Tag Archives: Stories on the Power of Prayer

CALM IN THE MIDST OF A STORM

Calm in the Midst of a Storm

by Jan Cox

Read: Luke 8:22-25    

“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm” (Luke 8: 24 NIV)

We had had a glorious sunny day boating with friends on our lake. The lake travels for twelve miles and we found ourselves at the furthest point from home. We had turned the boat around to start back when in the distance we saw the sky turning black. The clouds looked ominous, building bigger and darker in the west. The wind started to pick up and the waves started to roll. As my husband put the boat into full throttle, he steered us back toward our cottage.

The waves sprayed the sides of our boat and we felt the temperature dropping. I remembered the Bible passage from Mark 4:37, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. ” The disciples had been afraid. They were sure they were destined to drown.

For me, this could have been a nerve-wracking ride, but I have learned the peace of Christ.  I quietly prayed and instantly felt a peace in my heart. Jesus tells us to have faith and not be afraid. Even though the waves raged around us I was calm in the midst of the storm.

I had not always felt that way. Whenever I found myself in a situation that I could not control, I would panic. I would picture the worse, and like the disciples I would fear a calamity or even death.  “The disciples woke him [Jesus] and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” I had felt this way in the past.

This time, as my husband navigated the turbulent winds and waves, I felt calm and sure. He even docked properly on the first try. Through my faith, God had calmed my fears, kept the driver and passengers calm and I saw “the wind and the waves obey Him.”

Thought for the day: With Christ beside us all fears can pass away.

Prayer: Lord, let us remember to have faith and feel Your peace at all times. You can calm the storms in our lives.

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Jan, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. She has published two devotionals and a number articles for magazines and a Bible study. She is owner of Under the Cover of Prayer and moderates the site. She also writes at A Better Way. Jan has written a children’s book in which she is also the watercolour illustrator. She hopes to publish it this year.

BEING HIS

Being His

by Jan Cox

As you are reading this I will have started my first few days of camp in Poland. This is my third trip with International Messengers to an English Family Camp.

Jesus says we can’t become a disciple if we are tied to anyone – we must be His alone.

In order to spread the Good News as a disciple I had to leave behind the NORMAL and RELIABLE. Jesus has to be responsible for me and I have to rely on Him alone..

Oswald Chambers says:

“The secret of the missionary is – I am HIS, and He is carrying out His entreprises through me. Be Entirely His.”

A COUPLE OF STORIES:

The summer of 2010 placed me in new hurdle. I had to fly the first leg of the journey alone – no one else was coming from Eastern Canada. I had never travelled alone. I had never even had dined in a restaurant alone. Once again God was there. It was actually fun! Except for the 9 hour wait at Heathrow Airport – God kept me company and I became HIS.

But I was so tired… So tired and needing to see a friendly face. When I saw the first 2 orange IM shirts (and they were bright orange) – I embraced this startled couple. I was so excited to see them after such a long wait. Tom and Deb are a very quiet reserved couple – If you know me you will how excited I can get. Tom told me later that he wondered what on earth he had been led into. This was his first trip as a missionary. Even after that startled beginning, Tom, Deb and I became good friends as we grew to know each other and our passion for Christ grew us closer together. Tom teased me incessantly about my energy and jumping about.

A miracle. Pastor Cezary lives in Gorzow and our camp was 5 hours away by car in Karpatcz. Cezary had an 18 year old car in which he travelled with Ewa and three children. It was long past its “last legs”. He was told by the garage not to take it on long trips. Miraculously he drove to camp and back without a problem. We did pray over that car before we left camp and headed for Gorzow. IM fundraised this past year for a van in which Cezary could take kids to camp, pick them up for after school meetings and drive to summer camps as well. Now he  drives a 9-person van and is grateful to all who contributed.

MY THOUGHTS:

Mission Trips like IM impact three sets of people

1. The national IM staff

The pastor and his family are encouraged by our participation. Without English speakers these camps would not take place. Family camps give an opening to people who would not necessarily attend a Protestant church and it gives them a chance to know a personal Jesus. It gives the pastor an opening into their lives as he continues to build these relationships after we have left.

2 The campers 

For the unbelievers it may be the first time they have held a Bible;

They may discover that God can speak to them without a priest as mediator; One camper said: “This is the first time I have ever been with a group of people who could talk to God as you do.”

Believers are encouraged through fellowship with the North American church – knowing we care and love them.

