The letter on my desk carried an urgent message. The sender, Major Louis Best, began his long distance message to me for three reasons: to thank me for my column of that week, which he had read in a newspaper sent to him by a school near his home, to tell me how he had been brought to faith in Christ years earlier while fighting a forest fire in the state of Washington and to ask me to pray for him and other military men who served in dangerous places.
This man of faith was especially concerned about the spiritual needs of those, like him, who might be called upon to lay their lives on the line in battle. While we had never met, he felt free to share his long distance concerns with me and ask for prayer, believing the miles between us wouldn’t matter to the One who hears prayer since He holds the whole world in His hands.
The long distance phone call I received from a minister was to ask for prayer regarding a different kind of battle, a spiritual war that was being waged in his church. I’ve received many requests from ministers for prayer but this cry for help was different. When pastors call asking for prayer they are usually under fire from problem prone people in their congregations, but this preacher had concluded he was the problem.
"I’ve been watching what’s been happening in my church and see that I’m the reason for it," he said, adding "Pray that I will be revived."
"You’re halfway there," I replied.
The moment we face up to our faults and start doing something about them, we are on our way to greater effectiveness. This minister was determined to remove any roadblocks to spiritual renewal in his church by enlisting some long distance praying for the needed breakthrough in his church to begin in him.
The late world known evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, once said he faced his worst enemy each morning while shaving. He didn’t mean he hated his image in the mirror, but in confronting his weaknesses early and overcoming them before they spoiled his day he increased his potential to make a difference in the lives of others and the world.
"Perilous times will come," wrote Paul to a young minister (2 Timothy 3:1). And with the rise of worldwide terrorism it’s easy to see why many students of Bible prophecy see present perils as fulfillments of Paul’s prediction. Current conditions incubate fear about what’s ahead, but it’s important to remember that nothing takes God by surprise and prayer changes things.
Political solutions fail but prayer prevails.
Those who choose to major on prayer choose best.
Let communities be challenged and comforted by the possibilities of prayer and churches be packed with praying people; then the Biblical promise for periods of peril will produce personal peace: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org