For personal reasons I won't go into here I had desperately wanted to travel to Colorado and see Dave with my wife. His ministry had a profound impact on my life and I had been trying for two years to find a way to raise the funds to go and see him. It never happened, and that is something I am sorry about.
I first met him about 20 years ago - a timeline that scares me because I realise how old I am now - at a conference in England. He was ministering with Andrew Wommack and Wendell Parr at the "Grace and Faith" Convention. I arrived late - so late it was dark and the first meeting had begun - so I parked my car and went straight into the big top for the service.
Andrew delivered the message, a powerful one which met a need I had specific to that moment in my life and confirmed the call in my heart for what has now grown to be this blog, and has the intent to expand to produce a print magazine within the next few months. The week changed my life, especially my encounter with Dave.
Leaving the first meeting I fell over a rope holding up the tent. Dazed I looked up and this giant hand was extending towards me with a smile that lit up the darkness behind it. I took the outstretched hand and asked "Who's that?" The answer I got was "It's just your Uncle Dave". We chatted for a few minutes, laughing at the way I'd fallen and how the guide ropes seemed to be designed to trip the unwary in the dark, and about how we'd been Blessed by the service that evening. Dave asked me if I was staying for the week, and when I said I was he invited me to find him the following morning. He said he liked to sit at the front - which suited me as I like to be towards the front of the service.
Not knowing who he was we hugged and went our way. I slept in my car - which I don't recommend - as I couldn't put up my tent in the dark. The following morning I went and met him at the front of the tent. He'd got a seat on the front row, and I snagged a seat right behind him. He hugged me again like an old friend. At this point I'd not met or heard of any of the speakers at the conference. I was there as a result of a prophetic word given on the Monday with the camp starting the following week. So I'd gone. He got very excited as I told him that, then the worship began.
Anointed would be an understatement. The sense of expectation of God's Power and Presence was so thick the air was almost physically thick with it. After the worship the main speaker was introduced - Dave Duell. I was about to lean forward to ask my new friend if he'd heard this guy speak when he got up and walked onto the stage!
I was intimidated when I met other leaders by their reputation. The "who am I compared to them" syndrome we all suffer from. And it has nothing to do with who the speaker is, and everything to do with understanding who I am - or you are - in Christ. That was something I knew in theory but saw in practice and really understood that week for the first time.
God is not a respecter of persons. Our resume does not impress Him - He arranged it. What He looks for is a willing heart and individuals open to being used by the Holy Spirit.
In 31 years as a Christian, some of that time in church leadership, some as a member and some where I was "away" from organised meetings but still meeting with other believers I've never met a man more willing to be used and humble about it. That week I saw him pray for many people and every person - including myself - received what we had asked for. In my case it was finances, but I watched him pray for a young boy who had one leg about 2-3cm shorter than the other. As he prayed, God lengthened the short leg. Then as the youngster was short for his age Dave prayed again and one at a time, both his legs grew an extra inch in length.
Dave had a simple Faith. He understood that it wasn't his reputation on the line so he simply stepped out. And miracles followed.
It's taken 20 years for me to have the nerve to be ready to try to step out the way He did. Too long for me to have the chance to sit and learn from him in the field, but not too long to swallow my feelings of embarrassment and step out myself.
I've started small. I prayed for a friend who at the time was a new acquaintance and God gave me a word of Knowledge that allowed me to let Him forge what is now the closest friendship I have, a spiritual kinship in a way I've never experienced before or since and since we currently live in different cities one I miss terribly.
But not all my prayers saw answers. I asked and didn't receive. I sought and didn't find. I knocked and the door stayed firmly shut. Family members have died and suffered serious illness and my prayers seemed worthless.
Religion tells me that it must be "part of God's plan" or to pray "if it be your will" when I pray and if nothing happens then it must be God's answer.
Religion - if you'll forgive my bluntness - is full of crap.
My dad died at the age of 56 from a glioblastoma tumour in his brain. The vicar prayed an eloquent prayer for comfort for my mum and myself at his bedside, but didn't ask for healing. I didn't have the nerve to ask ("who am I to ask" syndrome) and my dad died.
My prayers seemed unanswered. Later that year I was told I was diabetic, and despite praying the symptoms wouldn't go away.
Was God testing me?
What comes from God is Good, Perfect and Pleasing. This sentiment is repeated so often to quote all the references would take me until Lent 2017 to write out.
If it's not Good, if it's not Perfect, if it's not Pleasing then God didn't put it in your life.
Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father do. He never gave anyone cancer. He never gave anyone diabetes. He never said "Come back later, you need to learn from this". And I challenge everyone reading this to show me chapter and verse in the Bible where Jesus acts in a way other than to heal and make whole. I've never found one. Not in 31 years and more translations than I knew existed 31 years ago.
So what makes our prayers seem unanswered?
Andrew Wommack writes on his website:
"All of us have had experiences when it didn’t look like our prayers were answered. But is that really what happened? The Bible says in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Is that true? Well, many people say it couldn’t mean what it appears to say, because they can cite experiences where they asked for something and didn’t receive. But you’ve got to make the decision stated in Romans 3:4, to “Let God be true, but every man [or in this case, every circumstance] a liar.” God’s Word is true, not our experiences." What to do when your prayers seem unanswered by Andrew WommackI've seen this in my own life and I'm sure you have too. Circumstances lie to us and ultimately Satan gets a shot past us.
We forget we're in a war sometimes - especially in Western Society. We forget that we have an enemy who shoots back. And we forget we can get wounded. We forget we have to stand our ground and fight for what God has promised us.
Consider Daniel's experiences in chapters 9 and 10 of Daniel. The first time he prays Gabriel stands before him within seconds with the answer, telling him he was sent with the answer the moment Daniels prayer was heard in Heaven.
The second time Daniel prays it is 21 days before Gabriel shows up, but his preface is the same - the moment his prayer was heard in Heaven he was sent with the answer - but the enemy delayed him for 21 days in battle.
For 21 days Daniel's prayer seemed to be unanswered.
Consider King David. Anointed to be king of Israel while a youth he runs into hiding from Saul, praying for God to move for several years before Saul dies and David is crowned king. All those years - many recorded by David's own hand in the Psalms - where the one big prayer seemed unanswered were acually just time where the enemy delayed the answer.
Joseph spent years as a slave praying for release before he received his answer.
Martha and Mary prayed and asked for healing for Lazarus and he died. But Jesus came and brought their answer with Him and Lazarus was raised to life, called from the tomb after 4 days.
We live in a fast-food mentality in the Western World. Everything needs to be instant. I've written before about a sincere apology from a drive-through window that my meal would be another 90 seconds.
90 seconds. What a hardship.
My first computer took 25 minutes to load a game off a cassette that took 2 minutes to play. My current cellphone has more processing power than that computer. My current computer has more advanced technology than the rockets that took man to the moon - and it responds faster.
What's this got to do with prayer?
"Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8 Amplified)Keep on asking/knocking/seeking. Be persistent in our prayer, not to motivate God, but to move the enemy who would steal our answer.
Everyone who asks, knocks or seeks gets what they need when they persist. And Jesus doesn't add "unless they did xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" (fill in your sin of choice here).
Standing firm when everything looks like it's falling apart is hard. We have battles to fight and standing sometimes feels wrong, but it's what we need to do.
Your prayers are not unheard. God is not withholding the answer, but it may be being delayed by the enemy. God is not saying you need to learn by having cancer, or no food, or no heat in winter. He teaches us through Scripture.
When your prayers seem unanswered, stand firm.
God will not let you down.
It's His name on the line.