Answered Prayer

One of the subjects people frequently ask me about is “prayer”.  Many thousands of books have been written over the centuries cataloguing examples of answered prayer and they make both inspiring and challenging reading.  Here are two fascinating examples of the many I have come across.

A number of years ago a strange incident occurred in a missionary’s hut in a remote part of Africa.  One night a missionary awoke with a start, having a strange feeling of being in imminent danger.  The moon’s rays shone through the window, but she could see nothing wrong.  She continued to have a feeling of great danger so she awoke her husband.  After a few moments of further peering they suddenly saw a hideous creature at the end of their bed – a huge cobra – head raised ready to strike.  Quickly her husband  reached for his rifle and shot it dead.

But what was it that alerted her to their danger?  Well many months later after they had returned home to Canada they mentioned the strange incident to a Christian friend.  After checking dates and times her friend then related that at the exact time they had been in danger, she had been sweeping the kitchen floor and had suddenly been overcome by an irresistible urge to pray for them.  “I had an overwhelming feeling that at that precise moment you were in great personal danger.  I got down on my knees and pleaded to God for your protection.  After some minutes, a sense of peace came upon me and I felt all was well.”

The other example comes from the Gracie family and their experience with the Titanic.  One Sunday night in April 1912 an American woman found she couldn’t sleep because of a peculiar feeling that her husband was in great danger.  The fear would not go away so she began to pray for her husband’s safety although she couldn’t understand why, since he was safely on board the so called “unsinkable ship”.  She prayed and prayed, but still the fear overwhelmed her.  The hours went on but she got no assurance and kept on praying until about 5 am.  Suddenly a sense of peace overwhelmed her and she went to sleep.

So what was happening while she was praying for her husband’s safety?  Her husband Colonel Gracie was among the doomed hundreds.  He personally had given up all hope of survival and was doing his best to help the women and children.  As the ship plunged to her watery grave, he was sucked down in the giant whirlpool.  Instinctively he began to swim under water, ice cold as it was.  Prepared for death, he was astonished to suddenly find himself reach the surface, and not only that, but next to an overturned lifeboat.  He was picked up by another lifeboat several hours later, the very time peace came to his praying wife.

In James Ch 5 v16 it says “pray for one another because the prayers of a righteous man avails much”.  This statement has been seen to be true on countless occasions – indeed many of you who read this will have your own personal and private examples of answered prayer.

I said that the catalogue of examples of answered prayer was both inspiring and challenging.   Inspiring yes! But how can they be challenging?  What I find so challenging is this – what if the Christian friend hadn’t bothered to pray for the missionaries?  What would have happened if she felt she was really too busy to pray – after all, she had this to do, that to do, the kids to get from school and all on a tight schedule.  Or what if Mrs Gracie hadn’t bothered to labour in prayer all night for her husband’s safety?  Suppose she had decided that reciting the Lord’s Prayer last thing at night was all the Lord required and left it at that!  She would have slept well but she would have been a widow by the morning.  When a person decides they are too busy to pray just think what damage they are doing to themselves and others.  Prayer changes the course of a persons life and so does a lack of prayer!  In 1st Thessalonians Ch5 v17we are commanded “to pray without ceasing”.  The next time you decide to miss your daily prayer time because you are too busy for spiritual matters just think what the consequences might be!  Prayer is vitally important and more things are wrought by prayer than this world knows about.