The importance of prayer

If I could choose one thing to do very well; I would choose prayer. I know of no other enterprise more powerful, more exhilarating, more humbling, more life-changing, or more far reaching in its impact. I am without a doubt, the product of prayer. From conception to my present existence I have been held up, built up, rescued and sustained by the prayers of those who have loved me.

Living with my grandparents for a number of years as a child, I remember their home as a place of prayer. Often I would hear my grandparents praying late at night after a long day of hard work on the farm and in the coal mines. Illumined only by what moonlight filtered through the windows, I would see them kneeling in the living room and their petitioning voices so often uttered my name toward heaven. Their prayers were seasoned with tears, motivated by love, offered in faith, and evoked in the Name of Jesus. Somehow I knew that their labor of love at the family altar was responsible for the peace in our home and God’s favor in our lives. I sure slept well as I lay within hearing distance of their intercession, and more than once their tender prayers caused my lips to call on the same Savior in child-like faith.

Where is the family altar and where have all the prayer warriors gone? We “Google” more than we pray and we seek to be entertained more than we seek the face of our Creator and Redeemer. We text in abbreviations, pray infrequently using politically correct catch phrases, neglect the reading of God’s Word and collectively wonder why things aren’t like they used to be!

Prayer is not a ritual – it is a response to a relationship. Prayer is a dialogue between two individuals who love each other: one Divine and one human. Prayer is where the truth comes into focus and where you cannot lie. Prayer reveals our true identity and humility in prayer edifies us as nothing else can. Prayer is first about pleasing the Lord and out of that desire flow the blessings into our lives.

I was 19 years old and was driving back to college after a weekend trip with friends. At about 1:30 a.m. I suddenly drove into a thick patch of fog that enveloped the borrowed vehicle and covered both lanes of the highway. Rather than just gradually slowing down as I would normally have done; I slammed on the brakes and the car slid sideways to a screeching halt. My buddies were thrown around by the sliding and unexpected stop. Looking out of the driver’s side window I saw a freight train crossing the road not more than ten feet from the car.

The next day while speaking to my grandmother on the phone she asked me a surprising question. “Gary, where were you about 1:30 this morning and what were you doing?” I told her that I was driving back to campus and inquired as to why she wanted to know. She then informed me that she had been praying for me at 1:15 when the Lord put it on her heart to pray for my safety and divine protection. She further stated that at about 1:30 she felt a release and believed that I was out of harm’s way!

Coincidence? We all know better. God hears grandmothers who pray in the wee hours of the morning. He hears little children praying with their head under the covers. He hears and He cares. Lord teach me to pray for others like my grandmother prayed for me.

(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)