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Does prayer make a difference?
In a church that I pastored several years ago, we decided to have a series on the subject of prayer during our Wednesday night meetings. It didn't take long for the discussions to centre around one key question: What difference does prayer make? If you pray for someone, and he knows you are praying for him, perhaps that would have some psychological benefit. But what if you pray for someone who doesn't know you are praying for him? Does that help? How could it? Why would it? After all, is it fair for God to bless this person here, who has someone praying for him, and withhold a blessing from that person over there, just because he doesn't have anyone praying for him?
After twisting our brains all out of shape for some time, someone finally suggested, "Why don't we try it and find out? Let's choose an impossible case, and pray for that person, both in the group on Wednesday nights and privately in our homes. Let's see what happens."
I had visited an "impossible" case that very day. There was a family in the community who had been members of the church years before. In fact, they had even been to the mission field. But someone did them wrong, and they felt bitter, disillusioned, and angry. They hated the church. They hated preachers. As I left their home that afternoon, they shouted, "And don't pray for us!"
But that was one thing over which they had no control!
So I mentioned the names of these people to the congregation. Everyone nodded in agreement. The family was well-known in the community. It was truly an impossible case. We decided to make that family our test case. We would pray for them specifically in our private prayers at home all through the week.
That first week their house burned down! The news came out in the local paper. When we gathered for prayer meeting the following Wednesday I asked my congregation, "What are you people praying for, anyway?"
We continued praying. The second week, the newspaper reported that a valuable piece of equipment that this family used in their business had been stolen. And so it went. One thing after another went wrong for them. We just kept on praying and watching.
The last Sabbath of that month, the entire family walked into church. Heads turned—and then quickly turned back again, and word flew from one person to another, "They're here!" After church, one by one the people came to me and said, "We ought to do more praying!"
“The Answer is Prayer” by Morris Venden, p. 53-55
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