On a sunny Indian summer morning, my pastor and I were nursing coffees at an outdoor table at the local café and talking about ultimate things. One of the regulars was having a problem with his wheelchair, so we stopped our conversation to go over and look helpful, though it soon became awkwardly obvious that we were both useless with technology. We basically stood around with limp hands and making sympathetic grunts while the man fiddled with wires.
My pastor then said the words I was thinking: "We could pray." But it sounded rather tentative, and when I didn't pick up on it, the suggestion fell by the wayside. I feel pretty certain that the Rev and I were thinking the same thing: "Wouldn't it be cool if we prayed right now and God did a miracle on that chair? Then the man would come to faith (and it wouldn't hurt our faith either), and God would receive glory. Should we, or shouldn't we?
"But what if we pray and the wheelchair remains inert? Then we will look foolish, and God will not be glorified. And does God even want us to pray for things like that? Think! Think, man! What is our theology on this?" There was a palpable feeling that everything we believed about God, about life, about ultimate meaning, was bearing down on this concrete situation on the sidewalk on a sunny Indian summer morning at the Keswick café.
A few minutes later, I screwed up my wimpy courage and said the pastor had had a good idea and we should pray. The three of us bowed our heads and asked God to make the dead machine rise. That done, the pastor and I took our seats and resumed our conversation. A minute or two later, the chair began to whir, and its owner, not a churchman, said, "See, prayer works!" He looked up to heaven, thanked it, and zigzagged down the sidewalk out of sight.
I don't know what the moral of this story is. A maker of fine oak rocking chairs in western Pennsylvania is very bold and outgoing with his faith. He is the artist I met at the Sugarloaf Art Show who, when I asked if he had had a career change after college, took control of the conversation and replied, "I would rather answer you this way: The Lord Jesus Christ gave me the design for this chair."
I have told you about Gerry Grant in another post. What I didn't mention is that people have been made whole when he has prayed for them. I had asked Mr. Grant if everyone he prays for gets healed. He replied, "No, but a lot more than if I hadn't prayed!" Touché. Then I asked him if he ever worries that he will be embarrassed if he prays and the person isn't healed. He said that his worry is not for his own faith but the faith of the other person. I remember thinking to myself at the time: "Wow, I wish I had a faith like that."
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