Every day, twice a day, I drive the whole length of Bower Hill Rd. On the Bridgeville end, you may have seen a tiny little Baptist church, tucked into the hillside. For the longest time, they had a tarp on their roof. I would drive by the church and think about the blessing we have of this facility, while this poor little church didn't even have a decent roof, and would ask the Lord to bless them with a new roof. Then a few months ago, I saw workmen climbing up to replace it with a bright red metal roof. I was so happy to see that the Lord had blessed them with a new roof and a cheerful one at that!
Then, last month, I met the pastor of that church - she was at MLEPC attending a women's gathering. When she described where her church was, I immediately burst out, "You have a new roof!" She said yes, they had needed a new roof for nine years. Suddenly, out of the blue, someone donated the money to replace it. Praise God for answered prayers!
I was so excited, I told Pat Gaudio the story. It turned out she had been praying the same prayer for the church at the same time. We laughed, because neither of us thought we would hear how the story ended. But God sent this precious pastor to us so we could learn how He answered our prayers.
This week as we continue our series on the Renewal Journey, we will be focusing on the ways God can use our prayers to change the world. We will be looking first at the story of Esther. We see God at work throughout the story as he places Esther in just the right place, has the King hear about Mordecai's loyalty at just the right time, and then stirs up the people to pray so that Esther can find favor with the King. As a result, the Jewish people were saved from what could have been a horrific genocide.
We will also hear the story of Peter when he was thrown in jail in Acts 12. The people gathered together to pray all night, and suddenly an angel appeared to lead Peter out of the prison. The prayer warriors couldn't believe it when Peter showed up at the door - they were so surprised that the servant girl actually shut the door in his face!
For our modern story this week, we will learn about the "Layman's Prayer Revival," which started in New York City in 1857. It quickly spread throughout the country, including a major ministry in Pittsburgh. A faithful pastor invited people to join him for prayer. Six people came the first night, twenty the second night, forty the third night, and by 1858, 10,000 people were attending every day! It is estimated that over a million people became Christians as a result.
The Lord hears the prayers of His people. Are we praying with the expectation that God will hear and will answer? My little drive-by prayers about the roof felt insignificant at the time, but it was so encouraging that God heard them and did something about it. Are we also praying with the faith that God's plans are for our best, even when we don't get exactly what we want? One of the speakers for the Women's Retreat said when she asks God for something she always says, "either this or something better." Whether His answer is yes, wait, or "I have something better," we can always trust that it will be the right answer.
We have much to pray about as a church - for the needs of specific members, for our Summer Escape programs, for our neighbors, for the children the Lord keeps bringing through our doors, and for His wisdom, guidance, and protection every step of the way. The Lord invites us to pray boldly, to be specific, and to trust Him. He is our Good, Good Father, and He does have good plans for us. I can't wait to see what He has in store! Let us pray!
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and
heal their land." -
2 Chronicles 7:14