Campers said they felt unconditionally loved. That’s why they have returned each year. And this is true of all IM camps.

3. Our team members

Most feel inadequate for the task but when they say “yes” to God, they discover His enabling power. They go back home and have courage to say “yes” to other assignments He gives

Many have to raise financial support in order to go. Those who say “yes” inevitably are overwhelmed with God’s ability to provide.

A trip such as this can stretch us to the max – physical weariness, cross-cultural challenges, working with differing personalities. It is a perfect time to learn true servant hood and relying on God through all times. (Philippians 2)

When we go out of our comfort zones, we must rely on God. So instead of depending on our own abilities and strengths we rest in Him to make us more than we are. We are forced to live by faith. That is when we experience God in deeper and more exciting ways.

When doing something you really love to do, we come alive – it becomes a Holy Time and that is how I feel when I am on these trips. Wrapped in God’s love the whole time.

What makes your Holy Time? It can be anything that you love to do. I love teaching Sunday School, singing with actions, dancing, painting and writing. I think I can even say I love talking to a group.

When we listen to God – we can hear what He is saying.

Where is your heart? When we focus on God we feel a purity of heart. Things become less about us and instead who we are focused on  – God. Being HIS.

“Always measure your life solely by the standards of Jesus. Submit yourself to His yoke, and His alone” Oswald Chambers

Missions is simply being touched by people and meeting their needs.

You don’t have to go out of the country to do ministry.

When you give, you get back so much more.

Tell you a little bit more next week.

Prayer:

Lord help us all to step out of our comfort zones, to attempt to rely on You, alone. Little steps can lead to bigger steps. Help us. Remind us that You are beside us always. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

My Gratitude List continues:

  • a helpful and faithful husband
  • restful boat ride
  • chance meeting with an old friend
  • chance meeting with another old friend
  • lunch with a friend
  • hugs and prayers with another friend
  • lambs running in the field
  • fresh produce from a local farmer
  • delicious salad, sautéed garlic tops
  • wonderful friends at Bible study

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Jan Cox

Jan, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. She has published two devotionals and a number articles for magazines and a Bible study. She is owner of Under the Cover of Prayer and moderates the site. She also writes at A Better Way. Jan has written a children’s book in which she is also the watercolour illustrator. She hopes to publish it this year.

HE HOLDS THE WHEEL

He Holds the Wheel

by Jan Cox

I almost died – or could have.

As I headed north into rural Ontario, I thought about how wonderful the weekend had been at my daughter’s – lots of fun with my two grandchildren; crawling on the floor with them; singing songs; reading bedtime stories and having meals together. What a blessing!

It was time to head north, back to my husband whom I had neglected for a few days.

Anxious to get home in good time I wondered if I could take a shorter route. I stopped in at the gas station to fill up and ask if they had heard any complaints about the shorter northern route. The attendant assured me that he had heard of no problems.

By this time the snow on the road had started to melt and felt slushy under my tires.

Thanking the man for the gas and advice I decided to take the northern winding route.

I pray a lot in the car. I sing praise music. I sometimes speak in the Spirit.

This day was no exception. I started up the winding road. As I drove along I sang and prayed. Gradually I could feel the slush on the road begin to get crunchy under the tires. I slowed down. I saw the temperature gauge dip below freezing. This didn’t look good.

The Glamorgan Road is narrow with many curves and hills. But today I felt confident. Too confident. As I turned a bend in the road I saw that not only did it dip sharply, it curved to the left. I touched the brakes. (Bad idea!)

I felt the icy crunchy slush hit my tires on the left. My car veered all the way into the left lane going down that hill.

Suddenly I felt the wheel turn back to the right lane and straighten up. I don’t remember making that maneuver at all. In the split second for me to realize that I had been in trouble I found myself back in the right lane heading down the hill. No traffic approached either.

Praising God and slowing down I realized that He had taken over the wheel. He had landed me back in the right lane.

I had no fear. I knew He was there. I did tell myself to take more care as I continued the drive back home wrapped in His love, protection and peace.

Prayer:

Thank You, Lord for being there with me. Thank You for watching over me and taking the wheel – I like it when You are in control. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

My Gratitude List for this week:

  • the faith of a farmer – God is enough
  • revealed Scripture – 2 Timothy 2:7
  • answered prayers in my Bible Study
  • laughter for no reason
  • grandson sitting on hubby’s lap watching boat races
  • daughter stayed in the dragon boat when it was broadsided (she was the drummer)
  • lovely walk to the races and back
  • energy to clean the house

I hit 200!

