I recall a story that a vicar friend once told me of the day that he answered the door to find a “gentleman-of-the road” standing on his doorstep.
The man had travelled from Derbyshire and was looking for somewhere to stay overnight.Sadly, the nearest place was in Nottingham, about 15 miles away, which was another day’s walk, so as usual in such situations, he made him a cup of tea and a plate of cheese sandwiches. ust before he went on his way, my friend offered to say a prayer for him. The gentleman quickly declined, saying, “No thanks, I don’t want to change. I’m happy as I am”. This was a rather unexpected reply.
In my own experience, the reason most people give for declining prayer is that they are either non-Christian or an atheist.What the gentleman-of-the road said really ought to be a lesson to all those who proclaim to be Christians, because he acknowledged in just a handful of words how powerful prayer can be.The thing that we can learn from the gentleman is that even though he wasn’t a Christian, he still believed in the power of prayer and the authority of God. He didn’t pray because it was expected of him. He didn’t pray to satisfy the desires of someone who had just fed him.
He didn’t pray because he knew that the power of prayer is limitless. He declined because he knew that his life would be changed as a consequence of prayer.In the Bible, we’re told of a Centurion, one of the hated enemies of the people of Israel, who has a very sick servant.Although he wasn’t a Christian he knew that all Jesus had to do was speak the word and the servant would be healed. I wonder how many people have the same faith in the power of prayer that the Centurion and the gentleman-of-the road had. Both knew that prayer would change things for them, one accepted and the other rejected the opportunity for change in their life.
So, perhaps in the light of the Centurion and the gentleman-of-the road, the question for us is, do we have faith in the power of prayer, and do we really want to accept the changes that answered prayer gives?