September 4, 2017

Prayer in a Tight Spot

When something works for me, it seems that information needs to be shared so others can take advantage of it. By far the most important and best thing that has ever happened to me was experiencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing else has even come close and I love to tell others that God can do the same for them.

When I came to Jesus, I had absolutely nothing worthwhile to give Him. Rather, my offering was a broken life full of addiction, hatred, confusion, fear, restlessness, and a lot of heartache.

When I came to Jesus, I had absolutely nothing worthwhile to give Him. Rather, my offering was a broken life full of addiction, hatred, confusion, fear, restlessness, and a lot of heartache. Yet what Jesus wanted from me was the nothingness that I had. In exchange, He transformed my life, making me into a completely different person.

My Christian upbringing

It wasn’t as if the story of Jesus was new to me. Quite the opposite. My Christian heritage goes a long way back. My great-grandparents were a part of the Apostolic Faith Church when it was founded, and I grew up attending church and Sunday school. My dad worked in the church literature publishing department, so I was a familiar face around the headquarters office. Sometimes there was an opportunity to help assemble literature or do some other project, and I liked that. However, something was missing inside. Several times when I was a child, God spoke to my heart, but I did not yield to that call. It seemed to me I would have more fun not serving God.

As time went by, I drifted away from my early teachings and became involved in drugs, alcohol, and other aspects of a life of sin. My heart became hardened, and eventually I did not really feel condemned for my activities. For the most part, it seemed the Lord had stopped speaking to my soul, or else I just did not hear Him because I was not listening. During my high school years, I claimed to not believe in God, and even harassed some fellow students who met at lunchtime to pray. Yet once in a while, God’s conviction would cut right into my heart.

A desparate prayer

One night I had been drinking alcohol and taking drugs and then was out driving with some of my friends. I had a gun in the car when a police officer pulled me over, and I knew that I could be in a great deal of trouble. I had tried to evade getting pulled over, but in my condition, I took a wrong turn down a dead-end street. A few moments later, the red and blue lights were flashing from the patrol car behind me. As I sat there waiting for the inevitable, I noticed that I could see our church’s steeple. That night I told God if He would help me out of my situation, I would serve Him. Even though it was a pathetic prayer made only because I was in a tight spot, God heard it and extended mercy. The police officer let me off pretty easy. Afterwards the enemy of my soul told me it was just luck, but God’s Spirit really put conviction on my heart.

A few nights later, I went to a Sunday evening service during our church’s annual camp meeting. I felt so weighed down and tired of all my sinful activities. I had no idea that a revival was underway but soon found out that the evening service had been canceled because so many were still praying from the youth service hours earlier. As I sat in a chair near the back of the tabernacle, a close friend came and sat with me and eventually asked if I wanted to go pray. With no thought at all, I gave a quick “No thanks,” but God continued to speak to my heart. Shortly after that, another friend who was praying called out to me from quite a distance, saying, “Clark, come and pray!” It startled me, and I quickly turned away hoping to be left alone. Seconds later, as I glanced back that direction, he was still looking at me and repeated his cry, seemingly a bit louder. Finally I yielded and walked over to where he was praying, knelt down, and simply asked God to make a change in my life. In that moment God transformed my heart and life in a way I didn’t know was possible. By the time I looked up from praying, many were gathered around me in prayer, and my grandfather led them in singing an old hymn, “There’s a new name written down in glory.”

Growing in my faith

Soon after that day, my grandfather took me out to breakfast and told me that when a person is born again, sometimes there will be challenges. He said that we are targeted; the enemy of our souls is like a lion, looking for any area of weakness so he can destroy us. Then he said a Christian needs to grow, to keep moving forward, and to seek the other experiences God has available. The necessity of doing exactly that became clear to me, so I began to seek God, and He was faithful to draw near to me. His Spirit spoke to my soul about some restitutions that I needed to make. Some of them were hard, but I always prayed first, and God helped me.

One Sunday night while praying after a service, I felt that my life was fully consecrated to God. He came down and wonderfully, entirely sanctified me. He put a song in my heart and changed my attitude and the way that I thought.

During another camp meeting, I was hungry to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Many people were receiving from God, including my fiancé, and that made me want the experience even more. Yet, I did not receive the baptism during that camp meeting or the youth camp which followed. Before long, my thoughts were totally focused on that experience. At night I went to sleep thinking how much I needed my baptism, and in the morning, that was my first thought. It was hard to concentrate even at my job.

God had been so faithful to call for different consecrations, but there was one thing in particular that I had trouble yielding. That night I turned it over to God and said, “I give You everything that I have.”

Later that fall, a group of young men spent a weekend attending our church in Yakima, Washington. Saturday evening was a youth song night, but afterward, some of us got down to pray. God had been so faithful to call for different consecrations, but there was one thing in particular that I had trouble yielding. That night I turned it over to God and said, “I give You everything that I have.” When the Lord would bring something to my mind, I would say, “Lord, that is Yours.” When He would bring up something else, I would say, “Lord, that is Yours. Whatever You want me to do, I will do; wherever You want me to go, I will go.” That night God came down and filled me with the Holy Ghost. The joy that experience brought is beyond explanation.

God has been with me in all of life’s situations. While still a new Christian, I came down with pneumonia and was in the hospital for five days. The ministers came to pray for me, and that day I was able to go home. Three days later, I had to go and be x-rayed. The doctor came into the room and said, “Clark, I cannot explain what has happened, but the pneumonia in your lungs is completely gone. It should have been there for another six weeks.” He was so baffled that he took me into another room and showed me the x-rays. I knew what had happened—God had healed me! Later, God used that simple answer to prayer as a reminder of what He can do.

The thrill of telling others what God has done

In recent years, it has been my privilege to visit our churches and some of our correspondents in India. It is exciting to see the response of those who are hearing the Gospel for the first time or have only recently come to know Jesus as their Savior. It is such a thrill to be able to share with others all that the Lord has done for me, and to participate in their joy as they give their lives to Him. One young couple made a particular impression on me. They came to a service and both prayed through to victory. Later in the week, I was asked to assist the pastor in their water baptismal service, and I can still see those two shining faces.

One year my wife and I planned to take our daughters with us on a trip to India. At the time, our older girl was six and the younger was eighteen months. Some of my co-workers had inquired about the details of my upcoming trip, and when they heard that our daughters were going, they questioned whether it was safe or wise to take the girls so far away and to another culture with conditions so different from home. They wondered if we were acting responsibly, yet we believed it would be a good experience for them.

While we were in India, one day we hired the daughter of one of the ministers to take care of our girls at the home where we were staying so we could attend a ministers’ meeting at the church. Both of the girls were asleep when we left. During the meeting, we received a call from the babysitter, and she was a little frantic. She said, “Addie is very sick!” and described her symptoms. We were forty-five minutes away from the house. When I told our leader that Addie was sick, he told another minister who turned to the rest of the group and put his hands up in the air, and then they all began to pray. That made me feel better! We told our driver that Addie was sick and we needed to go. He turned the forty-five-minute drive into about a twenty-minute one, and we prayed as he drove. When we arrived at the house, Addie was fine. We took her to the hospital just to be certain, but she did not have a fever or any of the other symptoms anymore. God had heard and answered prayer. Wherever we are and whether the need is great or small, He is able to help us. We cannot outgive the Lord.

The choice to serve God was the best decision of my life. And happily, anyone else can also make that decision and enjoy the great benefits of serving Him.

apostolic faith magazine