There is no way I can deny the power of prayer.
I was raised on my parents’ battle cry: “Science has proved there is no God and It is not moral to believe what you know is not true.” But being forbidden to speak to me about God did not stop my aunt and others from talking to God about me. I was idealistic. I believed I lived a moral life. But then came WWII. It is easier to be a moral atheist in a sheltered home than in an army barracks. When I became desperate to find a moral power I did not possess, a train of improbable circumstances brought me to a Norwegian Lutheran Church in Des Moines the day God led the pastor to throw out his sermon and preach John 3:16. Five weeks later I was baptized in that church. It was a shaky confession of faith, but that man prayed and God has never let me go.
In due course I experienced God’s call to total surrender. Some time later, I was sent to Japan as a missionary. Then, after I was prayed for by a visiting Anglican evangelist who sensed my need for the power of the Holy Spirit, God empowered me to understand the Word and let God work through me.
In Japan, I witnessed a post-partum hemorrhage stop when a Swedish missionary “laid hold on the Lord” for Sally. I witnessed God silence the spiritual interference from a cult across the way, when four women claimed the power of the Blood of Christ. I had colleagues who had been touched by God in the 1949 Hebrides Revival, a work which owed its origin to the prayers of two old sisters who prayed night after night before the peat fire for God to do something for their godless parish.
For 10 years after that I prayed daily to see revival with my own eyes. It was no accident that in 1970 when God moved on the campus of Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, God had brought me there to witness that event. Lives that were touched then are still bearing fruit all over the world. But I am also witness to the fact that the awesome presence of God we knew then is no longer there, and I have had to grapple with why.
The intervening years have seen my ordination to the diaconate in the Episcopal Church, and the spiritual impact of our coming under the Church of Uganda in 2005. I have recognized with awe how the mantle of the East Africa Revival has been thrown over the many strands that have brought the Anglican Church in North America into existence. GAFCON itself was a work of prayer. The beginnings of the Anglican Church in North America have been a work of prayer characterized by the charity and repentant humility of bishops and archbishops from the very beginning.
God, who is all powerful, has given us prayer as a channel for His power to be released on earth. Nevertheless, although the power of Satan was broken at Calvary, principalities and powers are still doing their utmost to destroy the Kingdom of God. Those who lead us are under constant attack. Satan wants to distract them. He wants to discourage them. He wants them to make mistakes. He wants them to major on minors and minor on majors. He wants them to overwork. He wants them to disagree. Above all he wants them to take their eyes off God.
The warfare is real. But the weapons we fight with have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
The Apostle Paul did not hesitate to ask his churches to uphold him in prayer.
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will make known the mystery of the gospel. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19, Colossians 4:3-4)
I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. (Philemon 1:22)
Paul knew the importance of prayer. He prayed continually for the churches, urging them to pray for him and for one another. Where would the church be today had Ananias refused to pray for Saul of Tarsus? (Acts 9)
Paul needed the prayers of the church. Our leaders who give so much for us need our prayers. The Anglican Church of North America will become what we pray into being.
Lord, teach us to pray!