Dr. Helen Roseveare, the famous British missionary doctor in Zaire, whose autobiography “Give Me This Mountain” is well worth reading. She wrote about an event during her time in Africa:
“One evening, I was helping a mother give birth in the maternity ward. Despite our best efforts, she died, leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old girl. It would be hard to keep the baby alive, because we had neither electricity nor incubator, and the nights were often drafty and cool, even though we were on the equator. An assistant fetched our last hot water bottle to keep the baby warm, but soon came back in desperation, because it had burst. ‘OK,’ I told her, ‘hold the baby as close to the fire as you can, and keep it out of drafts.’
The following day, I had a prayer time with the orphans. I told them about the newly born baby, the two-year-old orphan and the broken hot water bottle. During the prayer time, Ruth, a ten-year-old with the typical brutal directness of African children, prayed ‘Please God, send us a hot water bottle. Tomorrow will be too late, God, because the baby will be dead by then, so please send it this afternoon.’ I took a deep breath because of the prayer’s directness, then heard her continue: ‘and while you’re at it, would you please send a doll for the little girl, so that she knows that you really love her?’ To be honest, I could not believe that God would do that. Oh yes, God can do everything. I knew that, theoretically — it’s written in the Bible. But there are limits, aren’t there? I hadn’t received any parcels from home for four years. And if anyone sent a parcel, why would they send a hot water bottle to tropical Africa?
Late in the afternoon, I heard that a car had come. By the time I arrived in my apartment, it had already left – but there was a large parcel on the veranda! I could feel tears welling up inside, and called the orphans so that we could open it together. Apart from clothes, bandages and sultanas, the parcel contained – I could hardly believe my eyes! – a new rubber hot water bottle! I cried. I had not dared to ask God for it, but Ruth had! She had been sitting in the first row, and ran forward, shouting ‘If God sent the hot water bottle, he must have sent the doll too!’ She dug to the bottom of the parcel and pulled out a beautiful small doll. Her eyes shone. She had not doubted for a moment. She looked up and asked ‘Can we go to the little girl and give her the doll, so that she knows Jesus loves her?’
The parcel had been on the way for five months, sent by a Sunday School class. The teacher had been so obedient to God that she even sent a hot water bottle to the equator. One of the girls had given a doll, five months before a 10-year-old African girl would pray ‘God, we need it this afternoon.’ The words in the Bible are true: ‘Before they call, I will answer them.’ (Isaiah 65:24).”
From: A Story about prayer