This past weekend, I definitely had an experience that would qualify for entry in such a book.
It all starts about 3 weeks ago when, at 10:00 at night, while I was lying nearly asleep in bed, the phone rang. On the other end was a person I didn't know, who asked if I would fill in giving a workshop for someone who was no longer able to do it. In the haze of my sleepiness, I readily agreed. The next morning, when my head cleared and an email with details came through, I was a lot less agreeable about the idea. I thought it would be a 20 minute workshop with about 20 women. Instead it is a 45 minute talk with a group that will likely be at least three times that size. And instead of being in our stake area of Brampton with people I know, it is an hour away in Toronto, a city full of strangers.
As each day rolled by over the past few weeks, I got more and more terrified about the prospect. I've given workshops that long before, for teen girls. The idea of trying to pass myself off as an expert in front of women much older than I isn't the same thing. Not only that, but my schedule is chock full for May and I realized that I wasn't going to have a whole lot of time to prepare such a big presentation.
At this point, I could easily have called and begged out of the assignment. But as the days went on, I didn't call. I felt that I really needed to give this workshop. And so I turned it over to God. "God," I prayed, "You have asked me to do this, and I will. But I do not have time to research and write it. You will have to provide the words, and I will speak them."
Then came this past Sunday. Our church has a lay ministry, and part of the setup is that our Bishop does not give a sermon every Sunday; instead, three members of the church are asked each week to share a 10-15 minute talk. In the past, the Bishop has assigned a topic or a scripture to the speaker to get them started. But our new Bishop just announced that they were going to try something new: each member would pray for guidance on their own and receive inspiration on what they should speak about. This past Sunday was the first day of the experiment.
When the third speaker started, she stated that she had felt the distinct impression to speak on music. She said "I don't know why I should speak on this topic. I'm not in the least experienced in music and have no musical ability whatsoever." But, she affirmed, that was exactly how she knew it was the spirit prompting her topic and not her own idea: she would never have chosen music to speak on. She went on to give an amazing address on the influence of music. It was thoroughly researched, drawing on many conference talks and scripture passages. It was filled with personal experiences and applicable ideas. In short, it was brilliant.
And it was just for me. You see, the topic I am supposed to speak on for my workshop is "The Influence of Music." When I related this whole story to her afterward, I told her that I knew exactly why she was impressed to speak on music. I had asked God to prepare this workshop for me, and he did, through her. She was amazed. She handed her notes over to me right there, and said that she had at least twice more that amount at home that she hadn't included. That's right - she had about 45 minutes of material prepared for her 15 minute talk. Not only that, but she had annotated and included web links for every talk she quoted, something she has never done for a talk before.
I have often heard that God answers prayers through us. This is a very specific example how one person needed a workshop prepared, and he inspired one other person to research and write it. While there may have been others in the congregation who benefited from her words, there is no doubt in my mind that this was a specific answer to prayer.