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By Randall A. Bach

One of my favorite Christian films features Dr. Tony Campolo building on a sermon theme by the late pastor S.M. Lockridge: “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming.”

Campolo tells the story of a mother who brought her young son who was handicapped to a meeting and asked Tony to pray for him. Tony prayed a typical “safe” prayer, asking God to touch the boy. As Tony put it, “Nothing happened,” and the woman departed with her still handicapped son.

A considerable time later Tony was speaking at a church when a woman approached him, introducing her son. Tony did not recognize the son as the one for whom he had prayed because the son was no longer handicapped. When Tony learned the identities of the woman and her son, he stood looking at the son in amazement before blurting out, “What happened!?”

“We prayed!” the woman responded in understated simplicity.

This was a most delightful moment in Tony’s account. He had embarrassed himself by having dismissed the power of prayer to the point of having forgotten the incident entirely only to face a walking miracle, the very person for whom he had prayed.

Tony’s story reminds me of Peter, who witnessed Jesus perform the miracle of filling the fishing nets to the breaking point when previously there had appeared to be no fish in the vicinity. After Peter’s crew made their way to the shore with what must have been a considerable pile of fish flip-flopping on the sand, he was undone as evidenced by the following passage: “When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, ‘Oh, Lord, please leave me – I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.’ For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him” (Luke 5:8-9, NLT). Like Tony Campolo, Peter was embarrassed, describing himself as a sinner because of his lack of faith. Have you been there, knowing what you believe but failing to exercise faith to activate what you believe?

Those of us who know missionary Ron Wilson admiringly refer to him as a bionic man with more lives than a cat. His capacity to bounce back from major physical maladies and reversals is awe-inspiring. Nonetheless, during his most recent excursion to India, the land and people he loves so deeply, it appeared as if Ron had run out of lives. Conventional wisdom and medical diagnosis indicated Ron’s time had come. He had served well and was now going to migrate to his eternal home in heaven. But just like the mother with the handicapped son who came in simple faith, a group of Indian Open Bible brothers and sisters resolved that they were going to pray Ron through to recovery. They were tenacious in prayer. Ron’s recovery defied normal explanations.

Tony Campolo is representative of many Western Christians; he prayed a prayer of resignation with little faith, not daring to be bold in request, and expected his prayer to be without effect. I can’t explain the role of faith in how and when God answers prayer. Tony had negligible faith and yet the Lord healed the boy. But I do know that Hebrews 11:6 declares it is impossible to please God without faith. I want to please God with my faith. How about you? Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) proclaims, “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Faith and boldness; it is time that our prayers are described like that. It is not in our power but through the authority of Jesus that we pray. Miracles happen. Remember that the next time you see Ron Wilson.

About The Author

Randall Bach
President of Open Bible Churches

Randall Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry for over 46 years and call it “Our adventure together.” Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches.