(This is part 2. The story of our early struggle with infertility begins here.)
Okay, logic said, we definitely needed to keep this thing under wraps. We had a history, after all, and telling people would just lead to awkward conversations should the dreaded loss come our way again.
But it came to me one day in a flash that this was all wrong. We needed prayer. We needed lots of prayer. We wanted this baby, and we knew One Who, if He chose, could still storms and keep miscarriages at bay. And so it was that early in the pregnancy…we started telling people far and wide, and we started asking them to pray.
We told them about previous miscarriages. We told about our sadness. We told them that we needed their prayers now. We told and we told and we told.
It’s an interesting question that I have pondered through the years – does having more people pray lead to more or perhaps, faster affirmative answers from heaven? There is a certain logic to it. If I am a salesman, I want to make a lot of sales calls. The more calls, the more sales. Any sales manager worth his salt knows this. If I am drilling for oil, I want to drill a lot of different places – the more I drill, the more likely I am to strike black gold. Or perhaps a better analogy, if a father has 5 of his children begging for a trip to Disney, does that move him more than if only one of his kids is nipping at his heels to see Mickey?
Does having a large number of people pray move God’s heart more than small numbers of people?
In the end, I’m not sure. Of course, Jesus did say, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19 (ESV). The context for this quote is church discipline, and so many dismiss it when you speak of prayer in relation to it. But I don’t buy that – I think it means what it looks like it means. Jesus is talking about prayer and encouraging people to come together, and He surely seems to say that there is a certain power in it – “it will be done for them…”
So when it comes to prayer, if two are better than one, wouldn’t 10 be five times more effective than two? Here logic loses…that’s not a leap I think we can make.
But this much I know, if you have 100 people praying, and God answers in the affirmative, then you have 100 people glorifying Him for His goodness and grace. If only 10 are praying, then when good news comes, only 10 are filled with gratitude and praise.
This last bit of thinking is more than logic – it is Bible.
Consider this truth in light of 2 Corinthians 1:11…
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (ESV)
Talk about affliction and pain – Paul and Timothy had experienced incredible persecution as they labored for Christ in Asia. Apparently, it was so bad that they thought they were at death’s door, they “felt that (they) had received the sentence of death.” To that end, he says, we need you to pray.
And the Apostle makes it clear that if many will pray, many will also give thanks for the blessings granted through their prayers.
But there is more here than meets the eye – it seems as if this future thanksgiving is the very purpose of the prayer. In other words, the real reason he wants them to pray is so that they will give thanks…in the end. Why must they help by prayer? Not first and foremost so that Paul and Timothy will be delivered, but “so that many will give thanks on our behalf.” Of course, the Bible doesn’t always phrase the purpose of prayer this way, but it does here. And in the end, it is all tied together – when the blessings are granted, when deliverance comes, when prayers are answered…then comes thanksgiving.
And notice that the greater number of people who pray, the greater number of people will give thanks. Many give thanks for the prayers of many. So it is indeed a divine idea to recruit large numbers of people to pray, because if large numbers pray, large numbers will glorify God.
As for us, large numbers? Well, many at least…and in the end, enough.
Joshua Kendon Knowlton was born on February 17, 1995. And I’m pretty certain that many…gave thanks.