Monday, 9 August 2010

Praying in the dark

I am not the kind of person who prays for people and they instantly glow or fall over. In fact most of the time after I have prayed for people, they smile politely, say thank you and nothing much seems to happen. I guess I hope it's been vaguely helpful and leave it at that.

The other day I met someone I prayed for about three years ago. He told me that after that prayer he had been healed of a depression that he had endured for about 40 years. Now this doesn't happen very often. It certainly doesn't happen to my prayers very often. I dimly remember praying for him, and it seemed like most of the other times I've prayed for people – pleasant but a trifle disappointing. It was just an ordinary prayer, prayed because someone asked me to, with just a modicum of faith that he and I could muster - a very small modicum of faith on my part. Sore knees and headaches are one thing, but I'm not sure I really think God can heal clinical depression. But he did. And in some way, my small prayer was part of that. Jesus said you only needed faith as small as a mustard seed for something pretty remarkable to happen. It shouldn't be, but it is surprising when you see that happen in front of your very eyes, because my faith was definitely in mustard seed territory, barely visible. I'm sure my prayer was not the key factor, and was just one of many. But it somehow blended with all kinds of other requests, tears and longings that were heard in the courts of heaven and resulted in this man's life being changed, the dark cloud of gloom lifting and happiness returning. If we can play a part in that, then surely it is worth keeping praying even if nothing much seems to happen. It is always worth praying, even when you can't quite bring yourself to believe it will make much difference.


  1. In his book, 'Small Faith, Great God', a very early book written when he was chaplain of Downing College, Tom Wright wrote this - about prayer - 'What is not required, in the first instance, is great faith, but faith in a great God.' That has sustained my prayer life for decades...

  2. John Wimber: in the old days we prayed for nobody and nobody was healed. NOw we pray for everyone and some are healed. At least it's an improvement.


St Mellitus - a Story of Redemption

This is the text of a sermon preached at St Paul's Cathedral on Thursday 2nd May 2019, when  the  Cathedral was celebrating St Mellitus...