstances we might feel are ideal for getting divine direction or answers. God's readiness to come to our aid and bless us is not circumscribed by human conditions. The Apostle Paul spoke of God's instant availability and help at all times this way: "For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2).
I recall an experience I had while serving in the military. I was working "mids," that is, from midnight to 8 a.m. Just after I got to work one night, I felt too sick to accomplish anything constructive. My supervisor knew that I was used to turning to prayer to solve my health problems. But from what he conveyed to me about the magnitude of our work that night as well as for the next few days, I needed to be in top shape. I asked him if I could go to my room for a while. He granted me permission, but said that if I wasn't OK by 6 a.m., I'd have to report for sick call.
My first feeling was one of gratitude for his appreciation of my circumstances. But as I made my way back to my room to be alone, I was also acutely aware that I had only a few hours to see the benefits of my prayer to God for healing.
In a way, I felt under pressure. But that feeling quickly gave way to a wonderful sense of opportunity to see and feel divine Love in action. I reached out to God for inspiration and the spiritual ideas that would help and heal me. As I did, I could quickly feel God's love and tender care. It was tangible and real. Time was no longer the issue. What mattered was acknowledging God's present and perfect care for His children, and my real spiritual safety as His beloved offspring.
The pressure gave way to gratitude. My fear of proving my faith to my supervisor was replaced by wanting to acknowledge God's love and presence. My concern about reporting for sick call and having my prayer unanswered was replaced by a deep-settled confidence in God's omnipotence and infinite ability to maintain His creation, including this creation's health and well-being.
The fear and illness I had felt just a little while before completely vanished. I had a wonderful feeling of renewal and blessing. Every trace of illness was healed.
I wanted to stay in my room the rest of the night to rejoice in this healing. But I knew I was needed at work, so I quickly reported to my supervisor and returned to my station to work the rest of the night. I could tell by the expression on his face that he was pleased by my quick recovery. But not half as grateful as I was at the practicality and power of prayer, even under pressure.
O my God, my soul
is cast down within me ....
Yet the Lord will command
his lovingkindness in the
daytime, and in the night
his song shall be with me,
and my prayer unto
the God of my life.
Psalms 42:6, 8