Because prayer is a work done mostly in secret, it is rare for an intercessor to immediately know whether his prayers are effective. It is rarer still for someone to realize they are being prayed for, since humility constrains us from boasting about our praying!
Yet from time to time, we do hear of amazing answers to prayer, and have the joy of knowing that there is indeed power released when we pray. In the midst of a very difficult week, God allowed both me and my pastor to see the power of prayer. I want to use this story as a "case study" on prayer.
My pastor and I were talking about intercession, since he had experienced a moment in the middle of his day where the Presence of God so overwhelmed him that he knew beyond doubt that someone was praying for him. He told me how much it blessed him to know that others were sustaining him by their prayers! But this was only a precursor to what God would show us.
Later the same week, my son developed a serious complication from type 1 diabetes that required him be hospitalized. He had become increasingly sick all day, could not eat, and was vomiting repeatedly. His blood sugar and ketone numbers were skyrocketing, and I could not bring them down, no matter how much insulin I gave. There was no time for me to pray; at 5pm I was told to rush him to Children’s Hospital in Boston. I hoped he would stay alert until we arrived.
He was so weak he required a wheelchair, so thirsty he was begging for water, and yet he could not stomach even a small amount of water or food. For hours, as the ER team worked, I listened to him beg me for water; the doctors prohibited even ice chips, since it would make him worse. My heart broke for him. He was suffering from a mild form of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and until he was stabilized, he would be hydrated only by an IV drip.
At midnight they moved my son from the ER to an intermediate ICU area on the 11th floor of the hospital. They call it the “Penthouse” room because it has a window overlooking the city rooftops, along with a window seat where parents can rest.
But there was little rest that night. It was 3 am before the doctor informed me he was out of the danger zone, and his room was a flurry of activity all night long.
He finally slept, and I laid down on the window seat: exhausted, emotional, and alone. I stared blindly at the city rooftops, slept fitfully, and tried to pray. I had called several friends earlier to pray, and I knew it was because of their prayers that I had stayed awake and kept my calm throughout the night.
Jesus Does Hospital Visits
At 5AM, something suddenly woke me. I turned to see what the nurses were doing, but there was no one in the room. I quickly went to my son’s bedside, and found him asleep. He was covered in wires: the IV still drip-feeding him insulin, another monitor measuring his pulse and vitals, a wire attached to one tiny finger which glowed red. His stuffed dog "Sparky" cuddled next to him, a faithful fried throughout his ordeal.
I returned to my window seat and looked out at the city of Boston. It was dawn, and the sky was brightening. On any other day, it would have been beautiful. But right then, my body ached and my heart was raw.
Suddenly, I was surrounded by the Presence of God. The atmosphere in the room changed, and I knew without a doubt that Jesus had just come in. It is time to wake up, He said; I will sustain you.
Immediately, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a powerful video I had seen in church the week before. In it, a loving husband runs to the hospital at dawn to meet his paralyzed wife on the rooftop. Pulling her up out of her wheelchair, he holds her and together they take a picture of the sunrise. She is too weak even to push the button on the camera, and his hand covers hers as they snap the photo. He saves every picture they take. It is a beautiful picture of Christ, loving us and compensating for us in all our weaknesses.
The memory of that story broke me. In a flash, my eyes were opened, and I realized that I was literally standing on the top floor of a hospital, overlooking the rooftops, and I felt as helpless and weak as that wife in the video. I could do nothing to heal my son, nor could I summon enough strength within myself to move forward. Yet Jesus had just run to this hospital and embraced me.
As I watched the sunrise, tears streamed down my face. I was awed by His love, His prophetic preparation for what He already knew would happen to us that week, and His powerful Presence that was sustaining me. I still cannot describe the experience without tears!
My son recovered the next day and we returned home, grateful for his healing and for the many prayers of friends, readers, and church leaders that were offered on his behalf. But God had one more surprise in store for me.
At church the next day, I was talking with my pastor again. He had heard my story of God’s visit at 5:00 that morning in the hospital. In fact, he had wanted to visit us himself but was prevented from doing so. He told me that at 4:58 that same morning, God woke him up unexpectedly. “Whom do You want me to pray for?” he asked. “The Perkins Family,” God answered. And he did.
It was at that exact hour that Jesus arrived in our hospital room, healing my son and strengthening me.
How rare that we get to see the synchronized work of God in both the intercessor and the recipients of prayer! What a powerful testimony to the truths of scripture! We are not alone, our prayers are effective. Each time we pray, the life generated in the world of the Spirit touches people in all their frailties and with all their needs.
The irony of intercession is that we want to be as righteous, powerful, and effective in prayer as the scripture in James suggests. But Romans 8:26 reveals that we prayer warriors are just as weak as those whom we pray for! So the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, since we don't know what to pray; we only know that we should.
When we do this, Jesus - who knows the mind of the Spirit, the desires of our hearts, and the will of God - works all three of these factors together to create an answer so good that it blesses everyone involved. He alone is the source of our righteousness, power, and effectiveness in prayer.
Put the Power of God to Work Through Prayer
I encourage you to ask for the Presence of God to intervene and change the situations you see on earth for the better. Share this story with those you know who are persevering in prayer. Determine to ask the Lord each morning, just as my pastor did, "Who needs prayer today?" Then follow through and pray!
We are promised Jesus will respond to our prayers. His answers are unique, meaningful and specific to the ones we pray for, just like the way He spoke to me in that hospital. We are co-laborers with Christ, partners through prayer in the great work of the Gospel. And every once in a while, God lets us see just how effective our prayers can be.
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions.com. To find Scripture promises you can use to pray, start by visiting our "Scripture Promises" pagehere. Build your faith!
Deborah Perkins is the founder of His Inscriptions, a ministry focused on life-giving communication with God. Through her website, inspired teaching and a weekly blog, Deborah offers discipleship to those who want to grow their relationship with God. A ministry leader for over 25 years, Deborah is an experienced prophetic counselor, marriage mentor, and prayer warrior. She's also fond of her hubby, 3 sons, and dark chocolate - in that order! Follow her for daily updates on Twitter and Facebook.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.