Archive for the ‘Bob Woodruff’ Tag

Do Our Prayers Really Matter?

On the ABC news program “Primetime:  Beyond Belief,” reporter Bob Woodruff discussed what happens after death by sharing his own near-death experience and interviewing others who had died and come back to life .  One of those interviewed was Don Piper, a Baptist minister who died during a car/truck crash in Texas in 1989.  After being declared dead for 90 minutes by paramedics, Piper came back to life and later wrote about what he saw in the bestselling book, “90 Minutes in Heaven” (http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/beyondbelief/describing-heaven-pastor-don-piper-pronounced-dead/story?id=14214140).

While what Piper reported he saw in heaven is inspiring, I’m more interested in the way he came back to life.  Dick Onarecker and his wife were driving by the wreckage when he felt the urgent need to pray for whoever was in the car.  He and his wife stopped, began praying, then started singing the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”  Soon a voice from the wreckage, that of Don Piper, began singing along with them.

Did the prayers of the Onareckers change God’s mind?  Or had God decided that Don Piper would live, and simply allowed a passerby and his wife to participate with him in raising the dead?  Why didn’t God do the same for Dick Onarecker, rather than letting him die in 1996 at a relatively young age of 52?

To understand better our part in prayer, let’s consider the Canaanite woman who had a demon-possessed daughter in Matthew 15:

             Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment (Matt 15:21-28 NIV).

What can we learn from these two examples where people prayed in what seemed to be hopeless situations?  First, we have to be willing to try.  It would have been easy for Dick Onarecker to look at the terrible wreckage and decide that no one could survive.    It would have been understandable for the Canaanite woman to give up since it was unlikely that she had ever seen anyone healed of a demon-possession.  Yet these people were willing to pray and ask for help despite the overwhelming circumstances they saw.

Next, healing power does not come from us and is not dependent on our personal righteousness or faith.    The power to heal comes from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who move as they lovingly see fit for each situation.  The Triune God chooses to work incarnationally through the requests of regular human beings just like us.

Lastly, we have to accept that the situation we pray about may or may not be resolved in the way we think is best.  As parents, we understand that even though our children ask us for many things, sometimes what they want would not be in their best interests.  The perspective the Triune God has over our lives is infinitely bigger and better than ours is, so we need to understand that sometimes our prayers will not be answered with a “yes.” Yet the possibility of a “no” should not hinder our willingness to ask.

The examples of Dick Onarecker and the Canaanite mother can inspire us to step out boldly in prayer, knowing that our loving God is always listening.

~by Nan Kuhlman

~photos courtesy of ABC News.com;

Baker Publishing Group; Don Piper

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