Most Christians are familiar with Hebrews 11, a chapter R.C. Sproul titles "The Roll Call of Faith." Hebrews 11 is both challenging to the Christian and a source of encouragement. It challenges us when we compare our lives with those of the saints of old, and yet God also graciously uses their example to encourage us to continue to pursue the life of faith.
I was reading R.C. Sproul's Does Prayer Change Things? recently. In his chapter on the power of prayer Sproul compiles a list of the heroes of prayer in the format of Hebrews 11.
- By prayer, Esau's heart was changed toward Jacob, so that they met in a friendly, rather than hostile, manner (Gen. 32).
- By the prayer of Moses, God brought the plagues upon Egypt and then removed them again (Ex. 7–11).
- By prayer, Joshua made the sun stand still (Josh. 10).
- By prayer, when Samson was ready to perish with thirst, God brought water out of a hollow place for his sustenance (Judg. 15).
- By prayer, the strength of Samson was restored. He pulled down the temple of Dagon on the Philistines, so that those whom he killed as he died were more than all he had killed in his life (Judg. 16).
- By prayer, Elijah held back the rains for three and a half years. Then by prayer, he caused it to rain again (1 Kings 17–18).
- By the prayer of Hezekiah, God sent an angel and killed in one night 185,000 men in Sennacherib's army (2 Kings 19).
- By the prayer of Asa, God confounded the army of Zerah (2 Chron. 14).
Time would fail me to tell of Abraham, who prayed for and received a son at the age of one hundred years; and Moses, who received help at the Red Sea; and the Israelites, who were delivered from Egypt after much prayer; and David, who escaped the treachery of Saul by prayer; and Solomon, who received great wisdom as the result of prayer; and Daniel, who was able to interpret dreams after prayer. People were delivered from peril, healed from diseases, saw loved ones cured, and witnessed innumerable miracles as the result of fervent prayer.
James, if anything, was understating the case when he wrote that the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much (5:16).
Like Hebrews 11, reading R.C. Sproul's scriptural list of the heroes of prayer is both challenging and a source of encouragement. I am challenged as I consider the lack of fervency in my prayer life. However, I find God graciously encouraging me to grow in my prayer life as I'm reminded afresh that prayer is powerful.
Will you pray today?