Have you ever been surprised when something you’ve been praying for actually materializes? It has happened to me, too. My reaction is something like, “Wow, God. You did it!” As I reflect on that scenario, I wonder how much faith I had exerted in my prayer times for that answer. I am so glad God is faithful even when I’m not.

I heard someone say once that if you pray for rain, you’d better grab an umbrella. Now that is true faith: believing the answer will come. The umbrella, as a prop, is a reminder to believe for what you have asked.

I recently heard a story that challenged this notion further. There was a wonderful, godly man in the 1800s named Hudson Taylor, who became an amazingly effective missionary to China. He was known for having a deep faith in God. On one of his journeys to China, the ship he was on was in dire straits. There was no wind at all, and the ship was floating precariously closer towards an island populated by cannibals. The captain of the ship went below deck to find Hudson Taylor. The captain told him that he had heard of his faith and asked him to pray to God to send wind, as they were being drawn by the current dangerously close to the cannibal island. Hudson agreed that he would pray, and asked the captain to raise the sails. The captain told him that his crew would think him daft if he were to raise the sails in no-wind conditions. Hudson responded that he would not pray for wind if the captain would not raise the sails in expectation of the answer. The captain capitulated and raised the sails.

The story goes on to say that the captain returned below deck only a short time later to ask Hudson to stop praying, as the winds were too forceful to stay on their course. God had answered in a big way.

As I spend time praying today, there are some large requests on my list. I choose to raise my sails in faith, expecting the answers that will come. Let the wind blow, Lord, because I’m ready. “Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1).