(Reprinted from the August, 2007, Word and Work)

There are lots of looney ideas out there about this subject. Here are some samples.

The Last Resort: A Christian doctor told a patient and the family, “I’ve done all I can to save you; now all we can do is pray.” One of the relatives blurted out, “Oh no! Has it come to that?”

God is Very Reluctant: My dear dad-in-law, Jesse Wood, told of a sailor whose ship had been dive-bombed and was feared to be sinking. The sailor cried out, “0 God, if you’ll save me just this once, I promise never to bother you again!”

I Want It Now-I Can’t Wait: A woman overheard Dad Wood (who worked in the same office), say he was going to prayer-meeting that night: “What do you all do at prayer-meeting?” “We pray.” “Hunh;” she replied; “I tried that one time, and it didn’t work!” .

Well, lots of us can say “It does work”-or rather, He does work, as we pray!


A leading trial-lawyer once said: “When my case in court is not very strong, I talk, argue, reason, and debate. But when I have a very strong case, I call the Witnesses!” We are going to do that now.··

1. George Washington Carver, the amazing and justly famous black scientist who as a youth had been a slave, publicly said: I went into the lab one day and prayed, “0 Great Creator, tell me about the universe.” But God replied, “George, you want to know too much.” So I said, “Then Lord, tell me about the world.” But He said, “George, try something your own size.” Then I said, “Ok, Great Creator, tell me about the peanut.” And He said, “O-K, George; I will.”

And He did! In answer to the prayers of that humble believer, God enabled him to make over 300 products from peanuts=such as soap, coffee, and ink. He made the peanut a very profitable crop for southern planters, especially small farmers, and thus helped bailout the South’s economy.

2. C. S. Lewis was an outstanding professor at Oxford and Cambridge, and author of Mere Christianity, the Narnia series and many other outstanding books. Once he had an important appointment in London, so planned to get a haircut sooner than usual the morning before his trip there. Then he was notified that his appointment was cancelled, so he decided not to get the haircut for a few more days.

But during the next hour be had a recurring, nagging feeling. It was as if a voice said, “Get it anyway, get it today, go on …. ” So finally he did. The barber was a Christian with many problems, whom Lewis had helped on previous occasions. As soon as Lewis walked in the door the man said, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you. I prayed you would come today!” He was facing a crisis which Lewis could help him with. But if that haircut had been postponed for justone day, it would have been too late.

In the Family

(Excuse the references to personal experiences, but that’s the only kind we’ve had.)

3. During the 1950’s, high-school student Ruth Wood began having strange and increasingly severe pains. Doctor after doctor was perplexed, till after a year or so it was finally diagnosed as a deadly cancer called Osteogenic Sarcoma. (She was not informed of that fact.) It was wrapped around her spinal cord. A neuro-surgeon in Dallas operated, but could remove only part of it, and informed her parents she would live maybe 6 months – a year at the very most. But many Christians had been praying, and kept it up. And soon her pain went away.”

Ruth’s great desire was to enroll at Southeastern Christian College in Winchester, Kentucky, so contrary to the Dallas doctor’s urgent advice she and her parents moved there. The Dallas doctor insisted that at the very least she be examined by a world-renowned neurologist in Louisville, Dr. Glenn Spurling. (He had been flown to Europe after Gen. George Patton’s accident, to try to save his life- though that was impossible.) When told that she still had some of that cancerous tumor in her backbone, he couldn’t believe it until smear-slides were sent him from Baylor Hospital. Dumbfounded, he remarked, “I’ve never seen that before” -for she was not only still alive, but pain-free and active. And she is still alive and serving Christ – decades later.

4. My sister Fran and her family moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where her husband Dick Longenecker wished to study for his doctorate in theology. He had already been accepted by the registrar. But after they moved there he was told, “We can’t accept you because of a technicality regarding your enrollment.” He hadn’t turned in some paper on time-in fact, not at all, for they had never informed him about it! It was learned that the real cause behind his rejection was a power struggle within the university administration, making Dick a test case. (“Even our Registrar doesn’t follow our rules. We’ll show him he can’t get away with that!”) Dick appealed their decision, and learned that the final decision would be made at the next Board of Governors’ meeting.

Knees bowed and prayer ascended. And two Board-members just happened to be absent from the meeting that day: the main opponent and his major ally! Dick went on to get his degree there.

5. Earlier, I went to kindergarten through grade 10 in public schools, rather than to our church’s Portland Christian School. But while in grade 10 at Atherton, I began wanting very much to attend PCHS. That summer my parents and I thought, discussed, and prayed about it. (Dad later became PCS’ #1 promotional-man, but- believe it or not at that earlier time he feared I might not get a top-notch education there! He sure changed his mind later.)

One morning at breakfast Mom read a newspaper article saying that day was opening day for the public schools. None of us had realized that fact; we thought it was several days away. By the time we read the article it was already late, I was not yet dressed, I’d have to get a ride, etc. We’d never ever done that before! (Or since.) We quickly concluded that our overlooking the date was not just a coincidence, but that the Lord really did want me to transfer to PCHS-which didn’t open till 2 days later. I enjoyed and benefited from those two years very greatly, also got to take Brother Boll’s after-school Bible classes that time, and after college I returned to teach there for 3 years.

