Does prayer matter? That is a serious question to ask ourselves, especially when we are praying for the health and wellbeing of others. In the 1980’s a small Hungarian church in Romania received a new pastor; his name was Laszlo Tasks. The previous pastor of the church conformed to the Communists demands for the practice of Christianity and as a result he faced no opposition, but the church withered on the vine. Tasks, however, was different and took his calling to be the voice, hands and feet of God seriously. He spoke out against the injustices that he saw around him and bemoaned the lack of spiritual direction in the community. Soon the church grew from forty members to five thousand who crowded in each week to hear the message of hope, love, and prayer that rang from the pulpit. The Communists were not long in closing in and sent their agents to arrest him. When they arrived they found a ring of Christians surrounding the home. They stood there day and night singing and praying until the state acted, and breaking through their lines they arrested Tasks.
So it would seem obvious from the story that God raised up a man to bring revival to the church. Tasks was a man who without fear stood for justice and spoke out against the injustices that swirled around the corrupt leaders and their hold on Romania. When the Romanian government came to arrest him, people prayed for his deliverance, but he was arrested anyway. Our conclusion could be, prayer changes nothing if our story ended there.
As the authorities drove through the streets with their prisoner, people started pouring out onto the streets in protest. By the time the protesters arrived at the police station where the authorities had taken Tasks, they numbered over two hundred thousand people. Even when the Romanian government sent in soldiers and began shooting the protestors, they held their ground. As the protest teetered on the brink of breaking out into a full-scale riot a local pastor stood and addressed the crowd. He simply said, “let us pray,” and that surging protest turned from a mob controlled by anger, revenge and years of frustration at the injustices of the government into a prayer meeting. These ordinary men and women engaged in the greatest form of civil disobedience they could; they prayed for God’s intervention. The protest quickly spread throughout Romania and when the people of Bucharest took to the streets, the hard line sadistic rule of the Communists regime came tumbling down.
Prayer leads us to find solutions to the problem. James reminds the Christian community, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2: 15-17 James isn’t saying that you are saved by actions, but instead is telling the people that real faith leads to compassion and love for others. Christianity isn’t some selfish inward emotion that separates us from the pain and suffering of the world around us. Telling a man that he shouldn’t have gone into deep water is of no value to a man who is drowning. He needs a literal lifeline, something to hold onto that can haul him to safety.
Prayer leads us to seek God’s will and direction about situations in our life and regarding the world community. Prayer gives us courage to stand up like Laszlo Tasks and speak with boldness against the evils of our society. Prayer leads us to community service, and to find the practical solutions to impossible situations. Was it really possible that a little known pastor who was motivated to stand his ground against a tyrant could actually be the catalyst for restoring freedom to a devastated country? Prayer changes everything, because we tie into the earth changing power of God. And when we have prayed, God will often say to us, now here is what I want you to do.
Words are cheap but actions are costly. My mother prayed for me and my siblings and never gave up trusting in God to work a miracle in our lives. My mother also lived a Christian life and influenced us through her never-ending love and concern for us. Her prayers were manifested in her actions, and love towards us. We saw her prayers through her every single day. I never knew a person to say a bad word about her, because she never had a bad word to say about anyone. Her prayers led her to live a life close to God and that life, powered by prayer, made all the difference in our lives. You are reading this blog today, because of my mother’s prayers, and if you are motivated to be the hands and feet of Jesus in your world from something you’ve read on this blog, then you also are the recipient of her prayer.
Yes, prayer is real and changes things, because it changes us and through the power of the Holy Spirit sends us into the world with an open heart and a helping hand.