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Jan Cox

Jan, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. She has published two devotionals and a number articles for magazines and a Bible study. She is owner of Under the Cover of Prayer and moderates the site. She also writes at A Better Way. Jan has written a children’s book in which she is also the watercolour illustrator. She hopes to publish it this year.

REACHING THAT ANTICIPATED MOMENT – WHEN A PRAYER GETS ANSWERED

Reaching that Anticipated Moment—When a Prayer Gets Answered

By T. L. Wiens

My brother, my sister and I were scheduled to provide special music for the church service that Sunday. I can’t explain it, but there was an excitement as we practiced. We’d decided to sing “Nearer My God to Thee.” It wasn’t very often that we chose hymns but on this occasion it felt like the only song in the world that we could sing.

I remember being nervous. I sing harmony so I’m not center stage or anything. My nerves usually don’t bother me but there was an electricity in the air on this morning.

We hadn’t sung very long when I noticed a man sitting in the back rise. My heart went to my throat—was he leaving? The whole congregation had prayed for this man for many years. I guess in a way, it had become a ritual to pray for him. He had tears streaming down his face as he stumbled to the steps that lead to the stage. He collapsed there and wept. Someone got up and went to him. We kept singing.

Then I heard the hallelujah. When the man we prayed for raised his head, I knew—I had a new brother in the Lord.

Did I ever hope to live to see this moment? No. I want to say my faith didn’t waver and I stayed the course but I didn’t. I’m not sure very many in church that day would be able to make any different claims. I am so thankful that God stayed the course.

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3 KJV).

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Tammy Wiens

Tammy lives in Saskatchewan with her husband. They have four children. She enjoys gardening, walks along the beach and being on the farm. She has a passion for her faith, studying the Bible and prayer.

She has published two books; Where a Little Rain Comes Down and Making the Bitter Sweet. A short story, “Vi’s First Christmas” will appear in Christmas Chaos coming out in October of 2010. Visit her website.

A DIFFERENT PRAYER

A Different Prayer

by Jan Cox

Picture by Godgrown

Read: Luke 11:10 NIV

“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I always thought of this Scripture in the worldly sense. What can God do for me? How can He help me out in this life?

I am sure there will be many times I will pray this way.

Today, as I read Oswald Chambers (June 9th) I learned a new way of interpreting this passage.

What if I were to ask for a deeper spiritual knowledge of God? Maybe I need to knock and knock to seek and know Jesus more?

What is wisdom? Is that God’s wisdom? I want to be wiser in the ways of God.

“The Holy Spirit is the One Who makes real in you all that Jesus did for you.” (Oswald Chambers, June 9th)

That changes my perspective. Does it change yours?

I want to grow close in my relationship to God.

Now I see the need to pray for this.

Prayer:

Father, I ask, I seek and knock for my spirit to be more open to You. I want to know You more. Help me to grow in my relationship with you. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

So I did. I prayed this prayer and prayed for words of wisdom.

“What words of wisdom do You have for me today?” I asked.

Here were the answers: Words of Wisdom

EMOTE – allow myself to feel Him

REST – relax in knowing Who He is

MOVE – walk on knowing He sets the path.

Then He took me to this Scripture. (Really this Scripture popped into my mind and I hadn’t studied it or read it for a long time)

2 Timothy 2:7 NIV

“Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

And to top off that revelation, in the margin of my Bible I had previously written the word “wisdom”.

This is too marvelous for my understanding.

May He continue to build this relationship with me and with you.

My Gratitude List

I have so many I am going to skip some and get up to number 163

  • Time with God
  • Warmer weather
  • Sunshine for yard sale
  • Learning to throw out or give away
  • Ability and joy in giving
  • Planning my children’s program for Poland with International Messengers
  • God in the midst of heartache
  • Peace of Jesus
  • Fun with plan but waiting on God
  • One Thousand Gifts chapter 4 – A Sanctuary of Time, Ann Voskamp
  • Camembert cheese and crackers
  • The NOW = this moment
  • Oswald Chambers May 28 – Revelation
  • 40 years of happy marriage
A favourite song. In the Secret  (I want to know You more!)

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Jan Cox

Jan, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. She has published two devotionals and a number articles for magazines and a Bible study. She is owner of Under the Cover of Prayer and moderates the site. She also writes at A Better Way. Jan has written a children’s book in which she is also the watercolour illustrator. She hopes to publish it this year.

GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE

God of the Impossible

by Violet Nesdoly (reprinted with permission May 31, 2011)

Mary and Elizabeth
by Harold Copping – 1927

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 1:39-56

TO CHEW ON: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent empty away.” Luke 1:51-53 ESV

Wow – could those Bible women pray! Hanna’s prayer of yesterday’s reading, Mary’s of today’s show that these godly women had keen insights about God and His ways.

A thought that occurs in both of these prayers is that the unlikely person will triumph because God comes to his or her aid.

Hannah prays that God will weigh and evaluate the unworthy actions that are masked by proud and arrogant speech. She boasts about Him giving strength to the feeble as He breaks the weaponry of the mighty. He feeds the hungry while those who were always full before end up hiring themselves out for bread. He gives he barren woman a complete family (seven children!) even as the mother of many is forlorn. She speaks of Him making the poor rich, exalting the lowly, raising the poor and needy to sit with princes – 1 Samuel 2:3-8.

Mary thanks God for raising her, a humble woman, to a position where all people will call her blessed. She boasts about God frustrating those with proud thoughts, bringing down the mighty from their thrones, sending the rich away empty while filling the hungry with good things – Luke 1:51-53.

These aren’t selfish, vindictive prayers of needy women who want the tables turned for self-serving reasons. Rather, they are prayers of women for whom God has shown Himself strong in amazing ways (Hannah has borne a son after years of barrenness, Mary has recently become pregnant with Jesus — God in the flesh).

They are also pronouncements of faith saying, in effect, if God has done this for me, He can do this in any and every situation.

They are above all, prayers that proclaim trust in God over riches, position, power or natural ability, to change impossible situations.

What is my impossible situation today? What is yours? From personal needs involving ourselves, our families and friends, to big requests for our nation and the world, let’s let the faith of Hannah and Mary inspire us to bring our impossible circumstances to God, who has the power and resources to turn them on their heads.

PRAYER: Dear God, than You for the faith and inspiration of Hannah and Mary, simple women who trusted You to do the impossible. Help me to trust You for my impossible thing (___) today. Amen

MORE: Feast of Visitation

Today the church celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin

The liturgy for this day begins with this collect:

“Father in heaven, by your grace the virgin mother of your incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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Violet Nesdoly

Violet freelances in several genres and has been published in a variety of print and online publications. Her articles, stories, and activities have appeared in Keys for Kids, Devotions for Girls, Devotions for Boys, Clubhouse, Guide, Primary Treasure, Partners, Pockets and others. She has also published two books of poetry and is an avid blogger. She is a member of Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and a professional member of The Word Guild.

DON’T WRITE OFF A POWERFUL PRAYER

Don’t Write Off a Powerful Prayer (reprinted with permission)

By Heather McGillivray

Being somewhat of a snoop, I enjoy getting together with friends and finding out what’s going on in their lives. I also love when I make a new friend and get to sit down and talk with her (really talk) for the first time—which is why I was right in my element last night, tucked away in our little booth at Country Style Donuts while my new friend told me all about the past harrowing half decade of her life.

I don’t enjoy hearing about the hardships of others, but I am inspired whenever I get to be close to someone who happens to wake up in the middle of living her dream–only to discover it has turned into a nightmare from which she does not have the luxury of escaping–and stops every once in a while, through tears, to tell me how God has been good to her.

She could choose to fall apart and let the people who depend on her most down—or she could bear up under the weight of it and keep putting one foot in front of the other. She has chosen the latter, and I am greatly humbled by her example–having been the queen of falling apart all over the place and basically spilling out from between my own seams on many a memorable occasion.

I cannot imagine going through the situations she is facing and still be as intact as she is.

We agreed to pray for each other. Sometimes we’re in a situation too long, too tightly and too deep to pray our way objectively out of it; sometimes praying for someone else’s situation and knowing they are praying for ours is almost as good as a vacation.

But on the way home I couldn’t help thinking to myself—what I really want to do is rewrite the rest of her life.

I want to open a new page in my laptop and start typing turns in the road ahead. I want to write her a reprieve: days without rain and sunshine around every corner. I want to build a white picket fence around her dreams and keep out the big, bad wolf.

