Throughout my years as a missionary I’ve witnessed and heard first-person accounts of the power of prayer. Sometimes it feels like our prayers bounce off the heavens and return unheard, but we know that’s not true. Prayer is incredibly powerful and something I’m pleased to say is a cornerstone of TWR Canada. Each morning, as staff, we gather to pray for the ministry, for listeners, and for any requests we receive via email or phone.
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
When you work in full time missions as long as I have, you hear some fantastic stories. I served on the island of Bonaire for nine years, six of those years as a diesel mechanic, and was then transferred to Africa. I arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1996.
South Africa has a crime problem, that’s not news. Leading up to the 2010 World Cup, the BBC reported 18,000 murders a year in South Africa. The stats on rape vary depending on the study, but they’re all similarly appalling. Carjacking is very common and though usually no one is injured, people are threatened and forced from their vehicles. Some insurance companies have refused to insure certain types of popularly-targeted vehicles. There are signs posted warning people of high-crime areas.
Personally, I was very fortunate to never have been the victim of any of these kinds of crime. My wife’s Bible was stolen from our car and our windshield smashed, but that was in Swaziland. (She still mourns the loss of that Bible – hopefully it’s blessed whoever took it.)
An Amazing Story
When we arrived in Joburg, my wife and I began attending a smaller church and though the services there weren’t what we were used to we very much enjoyed the teaching and fellowship. Shortly after arriving in the country, a prayer request was sent out via the prayer chain.
A young mother had been carjacked outside her home. Thieves forced her from the car and left her in the driveway. (It’s very common for homeowners to have perimeter walls or fences with gates to discourage criminals and keep out baboons and other animals.) She immediately ran inside, called the pastor, and asked for prayer. The pastor mobilized the prayer chain.
She had lost her vehicle, but what the thieves didn’t realize was that her young daughter was in the back seat of the car.
Then she called the police. When she had finished, she hung up the phone and turned. Standing in the doorway was her daughter. She embraced the girl. “How did you get away? How did you get home?”
The girl told her mother the thieves had stopped at an intersection, still not realizing the girl was in the car. A giant man jumped on the bonnet of the car and drove a sword through the engine. The car stalled. The thieves were so terrified they left the car at the intersection and ran away.
So the child climbed out of the car and walked home.
Other passersby seemed unaware of the reason the men ran screaming down the street, and there was no apparent damage to the car.
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” Psalm 91:11
Let me tell you another story. There were TWR missionaries in South Africa who were carjacked and taken out into the wilderness. We didn’t know if they were dead or alive, but I immediately mobilized all of TWR to pray for this couple’s safety. I had the TWR office in Cary, NC put an announcement over the PA system for everyone to stop what they were doing and pray. TWR staff around the world prayed for this in-progress situation. The couple returned some time later, sans vehicle. The thieves had taken them to a township to kill them and stopped suddenly.
“We are not going to kill you because we know people are praying for you.”
The thieves forced the couple from their car and left them unharmed.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18
That’s the power of prayer, my friends. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
Have you experienced or witnessed a powerful answer to prayer? Share your story in the comments.