I learned the value of prayer at a very early age. My parents would gather the family together every day for our family worship. My father would read scripture to us and then we would pray.? It was not uncommon to hear my father in his study or my mother in their bedroom interceding for others. Being raised in this kind of environment I witnessed many miraculous answers to prayer that had a profound impact on my life.
One of those profound moments happened when I was in junior high school. It took place on one of those beautiful New York Sunday mornings. Rev. Carl Waggoner was home on furlough from Kenya, Africa where he served as field director of the WGM work. Although I do not remember his sermon I was deeply impacted by an event that took place after the service.
In the providence of God I was standing near the door of the church as people were shaking Carls hand and filing out of the church. It was at this moment that Mrs. Coyle stepped up to greet him. The Coyles were probably the wealthiest family in the church. Mr. Coyle was an executive with IBM and Mrs. Coyle owned and operated the finest childrens clothing store in the area. She had a great passion for missions and she kept Carl David Waggoner well dressed when he was a young man. They also gave generously to the church and to a number of other missionaries.
When Mr. Coyle greeted Carl I heard her tell him that on a certain date she had such a burden for him that she closed her store in the middle of the day and sent everyone home. She then went into her office and spent several hours interceding for him and the ministry in Kenya. After several hours of prayer she felt the burden lift and was confident that whatever the crises was God had heard and answered prayer. I watched closely as Rev. Waggoner flipped through the pages of his date book and came to the date when Mrs. Coyle had been so burdened for him. It was a few moments before Carl could speak. It was obvious he was deeply moved. As the tears rolled down across his cheeks he said, Oh, thank you for praying. He said on that day he was presiding over the Africa Gospel Church annual conference and a small group of influential pastors were trying to pass legislation that would approve the church going back to its tribal custom of allowing more that one wife. Rev. Waggoner said the debate went on for hours and he felt they were about to lose the entire denomination.? It was at this point that old Johanna, one of the most respected leaders in the church stood and spoke to the issue with a great anointing. The tide turned and the Church was saved with only a few pastors leaving. It was at this time that Mrs. Coyle was interceding for him not knowing anything about the crises. This was one of those profound moments in my life that taught me the value and power of prayer.
It is interesting to me that some in our church didn't think Mrs. Coyle was very spiritual because she was rather fashionable in her dress and appearance. But when the Lord needed an intercessor He moved on her heart. She was close enough to God to hear His voice and committed enough to close her store in the middle of the day so she could pray.
There is much I do not understand about prayer but I believe in it and practice it. I trust that you are close enough to the Lord to hear His voice and committed enough to be an intercessor. We serve a God who hears and answers prayer. There is a desperate need for faithful intercessors.
(The Waggoners missionary career spanned 40 years.)