Instead, I prayed. And not the mental ascent kind of prayer I sometimes send off when I haven’t taken the time to get acquainted with the situation—the kind of deep pleading and crying out to God that only comes by the power and love of His Holy Spirit, and through the witness of having experienced some of the same kind of pain. I prayed on the way home. I prayed in my favourite prayer place. And I prayed just now while the writing of this brings it back to my heart afresh.

And, while I don’t know how the story will unfold, I do know there is a peace and assurance of faith that comes with leaving the final chapters in the hands of Him who wrote the Book on love.

We don’t get to write others off, so to speak. But we do have a powerful impact on how the rest of their stories will unfold. Our prayers can push back the antagonist; send healing rain and snatch lives back out of the mouth of the destroyer.

Why do I pray so little when I know that this is so?

Our prayers are powerful—they move mountains; they move God.

But most of all they move us.

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with (James 5:16b The Message Bible).

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Heather McGillivray

Heather lives in Chelmsford, Ontario, with her college aged children. She knows they haven’t left yet because she’s still doing their laundry and buying lots of groceries–she just can’t figure out where they’re hiding, or what they’ve done with the van.

The most exciting thing in her life right now, apart from Jesus, is that He’s letting her write her very first novel, and she’s almost done it. She loves poetry, and could get lost for weeks at a time in a good one. What she knows above all else, is that God hears and answers prayer–and for that she is eternally grateful. Visit her at her blog.

FLYING WITH JESUS

Flying with Jesus

by Jan Cox

Recently we took a plane ride back to Canada from our winter home in Arizona. While waiting to board we heard these words:

“Passengers on flight 3677 please be advised that there are high winds in Buffalo. We want to warn you that we will not assure you that your plane will land in Buffalo. As a matter of fact if we have to reroute the plane we will not pay for any personal expenses you might incur. If you wish to change your flight we ask you do so now.”

Now what were we going to do? Our son was to pick us up in Buffalo to drive us to Haliburton, Ontario. Quickly I found my cell phone (which I use only for emergencies) and tried phoning him. Didn’t work. So I texted him (yes I know how to do that!) that “our flitht might be changed due to winds” (yes I misspelled flight).

We took off. Most of the flight was uneventful. Of course, from the time of the announcement  I had prayed for good weather, wisdom for the pilot, and calmness for the passengers.

Except for a couple of times when the air stewardesses were told to take their seats, we had smooth flying. As we approached Buffalo, the pilot came on and told everyone to take their seats including the stewardesses and that our approach was going to be bumpy.

I kept praying, finding perfect peace in each bump. I knew Jesus was in control. I looked around and everyone seemed rather subdued. The approach to Buffalo lasted about 45 minutes. Complete calm came over me.

When we landed with quite a bump, the front of the plane clapped. I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about.

After we exited I said to my husband, “Well that wasn’t too bad, was it?”

My husband looked at me aghast… “What? That was one of the worst landings I have ever been experienced. It was a white knuckle ride.” (And he has flown many more times that I).”

So thank You Lord for keeping me in an unnatural peace through a rough ride. Flying with Jesus kept my spirit in tune with His. I knew He was in control. He kept His promise to keep me calm.

Here is my Gratitude List for this week:

70. A good game of Cribbage (but better when I win?)
71.  A Granddaughter who turned 8
72.  A Granddaughter who turned 4
73.  Bills that can be paid
74.  Being asked over for dinner by friends
75.  Memories of the last few days at the pool
76.  Flying back to Canada

Prayer:

Thank You for our safe flight home to Canada. There may have been bumps but we knew You were with us all the way. Stand with us, guide us and lead us, Jesus. In Your Name, Amen.

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE OF PRAYER?

Where is Your Favourite Place of Prayer?

by Janice Keats

The Apostle Paul’s travel itinerary was quite extensive. He covered many towns and villages as he trained and fellowshipped with the saints of God.

As Paul was making travel plans to Jerusalem, he stopped at points in between and encouraged his fellow believers. But his farewell to the Ephesians was perhaps the most difficult because his time with them was growing shorter and he knew in part, the hardships that were to come in Jerusalem.

This is what he said to them:

“And now compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again” (Acts 20:22&25).

After a few more words of encouragement, Paul knelt with all of them and prayed.

“They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them the most was his statement that they may never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship” (Acts 20:37,38).

