By now everyone has probably heard of the car accident in Missouri where a priest just showed up to administer the holy oils to the young woman trapped in her car. It was at the young woman’s request that her rescuers pray with her and that is when the priest showed up, calming the young woman’s fears and help boost the morale of the First Responders whose equipment was not able to get her out.
What a perfect example of Intercessory Prayer, prayer that is asking for help for someone or something. We sometimes think that prayer is all about God’s power to change our hearts and minds. That is true, but we should not forget that prayers can change His mind as well. Remember what God told Solomon: “If my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
This promise tells us that what we do matters. What we do releases grace, blessing, pardon and revival upon other people. We can influence God and He does hear our prayers.
During World War II an entire country prayed for help when British and French soldiers were trapped at Dunkirk, France on the beach. The demise of thousands of soldiers looked imminent, when King George VI called for a day of prayer across England to help these soldiers and the country of England which was on the brink of being invaded by Hitler’s forces. Called the Miracle of Dunkirk, when the day he was going to invade dawned with bad storms and fog making it difficult for the Germans to fly and Hitler called off the invasion, but the English Channel was calm enough for ships to rescue the soldiers who were trapped bringing them home. Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this rescue, “a miracle of deliverance.” He said, “A guiding hand interfered to make sure the allied forces were not annihilated at Dunkirk.” A day of national thanksgiving was called to celebrate.
Was this just an error in judgment on Hitler’s part along with weird weather? Or was it divine providence coming as a result of people’s prayers of intercession. Most people believe it was a combination of God hearing people’s prayers and the bravery of soldiers and rescuers involved.
The young woman in the accident believed that prayer would help her have the courage to survive this horrendous accident and prayer would help her rescuers figure out how to get her out. The mysterious priest, later identified as Father Patrick Dowling, just happened to come along the accident and wanted to help by praying with the rescuers and victim. When the fire department’s equipment couldn’t get the young woman out of her car, another city’s fire department arrived on the scene and their equipment did get her out. Many times we say things like, “It was a stroke of luck” or “what a coincidence” that something happens, but maybe it’s a combination of God interceding through the works of His people. He hears our prayers then He speaks to each of us, helping us see how we can help each other. And intercessory prayer is interceding prayer, God interceding and each of us interceding by God’s call.