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Ethics & Religion
December 3, 2015
Column #1,788
The Importance of Prayer
By Mike McManus

This week The Washington Times published an inspiring special section of the paper, "America Needs Your Prayers" that was packed with thoughtful commentaries about the importance of prayer.

As Vonette Bright, cofounder of Campus Crusade for Christ, reminded her readers, James wrote: "The reason you don't have what you want is that you don't ask God for it" (James 4:2). Jesus himself said, "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

Walter Wang, CEO of the world' largest manufacturer of plastic pipe, was told that he had fourth stage nasopharyngeal cancer, with only one year to live. That night he told his 6-year-old daughter that "I may not be able to walk you down the aisle."

He went to a hospital in Hong Kong where he learned the cancer had spread to the base of his skull, and that he would need 195 hours of chemotherapy. He called Richard, a friend who was visiting from Malaysia. Though he was about to leave the next day, Richard felt God was telling him to remain with Walter and his wife, Shirley.

"He cancelled his plans and lived in a hotel nearby for the next five months, visiting me and praying for me every day through the long hours of chemotherapy," Walter wrote. While Richard prayed for him, he said that "what is critical to healing is forgiveness. Jesus forgave you for your sins, so you need to forgive others."

Walter made a list of three offenders, prayed for them and forgave then in Jesus' name. "After that prayer I felt a strong energy flow through me. I'm usually a serious guy, but I began to laugh, roll and shake the bedsheets for ten minutes. Afterwards, I felt light as a feather and joyous."

You can guess the rest of the story. That was ten years ago, and he has remained cancer free. God also took care of his company, JM Eagle, Inc. which was also able to repay half of its debt in six months.

Chuck Stetson, another businessman and a philanthropist who has supported my ministry, quotes Archbishop William Temple who once said, "When I pray, coincidences happen. When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening." Chuck said that was his experience as well.

Of course, there are those who don't believe in God. However, Chuck asks, "What is the upside and what is the downside of faith? The upside is huge. The downside? There is no downside. Thus, even if you are a skeptic, why would you not consider prayer?"

Stephen and Alex Kendrick have made five inspiring Christian films over the past 13 years and say, "We continue to be in awe of God's precise provision in response to specific prayers. Each film has been the result, not of our adequacy, but of a string of one answered prayer after another."

In their latest film, "War Room," an elderly widow shows a young woman her "wall of remembrance" in the foyer of her house. It is a collection of pictures which serve as mementos of specifically answered prayers in her life. The Kendrick brothers experienced something similar in their household growing up.

During the 1990s, they watched their dad "who did not have the money, books or classrooms launch an independent private Christian school." Once when he needed $7,000 to rent a modular classroom, he prayed for the $7,000. A few days later a married couple, unaware of the need, dropped by his office and said, "We believe God is leading us to give this to you." It was a check for $7,000!

Janet Parshall, host of a daily radio show on 700 stations, notes that only one in four Americans think the nation is headed in the right direction. Few seem to know what to do. She suggests that "What we need to do is look upward. We've been in rough places before as a nation...and those who went before us knew where to turn in times of trouble."

After winning the Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation provided too frail of a government for America. So a Constitution was drafted in 1789, which Congress ratified but not before adding the First Amendment which guaranteed religious liberty.

In his farewell address as President, George Washington established the first day of prayer, noting "It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."

Let us pray for America.

Copyright 2015 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers.

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