Giving Prayer New Priority
It turns ordinary mortals into men of power . . . It
brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God.
There is no power like that of prevailing prayer.
Samuel Chadwick, The Path of Prayer1
His name was Floyd King, but we called him “The Wizard of Ahs.”
It wasn’t a nice name, and he didn’t deserve it.
Pastor King had come out of retirement to shepherd the Nazarene church in the sleepy desert town of Holtville, California. I was thirteen when I met him. My older brothers and I would sit in the fourth pew from the front, counting the number of times Pastor King would hesitate and say “ah” between points in his sermon. Like Joseph’s brothers, we meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.
It made us pay attention. And as we watched and listened, we were able to observe a true believer in the twilight of his life. Little did I know that his impact on my life would last well beyond his years.
Not long after Pastor King’s arrival, my father was hospitalized for major surgery. Pastor King would travel over twenty-five miles every day to call on Dad and to pray for him. He even took the time to give Dad a shave each morning. After that, my brothers and I dared not breathe a word about “The Wizard of Ahs.” Dad wouldn’t have it.
When I began to question my faith a year later, Pastor King was there again, patiently listening to my doubts (I had a lot of them). He and his wife quietly made themselves available, answering my questions when they could and praying for me when they couldn’t. That summer I wore a path to their door and found it open, even if I hadn’t called to ask if it was okay if I came by. After each visit, I somehow always found us praying together.
It was one summer evening as I sat on my old Schwinn ten-speed bike outside their home saying goodbye that Pastor King remarked, “We think God may be calling you to be a pastor someday.” At age fourteen, being a pastor was the farthest thing from my mind. It would take me more than six years to catch up to what the Kings came to realize in the quiet moments we spent together in prayer. God, in His kindness and humor, had given “The Wizard of Ahs” a special place in my life. It wasn’t courage or a brain or a heart that I found. It was a calling.
This excerpt was taken from The Lost Art of Praying Together: Rekindling Passion for Prayer
©2009 by James Banks
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