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A family member faces a deadly disease. Your neighbor desperately needs Jesus, but turns away every time you try to share Christ. A nation begins to crumble because its people follow their own evil ways. But what can you do?Often, the problems we face seem too big for us. No matter how much we try, we cannot solve them on our own. It’s times like these when we need to turn to the Lord in intercessory prayer. [1]

A normal day around here begins with prayer, then coffee while reading email and checking the ‘net to see what is happening in the world.  Today, two things stood out; (1) a blog post that arrived in my email from a writer who normally blogs about gun rights, but as a resident of South Florida he has addressed issues more pressing at the moment.  With Hurricane Irma expected to reach Florida in three days to stay or to evacuate is the question facing millions who are potentially in harms way.  In the case of the blogger I am referring to, he and his family have made the decision to stay.  Miguel at the gun Free Zone writes:

Even if you only attempted to evacuate one fifth of the South Florida population, you simply cannot squeeze one million people in three major highways without making it a mess. And only one direction: North. [2]

To illustrate his point he included a screen shot of a post from Twitter showing North bound traffic at a standstill in Interstate 75.  Miguel also made the comment that it might be best to be stranded in the storm at home versus in your car out on some Interstate stuck in traffic.

In a related post on his blog, he wrote;

 I saw a report from the National Hurricane Center about Irma passing near Puerto Rico and it caught my attention:Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles (85 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km). A sustained wind of 55 mph (89 km/h) with a gust to 70 mph (113 km/h) was recently reported at an NOS observing site in San Juan Bay, Puerto Rico.I did a bit of math and by the time of the report, the coast of PR was 50 miles from the center of the eye and they were not even clocking a sustained wind close to  a Cat 1 (74-95 mph) and if the streaming of the local radio stations mean anything, the damage was not as brutal as expected. At 1:51 am they were reporting power losses covering 1 million people. Talk shows were getting calls so it was not all the End of the World.
I am not gonna deny it, I am scared some. I am placing my faith on a forecast of Category 4 and having the eye over water.[3]

When you follow one of these folks–who blog on a daily basis–for months or even years, you can not help but feel a certain degree of familiarity, an Internet based friendship if you will.  Therefore until this danger has passed Miguel, his family and all those who did not evacuate from South Florida–and those who did–will have special intentions in our prayers.

After reading the aforementioned blog posts regarding Irma and how the eye appears to have missed Puerto Rico lessening the damage, I was immediately drawn to a post on my Facebook page which included a link to a blog post from 2013 [4] which asked; “Is Calming Tornadoes a Christian Ministry?”  The Author makes the following argument in defense of his position;

The recent tornado that devastated the town of Moore, Oklahoma has again brought to fore the perennial question of natural disasters and how to understand them theologically. Much has been focused on God’s responsibility, or not, in such events, and the general problem of evil. What role does sin have, if any, in precipitating natural disasters? None of these are easy questions to answer.
Let me suggest the focus of the argument is misplaced. What is lacking in the church is an understanding of its authority in Christ to command storms to abate, just as Jesus did in the sea of Galilee (Matt. 8:23-28). We should immediately recall that in the Gospel of John Jesus assured his disciples that we can do all that he did (John. 14:12 ).
However, for most Christians, even Renewalist Christians who believe in the active gifts of the Spirit, stopping a raging storm like the one that destroyed Moore seems beyond the possible. This is so principally because Christians are just now awakening from the long “cessationsit slumber” in which Protestant Christians were taught that miracles of healing/exorcism, and nature miracles were limited to the Apostolic Age. It took wave after wave of pioneers and prophets (often maligned as heretics) to firmly reestablish the healing/exorcism ministry as a legitimate ministry.

Simply put what the author is suggesting is the value of Intercessory Prayer; one explanation of such is the following;

A family member faces a deadly disease. Your neighbor desperately needs Jesus, but turns away every time you try to share Christ. A nation begins to crumble because its people follow their own evil ways. But what can you do? Often, the problems we face seem too big for us. No matter how much we try, we cannot solve them on our own. It’s times like these when we need to turn to the Lord in intercessory prayer. Intercession is prayer that pleads with God for your needs and the needs of others. But it is also much more than that. Intercession involves taking hold of God’s will and refusing to let go until His will comes to pass. Intercession is warfare — the key to God’s battle plan for our lives. But the battleground is not of this earth. The Bible says, “We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and spiritual powers in the heavens above” (Eph. 6:12).[5]

While these two articles seem different; one being about prayer as a means of healing physical and spiritual ailments and the other being about intercessory prayer as a means of diverting the path of a storm so that death and destruction to our Brothers and Sisters is minimized.  One statement that struck me in the definition of Intercessory Prayer was this, “…taking hold of God’s will and refusing to let go until His will comes to pass.”  Recognizing God’s will is sometimes thought of as understanding, observing, being cognizant of the Holy Spirit and allowing that force to work through you to bring about positive change.  Unfortunately many people are reluctant to talk about changes that have occurred after Intercessory Prayer.

I believe such nature miracles are more common than most Christians imagine. The problem is that Christian are shy about these things. Long ago St Augustine of Hippo (354-430), one of the pillars of Western theology, has a similar problem. He reported that for most of his Christian life he had not believed in the healing ministry of the Church. One of the principal reasons for this was that while Christians like to cite the Gospel healing and exorcism miracles they were reluctant to witness about their own experiences in healing prayer. After he witnessed a healing miracle and became convinced of it authenticity he became active in the healing ministry and encouraged his congregation to witness to any miraculous healings they experienced. [4]

The late Johnny Carson, log time host of The Tonight Show frequently made jokes about those who reported Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) or who claimed to have had “Close Encounters” with those beings not of this world.  While the casual viewer of his television antics would logically conclude Carson was a skeptic of these outlandish events, some say that privately Johnny was a believer of the phenomena and wanted nothing more that to see such an event; however he kept his desires secret so as to avoid public ridicule.  Nonetheless they say that whenever there was a rash of so called UFO sightings he would take time off from his show and travel to these places on the hopes he could witness such an event.  While this observation about Carson and his desire to see UFOs seems unrelated to this missive, I offer it as an analogy of how people often want to believe in the Holy Spirit and God’s mysteries, but they suffer from “cessationsit slumber” in which Protestant Christians were taught that miracles of healing/exorcism, and nature miracles were limited to the Apostolic Age.

Perhaps it is time we start to open our eyes and recognize the power of the “Gifts Of The Spirit” , take time to pray for those in the path of danger–especially if doing something seemingly more concrete is impossible for us–and be open minded if an actual storm or a metaphorical storm changes course and the damage is minimized.  If you see a miracle do not be afraid to beleive.

 

 

[1]http://www1.cbn.com/questions/what-is-intercessory-prayer

[2]http://gunfreezone.net/index.php/2017/09/07/florida-evacuation/

[3]http://gunfreezone.net/index.php/2017/09/07/irma-we-are-staying/

[4]http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.com/2013/06/is-calming-tornados-christian-ministry.html

[5]http://www1.cbn.com/questions/what-is-intercessory-prayer