prayer power “The wonderful gift”

By Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel

The longer I am a Christian the more I realize the value of God’s gift to us, the gift of prayer. It doesn’t matter whether you are 3 years old, 83, or 103; the wonderful gift of prayer is for us all.

Some people don’t pray, or at least they say they don’t pray. I remember talking to a man who had been a Navy pilot in World War II, a tough, strong guy who appeared to fear nothing. He scoffed at religion and at anyone who went to church or prayed.  Once, flying on a secret night mission in a terrible storm, he found himself lost, separated from his teammates. Because of radio silence he could not reach out to get help. As he battled the storm, he realized he was all alone and had no one to call on. Hour after hour he battled the storm. For the first time since he was a child he prayed. “Oh God, if you’ll get me out of this I’ll follow you. Please help me; please, let me get home safe!”

The hours wore on, fuel was getting low, and suddenly, through the clouds, he saw an aircraft carrier. Dropping down from the sky, with just a few drops of fuel left, he landed safely.

It would be normal to expect him to forget the incident and go on as before. But he meant what he said, and when the war ended, he became a cadet in the The Salvation Army’s officers’ training college. He told me this story one day as we traveled to visit a corps.

He kept his promise. He served the Lord faithfully until he was promoted to Glory.

What if, suddenly, you couldn’t pray?

John’s father, Zechariah, was a priest. His wife, Elizabeth, was a cousin to Mary, the mother of Jesus. They had been praying hard and long for a child. One day, as Zechariah was serving in the temple, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah, your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to name him John. He will be a joy and a delight.”

Because of their age, they had given up all hope of having a child, and when the angel of the Lord announced that he and Elizabeth were to have one, Zechariah doubted and said, “How can I know this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

Because of his disbelief, the angel announced, “Since you didn’t believe what I said, you won’t be able to speak until the child is born.”

How did Zechariah handle not being able to speak or pray aloud? He was a priest. It was his duty to pray. Eight days after the birth of his son, he motioned for a writing tablet. To everyone’s surprise, he  wrote, “His name is John.” After nine months of silence, as soon as he obeyed God’s instructions in the naming of the child, he was healed. With that, he burst into a marvelous hymn of praise proclaiming a mighty Savior (Luke 1:68-79) whose coming would someday be announced by his son, John.

What if you couldn’t pray? What if the power of speech was suddenly denied you and you could not say or write a prayer? It would be a lonely, humbling experience.

Let us live differently this Christmas and maintain this living hope at the center of all we do. There is power in our prayers!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13 NIV).

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