Why should I pray?

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

Are you a praying person?  Do you think that your prayers for a friend can really make a difference to the circumstances of their life?  
One of my favourite stories about the value of praying for others is told by the American preacher & author Tony Campolo in his book “You Can Make a Difference”.     
Tony was speaking at the chapel service of a small pentecostal college in the United States, and before the service some people prayed with him for his talk to go well.   
However, one person in that small prayer gathering didn’t pray for Tony or the chapel service, but instead prayed for a friend of his.   
“Lord, you know Charlie Stoltzfus”, his prayer began. “He lives in that silver house trailer about a mile down the road; you know the trailer Lord, just down the road on right hand side”. Tony was sure that God didn’t need reminding where Charlie Stoltzfus lived!   
The man’s prayer continued, “Lord, you know that Charlie told me this morning that he’s going to leave his wife and three children today. Lord don’t let that man leave his wife and children.  Send an angel to bring him back to that family. You know who I’m talking about, Lord; Charlie Stoltzfus, who lives down the road about a mile on the right-hand side in a silver house trailer, Amen”.   
What a strange prayer that was, thought Tony Campolo. 
The chapel service and talk seemed to go well, and afterwards Tony got in his car and headed home.  As he was driving out of town, he saw a young man hitch hiking on the side of the road, so he pulled in, and the man was glad to accept the offer of a lift.   
As they pulled back on to the road Campolo introduced himself; “Hi, my name’s Tony Campolo”, to which the man replied, ‘My name’s Charlie Stoltzfus’. Tony Campolo didn’t say a word but drove to the next junction turned around and headed back to town.   
The man looked nervously at Tony and asked him what he was doing. “I’m taking you home” Tony replied.  
“Why?”   
“Because you just left your wife and children – right ?”    
“Right” said Charlie Stoltzfus.   
Following the directions the man earlier that evening had given in his prayer, Tony Campolo drove right up to Charlie Stoltzfus’ silver trailer, and parked. “How did you know where I lived?” Charlie Stoltzfus asked; “God told me!” replied Tony.   
“Let’s go inside; I need to talk with you and your wife.”  When Charlie opened the door to the trailer home, his wife exclaimed, “You’re  back! You’re back!”  
Charlie whispered in her ear, explaining the strange events of the last half hour, and the more he talked, the bigger her eyes got.  That evening, Tony talked and prayed with Charlie and his wife, and in time their marriage relationship was restored.   
God answered that man’s seemingly strange, pre-chapel service prayer in a most remarkable way.  In the New Testament, in James 5:16, we’re told that, “the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results”.   
In other words, as ordinary believing people pray for the needs of others, whether they are strangers to us, or those we love, God promises that he will hear our cries for help and respond accordingly.   
Last Sunday evening, over 250 people from different churches in the Bay gathered together around their laptops and tablets on Zoom, to pray together for the needs of our communities.   
Among other things, we asked God that he would give his wisdom for those in leadership; that he would protect and strengthen those who work in our hospitals and care homes; and we also prayed God’s best for all who work or study in our schools.   
Joining together in this way was a simple, but vital reminder that, as Christians, we believe that all of our lives are in God’s hands.