Another prayer story from my seminary professor Don Carson – this one is true, although I don’t remember the exact details:
A man was called to pastor a church in Australia, but when he got there, he saw that things were not as one might have hoped. The people were divisive and mean. Many were not saved. When he tried a new initiative, it was blocked. When he called the church to prayer, they told him not to bother. Eventually, some of the old guard got tired of this man’s evangelical convictions, and they began to work toward his dismissal.
Since all hope was apparently lost and his hands were tied, the pastor decided to spend a good part of his time doing what he could do…pray. He spent the better part of his mornings in prayer, sometimes spending 3 hours in the Lord’s presence, begging Him to move mightily among them. He continued this for months, and then, according to Dr. Carson…
One day he got a call to do a funeral…and then another…and another…and another. Suddenly, people in the church were dying left and right, including many of those who were blocking the advance of God’s cause among them. And then…
Coming on the heels of all these funerals…were the baptisms. This young pastor did one baptism…and then another…and another. People in the church began coming to Christ in droves. The Spirit of God breathed new life into the fellowship, and he found himself pastoring an entirely different body of believers. God had answered his prayers, but in a way that he certainly never ever expected.
Moral of the story: whenever the pastor has an idea for a new initiative, be sure to support him. Hah! Just kidding – the point is that we often turn to prayer when things are hopeless, which is fine, but just think what incredible things would happen if we turned to the Lord all the time! God answers prayer!
“The great people of the earth today are the people who pray! I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor those who explain prayer; but I mean those who actually take the time to pray. They have not time. It must be taken from something else. That something else is important, very important and pressing, but still, less important and pressing than prayer.”