By Dr. Mark H. Creech
You may have heard that old story about the minister who died and found himself standing in line waiting to be judged.
While waiting he asked the man in front of him about himself. “I’m a taxi driver from Noo Yawk Cidy,” the fellow replied.
Suddenly the angel standing at the gate called out “Next,” and the taxi driver stepped up. The angel handed him a golden staff and a cornucopia of fruits, cheeses, and other gifts and let him pass. The taxi driver was more than pleased, and he proceeded through the pearly gates.
Next the minister stepped up to the angel and the angel handed him a wooden staff and some bread and water. The minister was very perplexed, and he asked the angel, “That guy is a taxi driver and gets a golden staff and a cornucopia, as well as a number of other gifts. I spend my entire lifetime as a minister and get nothing! How can this be?!”
The angel replied, “Up here, we judge on results. People slept through your sermons. In his taxi, they all prayed.”
Well, one thing is for certain – prayer does get results.
Renowned Bible commentator William Barclay notes that the Jews used to have a saying that he who prays surrounds his house with a wall stronger than iron. They also said, “Penitence can do something; but prayer can do everything.”
James in his epistle, notes, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:15-16). The late Dr. J Vernon McGee says James himself “was a great man of prayer.” He was known by many as “Old Camel Knees” because he had spent so much time on his knees before God that they were calloused.
James also writes of another great man of prayer, Elijah, the prophet. He writes of Elijah, “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:17-18)
Think of it. Elijah was someone just like us – just a man – a man with all the same struggles, weaknesses, and desires of life. He was no superman, as some might think. But Elijah did trust God and he was a man who earnestly prayed. He walked in right relationship with God. When he asked God for something, he was mostly asking something for God’s sake. He wanted God to be honored among his countrymen. That’s why his prayers got results. And that’s the kind of praying desperately needed today.
This week marks another year for the National Day of Prayer. If there ever was a time to pray for our nation this is it.
America is in trouble – big trouble! Despite her many blessings, she has thumbed her nose at God and flagrantly defied his will. Indeed God is a God of amazing grace, but he is also a God of wrath, who will not stay his hand indefinitely. His grace can be exhausted.
This is why we must pray. We must pray, humbly, acknowledging the spiritual and moral bankruptcy of our land. For many decades, America’s cup has over flowed with material wealth and fortune. Nevertheless, she is experiencing great spiritual impoverishment and if she continues on the present course, she is likely to end up economically destroyed.
Dwight D. Eisenhower once admonished his fellow Americans, “The spirit of man is more important than mere physical strength, and the spiritual fiber of a nation than its wealth.”
We must start imploring God for his cleansing and mercy. It’s our only hope.
The father of our great nation, George Washington, once admonished: “The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
No government plan can ever suffice for being the kind of people that can make and sustain that “shining city on a hill” – the one that procures freedom, justice, and prosperity for all – the one that garners the “smiles of heaven”.
I want to urge you to pray for a new revolution of freedom in America – spiritual freedom – the liberty that comes from trusting God, repenting of one’s sins, and having faith in Christ. Pray that God will start this new revolution of freedom in you – right now – today.
Now, that kind of praying will really get results.