So, I'm reading The Cross and the Switchblade. Because we're visiting David Wilkerson's church on Sunday. [Also, we're going to see "Our Town" which I am way stoked about.] [Also, this is my first trip to NYC. Bring the noise.] [Also, there will be falafel involved. Hast yaow.] [I just had to throw all that out there, because I am way excited.] I'm really enjoying it, partly because it's about the gang youth scene in Brooklyn, and partly because reading real people's stories about the amazing things God's done just never gets old. I enjoy being inspired. Anyway.
There's this story he tells in the fifth chapter, about his the things he learned from his grandfather, and how his father suffered from duodenal ulcers. David was twelve years old, and his father was vomiting blood, and the doctor predicted two hours left to live. He writes, "At that moment I remembered Grandfather's promise, 'The day you learn to be publicly specific in your prayers is the day you will discover power.' For a moment I thought of walking in to where the men sat in the living room and the announcing that I was praying for my father to get up from his bed a healed man. I couldn't do it. Even in that extremity I could not put my faith out where it might get knocked down."
So instead he goes in the basement, and prays fervently out loud, not realizing his prayer is broadcasting through the house's ventilation pipes for everyone to hear. His father, hearing the prayer, called him upstairs, and they read Matthew 21:22 over and over -- "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." He mustered the courage and prayed over his father, calling in the doctor saying, "Jesus, I believe what you said. Make Daddy well. Dr. Brown, please come, I prayed believing that Daddy will get better." And to the incredulity of the doctor, David Wilkerson's father was healed. He stopped bleeding and got out of bed, pain-free. It was a laconic story, but it made an interesting point.
Mostly, this book astonishes me. Especially David's so-called "fleece prayers." But this little sub-story was especially well-timed. I was not surprised that Kenneth Wilkerson was healed, nor have any other the other decidedly miraculous happenings of the book surprised me, but I was struck by what his grandfather said. "The day you learn to be publicly specific in your prayers is the day you will discover power." On Sunday night I watched this message from Sunder Krishnan, about the power of prayer to bring about God's kingdom on earth, and I believe in this power, I believe in it more fervently than I believe in any other facet of evangelism, and now I'm hesitantly connecting the dots between Dr. Krishnan's message and what I'm reading in The Cross and the Switchblade. I'm thinking I may need to start getting ready to make a habit of praying outrageously bold prayers.
Mostly, I just have questions. Is it right to challenge God with bold prayers? It seems presumptuous, to make requests based on limited human perspective. It is less about a matter of faith -- believing God can do crazy and powerful things -- and more about reverence. Walking with Christ is about seeking His will, and aligning our desires with His, and my fear in praying crazy bold prayers is that my requests won't match up with His plans. And I think such a risk could hurt my testimony. But isn't that kind of what Christianity is like? Repeatedly flinging ourselves off a cliff -- taking a risk -- and He'll catch us if we're wrong? Is it better to do crazy bold things at the risk of being wrong, than to avoid giving God a reason to correct our failures at all? Is not taking that sort of risk a failure of its own? Can I claim to have faith without repeatedly putting my belief on trial? Am I saying what I mean? I wonder, I wonder.
I want to ask Jesus for what Jesus wants me to ask Him for. I don't want to breed a timid faith.