I have read often and in awe the inspired statement that says, “God can do some things if we pray that He cannot do if we don’t pray.” I am still a bit baffled by it, though I believe it. Let me tell you a short story and then you tell me if you think it might validate that dramatic sentence.
Recently Ruthie and I attended a major convocation of worshipers. The first part of the service we were blessed. Good music, passionate prayer, even a meaningful offering appeal. But when the preaching began we both immediately sensed that God had elected to draw near to a degree that we do not always sense, even when we are in His house.
We knew the preacher well; we have heard him speak often and we have always been blessed. Always. But there was something unusual this day. There was a power in his message, the Scriptures he referenced came through with unusual clarity. He told a story we had heard him tell before, but this was different. There was a forcefulness, a conviction, an authority that was profound.
Halfway through I glanced at my wife and discovered we were both in tears. So was the lady sitting to my right. There were reverent amens from across the large auditorium, even appropriate applause on occasion. God was up to something and we were moved by it. Had I looked up I would not have been surprised to see tongues of fire.
As the message concluded the speaker made a very specific appeal. Scores streamed to the front indicating they had made decisions of great consequence. They were met by individuals who had been prepared to welcome them and ask, “How can I pray for you today?” I have no question but that the population of eternity was expanded there at the front of the auditorium. I walked by nearly an hour later and many were still there being ministered to.
But here’s the part of the story I believe God wanted me to know because He wanted you to know. I learned that one of the pastors from that field and his wife became convicted that God wanted to do something out of the ordinary that morning. So in obedience they spent all night Friday night in earnest prayer that God would pour out His Spirit on that place without measure. That He would anoint the preaching. That He would confirm His Word in people’s hearts. That addictions would be broken, that marriages would be healed, that prodigals would come home, that a revival would be conceived.
So here’s my question: Would the preaching have been powerful had they not thus prayed? Would the music have been winsome and the offering appeal persuasive? Without a doubt. But something happens when God’s people pray. In fact, God can do some things if we pray that He cannot do if we don’t pray. I believe that.