Lord, I ask that you would close that place. Put it out of business, Lord.
I prayed that prayer nearly every day for seven years. My wife reminded me about that the other day because the Lord had answered my prayer. I hadn’t realized it had finally happened.
The Dirty Sock
The Silk Stocking was a strip club down the road from our house in College Station, Texas. In fact, as far as I know, it was the only strip club in town. I had to pass it every time I went pretty much anywhere, so I made a habit of praying for its closure every time I saw it.
I had actually started praying that it would close back when I was a college student and some of my classmates lovingly referred to it as “The Dirty Sock.” I prayed that it would close and that none of the people I knew would ever go there.
After seven years of praying almost every day and another decade of praying anytime I thought of it or saw it, it finally closed.
Why Prayer Works
Prayer works. It just does. It does not work because of some etherial forces. It does not work because it makes us feel better. It does not work because we become more aware of the need for change within us. It does not work because our minds are cleared from wrong thinking.
Prayer works because there is a real God who really hears our prayers. Some of those other things may be good by-products of prayer, but they make prayer a waste of time if that is what you expect. Prayer should only ever be thought of as communication with a loving God who actually hears and desires to respond.
In 1999, when Planned Parenthood decided to expand their clinic in Bryan, Texas to include abortion services, the churches in Bryan and College Station banded together and started an organization called the Coalition for Life. Their main goal was to pray for the closure of the Planned Parenthood in Bryan.
The organization grew to do more than that, but it never lost its focus. It prayed. We prayed. The city prayed. Groups would almost constantly be in front of the building praying for the women inside and for the clinic to close. In August of 2013 the clinic closed, but not until after it made some national headlines a few years before.
Abby Johnson (http://www.abbyjohnson.org) was the clinic director and had been asked to assist in an abortion for the first time in her career. After seeing a little baby die live on the ultrasound monitor, her world changed. She went from being one of Planned Parenthood’s most outspoken and prized clinic directors to one of the nation’s most firebrand pro-life advocates. After the procedure, she walked across the street into the offices of the Coalition for Life and asked what she could do next. They were shocked, to say the least.
Even the clinic building is now owned by some of the pro-life doctors who supported Coalition for Life, Haywood and Noreen Johnson. Check out their website, http://brazosmedical.com.
The answers to our prayers don’t always look that dramatic, but when we do not give up, our prayers will always be answered.
Faith Defined: Keep Praying
The power of fervent, consistent prayers over years are amazing. Praying for the same thing for a long time is hard, but that is actually how God ordained prayer to work.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I donʼt fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she wonʼt eventually come and attack me!’ ”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
I don’t know why God made it to where we have to pray consistently over time, sometimes years, but He did. That’s just how it works, and He’s the one who gets to decide how it works.
But it works.
It really changes things, because we have a loving God who really hears and He really acts on our behalf, and on behalf of our faith. He defines faith not in what we ask, but in whether or not we will continue to ask.
The Better Solution
The most amazing thing about how God works is that He is way better at accomplishing what we ask for than we would be if we just tried to do it ourselves.
When we get belligerent and militant about not getting our way, we do more harm than good. We turn people off or lock their heart in opposition. When abortion doctors are murdered, it only emboldens abortion advocates. When “Christians” remind strippers of how terrible they are, or how women walking into an abortion clinic are going to hell, it only hardens peoples’ hearts.
But when we pray, and ask God to change things that seem too far above our pay grade, He gives us a clinic director who knows how to offer people working in clinics who want out a way out. When we ask for God to close a strip club, He does it and then provides a church in town that goes out of their way to reach out to every stripper and help them find new work to provide for themselves and their families (that happened for the strippers of Silk Stocking, by the way).
The 7:14 Prayer
The Lord spoke to me about the dire situation America was in back in 2003. I wrote a book titled The Year of the Lord’s Favor based on that encounter, and out of that book I started a prayer movement to encourage people to pray with me.
Now I pray twice a day, at 7:14 am and 7:14 pm, a prayer based on 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“Lord, have mercy on America and Your church for our wickedness. Give us humility and raise up a praying church to seek Your face. Forgive us and heal our land, Lord.”
I pray this twice a day because I know the power of consistent, fervent prayer over years. I have seen it work, and I know why it works. The God who hears our prayers is way better at answering them than we are at making what we want happen by ourselves.
I encourage you to join with me in praying for America. Go to 714Prayer.org and join the movement to pray twice a day with us.
Or maybe you have something bigger than yourself you want to see changed? Lost children, hurting family and friends, or injustice in your city? Begin praying, and set your mind to pray until God answers, even if the answer comes beyond your years.
Because prayer works.
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“Father, shake the foundation of this clinic and the workers within it. Shut down the funding stream from this center of infanticide. Strengthen the resolve of those in this community who would stand up to defend the defenseless and needy.” my impossible prayers from the sidewalk, May, 2010.
I love it, Jim. It’s a fun story because so many people got to be a part of it. I love it when the Lord includes us!