Sometimes, Jesus reminded us, we need more than just praying.
The concept of talking to the God of the universe is a wonderful, amazing thing. Wonderful, because who would think that you could have a conversation with the One who created you? And amazing because He even listens and responds!
My wife, Sandi, and I have always had a prayer ministry in the churches we have pastored. We learned early on that many leaders make the mistake of thinking new believers automatically know how to pray when they become baptized believers. So, my wife set up her first Love Prayer Group in our churches to not only pray for each other and the church’s needs, but also to teach our people how to pray.
In one particular church we were in, we had an opportunity to get a local downlink station for a 3ABN satellite signal. The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had opened up a lottery drawing for the available station, and we voted to apply. Our “ticket” was placed in the drawing, and we began preparing by having the prayer group pray every day for the impending vote.
For two weeks, our group prayed fervently for the Lord to hear our prayers and allow us to be selected, so that the three angels’ messages could go out on the airwaves in our niche of the vineyard. Finally, the day came for the drawing, and we waited patiently for the results. One day, no answer; two days, still nothing. And then the answer came: we had lost!
God Speaks to the FCC
To say that we were disappointed was an understatement. At our next prayer group meeting that week, my wife announced that we were going to continue praying for the station, but this time we were going to add fasting (the neglected sister of prayer). I said, “But, honey, the drawing is over; we lost. It’s not like they’re going to draw again.” She said, “I don’t care. My God can do the impossible.” And so, the group continued to pray and fast for something I thought was a done deal.
Some two weeks later, we got a call from the FCC with some unexpected news. It seems that one of the interested parties had stacked the deck in their favor by flooding the vote box with duplicate entries of their ticket, and so the FCC had invalidated the winner and arranged to have a new drawing.
Talk about an electrified prayer group when we shared the news! Others then joined the group because of this remarkable answer to prayer, and we continued pressing the throne of grace as the new drawing time approached. It was almost anticlimactic when the vote came back that we had won the drawing this time. Even though we were excited about the news, no one was really surprised because God had already performed a miracle in our first prayers.
Prayer and fasting can change lives and pull down barriers that stubbornly resist normal praying. I have found that the Lord loves to answer our prayers when we pray sincerely and sacrificially. Always remember Matthew 17:20-21!
Bob Stewart is associate ministerial director and multiethnic ministries coordinator in the Michigan Conference.