My Thoughts On Prayer
By John Carroll
Thinking about prayer… Where to begin? How do we do the subject justice? We can’t really do it justice – we have to just do it.
I teach and preach on prayer as often as I teach anything. It is a consistent theme with me. But I really think you learn more about prayer by praying one hour than by receiving hours of the best and most revelator instruction on prayer.
I was blessed to be born to a mother who loved this precious truth. As children, she and her sister were won to God in a little country church back in the Ozark Hills in the 1950’s.
That little church sat beside a dirt road across from a local bootlegger’s house, twenty miles from a blacktop road. In warm weather when the wind was out of the south and the windows of the church were open, you could smell the sour mash cooking up the `holler’ But the Lord was there.
By the time I came along, my family attended an AMF church. Our closes fellowship was with the old West Tulsa Apostolic Church, pastored by “Pop” Williams. That church was blessed with many consecrated praying, fasting saints. The power of God was indescribable. At an early age, I received an appreciation for the value of prayer.
I remember an old sister by the name of Pearl Garrison. She was in her 90’s, but was always faithful to the house of God. I hear her pray many times, “Oh God, my boys are lost and I will be coming home soon…who’s going to pray for my boys?”
As a nine-year-old child, I was so touched by this prayer that I made a commitment to carry on her prayers for her. I never told her but to this day I pray for the descendants of Sister Garrison because she impacted me wig her life and consecration. I can still hear her quavering old voice, cracked with age but resonating with the power of God, as shy would pray between the pews two rows ahead of me. I learned early that prayer is what you do when your back is against the wall.
I was still a young boy when there came season of awful church trouble. Many people backslid as a result… some never recovered. When things became unbearable, I remember my mama, my aunt, and my granny gathered with all us kids at granny’s house one evening. They locked the door and pulled the shades and told us we were going to pray until we got direction from God.
The hours stretched long, but I will never forget when the victory came and the glory of God filled that living room. Every person in that room, right down to the babies, survived that storm and went on to live for God. That was a landmark for me.
When I was a teenager, struggling with surrendering to the call of God, I had an altar that was mine alone. Across the road from my house there was a trail through the woods that was worn by me making my way day after day to an old fallen tree with a fork that was just right for me to drape myself across. I wore the bark slick there, and stained it with many tears. I believe some of what I learned there at that old log has sustained me since.
Once when I was sixteen, a missionary came to our church and made a deep impression on me. He gave me a Bible marker with a picture of him and his wife on it. I began praying for them daily and marking a tiny tally mark every time I prayed. Eventually the thing was covered with hundreds of marks. It was quite an experience years later to host that same couple for a missions service and show them the little marker they had given me years earlier.
I wish I could say that I am perfect and disciplined and consistent in prayer always, but I cannot. There have been seasons in my life when I have struggled. My record is not without blemish. But I really think I would rather excel as a prayer than as a preacher. One requires a certain gifting and ability – the other, simple willingness.
This article “My Thoughts On Prayer” written by John Carroll is excerpted from Apostolic Accent a 2007 March edition.