Paul tore himself away from them and sailed to Tyre and stayed with the disciples there for seven days. When it was time to leave again all of the disciples and their wives and children accompanied him out of the city, and there on the beach they knelt and prayed. They said their good-byes and parted (Acts 21:5). Many discerned that he was going to be in danger in Jerusalem and urged him not to go.

Imagine a prayer meeting on the beach. Imagine how difficult it must have been to part from the fellowship of believers that Paul had trained, discipled and broke bread with. Imagine sending off your mentor knowing the dangers that lay ahead of him. Paul tore himself away from the family of God, and all the while the people pleaded with him not to go to Jerusalem. Paul responded by saying, Don’t break my heart with your weeping for me, I am willing to die for my Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

Did Paul need to pray? Did Paul need the prayers of the people? Did Paul show any pride as he and the entourage of God’s family knelt in public on the beach? Was Paul effective in teaching the love of God to the various churches? What did they do in time of great need? They were there for him.

Why was there a prayer meeting on the beach? That was Paul’s point of need for protection and strength to carry out the Will of God. It was an informal gathering of the family of God. It was also a turning point of Paul’s life. Prayer was needed at that very moment in time! Knee prints on a beach provided solace to a soldier of God and the family of God!

PRAYER REALLY CHANGES THINGS

Prayer Really Changes Things

by Rev Ed Hird

The story is told of two men, Harry and Stan, who have known each other for some time.  Harry has fallen upon hard times and has come to his old friend asking for some help.

”Why come to me?” Stan asks.  “Why should I help you out?  What have you ever done for me?”

”What have I ever done for you?” Harry gasps.  “Why, don’t you remember when your house burned down several years ago, and you and your family moved in with me?”

”Yes, I remember.  But…”

”And what about the time your child was in danger of drowning and I jumped into the lake to rescue him?”

”Yes, but…”

”And how about the time that you lost your job and I gave you all that money?  Don’t you remember?  I’ve done lots for you through the years!”

”Everything you say is true enough”, Stan says.  “But what have you done for me lately?”

Most of us on the North Shore (British Columbia, Canada) have many things to be grateful for: employment, children, family, food on the table, a roof over our head, the forest, the mountains, the beaches, the sunshine.  All these things are wonderful gifts from God.  Prayer is simply a way of saying “Thank you” for all these wonderful gifts.  It is so easy to grumble and complain.  It takes work to be grateful and thankful for what we have.  When we make the decision to say “thank you”, things begin to change in our lives.  When we make the decision to acknowledge our “Higher Power”, more peace and contentment can enter our personal lives.  Prayer really changes things, but first it changes us!

Dr. Reginald Bibby, the famous Canadian sociologist, has done some very interesting statistical research on the prayer habits and beliefs of Canadians.  He found that 75% of Canadians pray privately at least once in a while, 30% pray daily, and 28% say grace before meals at least once a week.  Close to 50% of Canadians acknowledge the possibility of having experienced God’s presence in their daily lives.  Bibby also notes that more than 40% of the nation’s 15 to 19 year olds believe that they have experienced God.  Clearly prayer is still a meaningful activity for the vast majority of Canadians.  But Canadians, especially the Baby-boomers, are wanting prayer to be much more experiential and informal than in the past.

Even though Canadians are people of prayer, they are also very private about their prayer lives.  Often even their spouses, or their closest friends don’t know about the extent of their prayer lives.  In previous decades, the taboo subjects were sex, death, and politics.  In our “liberated” age, the one topic that people still feel embarrassed to mention in polite conversation is their prayer lives.  Yet studies, referred to in Newsweek, show that spouses who can pray together report greater degrees of marital satisfaction and greater sexual intimacy.  One study showed that while up to 1 in 2 marriages break up, only 1 in 20 marriages break up where both of the couple regularly attend church.  More significantly, the study showed that only 1 in 200 couples break up where both couples go to church regularly and pray together on a regular basis.  It is encouraging to see research confirm the historic belief that “the family that prays together stays together.”  Prayer, it seems, really changes things.

Even medical science is beginning to confirm that prayer really makes a difference in the health and recovery of individuals.  In an experiment at San Francisco General Hospital, reported in the Southern Medical Journal, a researcher asked outsiders to pray for a group of cardiac patients.  Even though the patients weren’t told that prayers were being said for them, the study found that they recovered faster than those in an otherwise identical control group.  Studies by Harvard Cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson showed that patients that prayed were more successful at lowering metabolic rates, slowing the heart rate and reducing other symptoms of stress.  Even science is showing that prayer really changes things.