A friend who pastors in Delhi reminded me just this week that their church survives only by prayer. As I listen to him speak of desperate challenges, of people who are beaten and abused for attending church, of people oppressed by disease, poverty and evil spirits, I can only shake my head in shame for the North American church. My problems are trivial besides life and death struggles there. And they turn to prayer time and time again. At General Assembly I heard a pastor from North India speak. A few years ago he and many Christians were falsely accused by extremists and held in jail for numerous months. They prayed. Canadian Presbyterians prayed. God’s power was made evident. Hmm.
How do you respond to this title to one of Philip Yancey’s books? Prayer: does it make any difference? (Zondervan, 2006) Yancey says “I have learned that Christians who have no access to earthly power truly believe prayer gives them access to a greater power. They see prayer as our strongest weapon against invisible forces.” (see Ephesians 6:10-20) He quotes Karl Barth: “to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” In this book there are accounts from history showing how prayer played a significant role in the removal of oppressive regimes in Romania and Poland, and that oppressive image, the Berlin wall.
Take a moment to see the same power of prayer at work in the early church. Peter in prison – and then the church prayed on his behalf (Acts 12); Paul and Silas praying in a Philippian jail (Acts 16). Tremendous results! Let’s turn the power on shall we?