Many of you will recognize Tony Evans. He’s a powerful preacher from Texas who is in great demand as a conference speaker. I’ve had the privilege of hearing Tony in person at Willow Creek Church a few autumns ago. He delivered one of the best messages on the Great Commission that I have ever heard!
Tony tells the story of being in Columbia S.C. to preach a crusade at the University of South Carolina’s football stadium. Thousands had gathered for the evening session, but news reports indicated a serious thunderstorm was on the way. In fact, the storm was expected to hit at 7:00 pm—the exact time the meeting was scheduled to start.
Well, the sky grew darker and darker. The organizers didn’t know what to do. I mean, if you’d have been in charge what would you have done. Here, you have thousands awaiting the service; you’ve flown Tony in and put him up at great expense, but it looks like rain is going to drown all your efforts. What would you do?
Well, it was a group of preacher and christians, so they decided to call a prayer meeting. When they came together, Tony says that all the preachers prayed “safe prayers” – you know– prayers where God would look good either way it went. Lots of comments about the Lord’s will and so forth, all quite undemanding of God. Then, a woman named Linda spoke up, asking if she could pray. Linda's prayer went something like this: "Lord, thousands have gathered to hear the Good News about your Son. It would be a shame on your name for us to have all these unbelievers go without the gospel when you control the weather, and you don't stop it. In the name of Jesus Christ, address this storm!"
Now if you had been there, which way would you have prayed? Would you have prayed more like the pastors or like Linda? And, furthermore, which one prayed the more biblically correct prayer?
Which just brings us back to Linda. She was a bold pray-er if there ever was one. You remember she prayed:
"Lord, thousands have gathered to hear the Good News about your Son. It would be a shame on your name for us to have all these unbelievers go without the gospel when you control the weather, and you don't stop it. In the name of Jesus Christ, address this storm!"
What happened? Well, Everyone took their places under the dark, threatening sky. The leader of the crusade told the people, "We'll go as long as we can." Umbrellas sprouted up among the crowd. A man sitting next to Linda opened his umbrella and offered to shield her as well. Linda refused.
Evans says he and his wife watched as the rain clouds came up to the stadium and then split in two. The storm rained on both sides of the stadium and came back together on the other side. All of those gathered for the crusade stayed dry.
As Evans points out: "How did Linda get what the preachers didn't? She had the boldness, the shameless audacity, to ask." Do you?