My dad did the grocery shopping for our family. For him, it was a social thing. He loved running into friends and visiting in the aisles.
He must have influenced me. I do most of our grocery shopping and still go inside the store. No outside pickup for me. I do some of my best ministry inside when I run into church members, prospective members, and other friends.
One Sunday, I stopped by the store after worship and a lady I didn’t recognize stopped me in the aisle and asked, “Do you eat at Village Café?”
I answered, “I have eaten at Village Café several times. I really like it. I haven’t been there lately, but, yes, I eat at Village Cafe.”
She said, “You prayed for me.”
I must have looked puzzled. She continued, “My husband and I were trying to have a child and I had had several miscarriages, but you prayed for me, and this is our miracle. Thank you for praying for me.”
Standing with her was her eight-year-old son, Landon. She worked as our server that day. I honestly didn’t remember, but she did.
Praying for others is a tremendous, impactful gift. Jeremiah 33:3 reads, “Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things . . .”
God’s command to pray is also His invitation to experience His boundlessness. When we neglect prayer, we miss out on seeing God do great and mighty things. F. B. Meyer, British pastor and author, said, “The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.”
Several years ago, a Georgia man was awakened early one Sunday morning, and sensed an urgency to pray for missionary friends serving in the Dominican Republic. Later that day, a church member living in Tennessee who had visited the Caribbean nation stood before his congregation and asked them to pray for missionaries he felt were in great danger.
Prayer was exactly what the Roger Gaunt family needed that Sunday. Returning to their home in La Romana after morning worship, the Gaunts and their three teenage children walked in on at least three armed robbers who were burglarizing their residence. The intruders took the family hostage at gunpoint and held them against their will for five hours.
The Gaunts were gagged, blindfolded, and bound at their hands and feet. At one point, a gunman threatened a family member and struck others.
After taking many of their personal belongings, eventually the robbers left and a family member got loose and freed the others. Gaunt shared he felt God was in that room, in control and guarding the family from harm.
“We know it was the prayers that went up to the Lord that preserved our lives,” Gaunt said.
There’s a powerful story from the ministry of Dwight L. Moody. Moody, the dynamic evangelist in the 1800’s, needed rest and traveled to England for vacation, where he didn’t plan to preach.
However, Moody met the pastor of a church in North London, who invited him to preach. Moody agreed and the next Sunday morning preached his heart out to a cold congregation, who showed little interest. He didn’t want to go back but kept his commitment Sunday evening. That evening was an entirely opposite experience. The presence of the Lord was obvious.
As Moody proclaimed the message, a hush fell over the building. When he finished, Moody appealed for anyone who wished to come to Christ to stand. Numerous people immediately stood across the sanctuary, weeping and broken. Great numbers of people made decisions for Christ.
What happened between morning and evening? A woman came home after morning worship and told her bed-bound, invalid sister an American named Moody preached that morning.
The sister immediately exclaimed, “God heard my prayer!”
She had read about Moody’s impact in the newspaper and had prayed for months that somehow, someway, God would bring Moody to London to preach in her church. She skipped lunch and spent the afternoon in fervent prayer for God to move.
God did move! Moody preached there for ten days, and 400 people made decisions, primarily because one faithful lady who had a burden for the spiritual condition of her church prayed and asked God to unleash His power.
God will show us great and mighty things if we will ask. Prayer makes the difference.
David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for information and to view services online. Visit www.davidchancey.com to see Chancey’s other writings, including his new book.