At School

6. While teaching there, I heard this story from a Christian family. They had lived in another city but became greatly distressed because their daughter was being badly influenced by immoral friends in public school. Her attitude toward her parents and the Lord was getting bad. So the family moved to Louisville so she could attend PCHS.

But once here, she began running around with some trouble-makers, just as she’d formerly done. They had rotten attitudes, cut classes, smoked, and ran around with ungodly boys. The girl’s parents begged God: “Did we change jobs and move here for nothing? Lord, do something by next Friday or we’ll have to put her in public school or else move elsewhere. ” On that next Friday the worst troublemakers were expelled, for serious rule-breaking. The daughter reformed outwardly, and later repented inwardly too and became a strong follower of Christ.

7. In 1961, PCS needed a replacement for a teacher named Lois Campbell, who was going to Dallas to help establish a new Christian school there. We had a small faculty then, and she had been our major teacher in grades 7-8.

A diligent search turned up nobody available. Thus many prayed, “S-O-S, Lord!” Now Alice Crowder was an experienced middle-school teacher, and chorus director to boot. But she lived in Sellersburg, 14 miles from PCS (and there was no 1-65 then). Her preacher-husband, Hall Crowder, needed the family car for visitation (and there were few 2-car families in those days). Nobody near them could give her a lift to PCS. Again the cry arose, “S-O-S, Lord.”

Now it “just so happened” that soon Hall’s uncle (not Alice’s) in St. Louis, who knew nothing of this need, wrote to Alice (not Hall), saying, “I’m too old to drive anymore, and don’t know what to do with my car. Would you like it, Alice?” Hmmm. Well, Alice also had a 2-year old, with no grand-momma nearby. But Karen was a very compliant child who played contentedly in the church nursery next to the classroom-the door between them remaining open.

Thank You, Father.

We Pray-God Guides and Provides

8. When Ruth and 1 were engaged but not yet married, we knew the Lord had called us to be missionaries. But we were uncertain if He wanted us to go to the Philippines or Hong Kong. Our spiritual gifts seemed to fit in more with Central Bible Institute in the Philippines, so we believed that probably that was the place. But we were not 100% sure, so we prayed earnestly for the Lord to definitely confirm His guidance one way or the other.

One morning while shaving I remembered hearing a testimony of a Christian who “put out a fleece” (remember Gideon?) in order to discern God’s will. A thought came to my mind: “We fairly recently wrote our missionary friends both in Hong Kong and in the Philippines. Those in the Philippines have answered already, but the Allens not yet. It would seem more likely that we’d hear next from them than from the Philippines twice in a row. So I’ll suggest to

Ruth tonight that we ask God that if, as we feel is probable, He wants us in Manila, He will certify that call by having us get a letter from there before we get one from Hong Kong.”

In the next few minutes three things happened. I finished shaving, the day’s mail came, and there was a letter to us from-guess where?

9. One time co-missionary Harold Preston’s monthly check from his treasurer in the U.S. didn’t come. (Much later he discovered it was because the plane with that mail had crashed.) Before long he with his wife and six children were running out of money. Of course they took their need to the Throne of Grace, for God is able to over-rule even the postal service!

When their funds were nearly exhausted, one day Harold walked (not rode) to the downtown post office and there was a letter plus a check from a lady who never before nor afterwards sent funds direct to Manila (but always to their treasurer). Of course she’d known nothing of their crisis. But if she’d sent it to the treasurer that time it would have been part of the check that was lying on the floor of the Pacific! Her gift tided them over till the problem was resolved

10. Later, due to Vena Preston’s poor health, she and Harold with their six children needed to move back to the U.S. But the need had arisen very suddenly and they had no travel funds saved up. That time God provided by means of an insurance policy which, unknown to Harold, his dad years before had designated to him. It came due just at that time! Just a coincidence, of course.

Well, we’ve heard ten testimonies of God’s amazing answers to His children’s cries in time of need. Let’s join David in Psalm 34 as he exalted his Shepherd and Provider:

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.

My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles ….

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him

More Heart-Searchers About Prayer-and Obedience

“The power for doing the Sermon on the Mount is put in (1) the Beatitudes at its beginning [Blessed are the poor in spirit, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness-knowing they lack it], (2) in the Lord’s Prayer in the middle and (3) in the ‘ask, seek, knock’ promises near the end of the sermon. Like three deep springs beside a trail these three texts empower those who walk the high mountain of this sermon.” (Dale Bruner.)

Do We Use Our Knees?

The late Bakht Singh of India was the planter of scores of new churches there during the mid-1900s, and the leader of a movement of many hundreds of churches. During a visit to the U.S. (including a chapel talk at Portland Christian School) he said,

“In India we don’t have the money, buildings, equipment, education or training you in the U.S. have … but God gave everybody two knees! We have learned how to use our knees. In almost every U.S. church, the prayer-meetings are the poorest-attended meetings, and often they seem dead or unreal. In India we love to pray, and God answers. In one of the poorest countries in the world, we have never lacked what we need.”

-Alex Wilson lives in Louisville, KY and is  Editor of  Word & Work