I encountered a man the other day who spoke a 3-minute conversation. Although it was only a brief conversation, his transparency won my respect not for what he had accomplished in this life, but for his strong confidence and belief in our Heavenly Father. I don’t remember his name nor would I be able to recognize him, but I will never forget what he demonstrated. His actions and beliefs displayed a heart of expectation, humility and determination. My new friend stepped out of the business of his day and made a priority to “listen for thunder”. I met this gentleman while visiting a prayer house.
I had arrived a few minutes before him. Upon my arrival I went through the visitor procedures of the five-room community prayer house. As I maneuvered through the house I gazed at each wall, I soon found myself in the back room. The room was about 10 x 12 and it’s only occupancy was a kneeling bench pushed up against the only solid wall of the room. The other three walls each had two windows that were covered with blinds to keep the summer heat out, but still allowed light through to offer a dimly lit quiet refuge from the outside world. Just like the hallway I found myself overwhelmed by the needs presented on the walls of the room I had just discovered. My eyes began to gaze over the countless petitions written on sticky notes plastered almost as wall paper from floor to ceiling. My soul ached with empathy as I read the requests that had been presented to God. Etched out in pencil, marker or pen each represented a request that only God could provide. Some were for healing, protection, direction, provision, and many for the salvation of loved ones.
After a few minutes of panning the room, I knelt to pray trying to regain my focus on what brought me to the prayer house to begin with. As I ventured into my objective a gentleman walked into the room with his Bible in hand. Obviously, my presence startled him as he somehow entered and exited in the same step. He quickly began to apologize for the interruption. His manner of entrance into the room signified to me that he was familiar with the room. Along with his apologies, he suggested he would go to one of the other rooms of the house. Assuring him that his entrance was quite all right, I acknowledged that clearly, he was familiar with the room.
“This room is special to you, isn’t it?” I said.
He replied with a nod and pointed to a photo that was taped on the wall. The photo was a family portrait.
The color 4 x 6 photo, adhered to the wall by masking tape across the top, displayed a family of five with each family member having a smile that could conquer the world. Three young children were shown with their mom and dad standing behind them proud as ever. The picture would have been the perfect Facebook post to scream to the world “We are the perfect family.”
My heart melted when he explained why he was there at the prayer house. “I come here and pray for God to put my family back together. You see, I messed up and did some things I shouldn’t have done. In the midst of it all, my wife walked out and took the kids,” he explained. His passion for restoration exuded with every word.
He continued to explain he comes to the prayer house every day after he gets off work. I had recently committed myself to attending the prayer house the tenth of every month, and secretly hoped I would remember each month. His dedication to separate himself from the distraction and responsibilities of this world spoke volumes to what made my commitment seem at that moment a tiny one.
I graciously departed from the room and found myself a different room. Again, I knelt trying to think of my objective in coming. I tried to gather my thoughts. Nothing could penetrate the thought of what had just occurred and my heart’s demeanor before FAITH literally walked in the room. My objective was now overshadowed with the testimony I had just witnessed. I thought of the possible words he might be praying at that exact moment. Tears began to flow as I could not comprehend the feeling of losing my family and the enduring consequence of knowing it was by my own actions. My heavenly Father then assured me in my spirit that He offers boundless grace to his children by giving us the power of prayer, a way to go to Him with every need we have. Further assuring me that He allows us to ask Him to make right our wrongs, this hope renewed my faith to pray earnestly. The man who knelt next door to me sat before the Lord asking to be the man God intended him to be, the spiritual leader of his family. When our earnest prayers match God’s word, we can stand in assurance He will be faithful.
Scripture speaks of earnest prayer in James 5: 15-18-
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he prayed and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
Pondering these verses has reminded me of a time in my childhood when I was impacted by men who walking in faith passionately presented their petitions to God. Some of my earliest memories are from the prayer meetings of my small rural church I attended as a child. I would watch and listen in amazement as men stood or knelt with bended knee and prayed for rain. I knew absolutely nothing about farming at that age, but I knew from the broken sounds of their voices the need was great. My young mind comprehended they desperately needed rain. Being a farming community, this prayer was voiced many times.
One time in particular will always resonate with me. Our service ended with a time of prayer at the altar. I watched and listened as many of the men went forward and surrounded the altar. One by one they took turns praying out loud. I hung on every word trying to process what was being spoken. After a while the men finished and church was dismissed. As we walked out the doors we were greeted with the smell and sound of rain and thunder. Soon after the sounds of thunder, the moisture of rain the men had desperately asked God to provide drenched the dry soil. God had heard those farmers’ prayers just like Elijah’s and His glory showered my small community with what they needed most.
I’m not sure where this prayer house man of faith is today. But I know the earnestness of his prayers will be answered just like his confidence he displayed. As a child I did not hear the thunder while the prayers for rain were being offered. I wonder if the farmers from my church heard the thunder coming in their spirit as they offered God their desperate pleas. Just like my friend heard the sounds of his family being put back together when he prayed, I want to hear thunder when I pray— no matter how distant it may be.
How would your life be different with a prayer life like the man of faith I encountered?