"I believe that God will not involve himself in the affairs of humankind apart from prayer, I believe that God works while we pray, and in this way we learn to work with Him and not just for Him," said Jim Grant, one of the 17,000 National Prayer Center volunteer.
"I have taken calls from a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, an assortment of beliefs, miscellaneous lifestyles, different races and a mixed bag of sins. The needs could overwhelm you were it not for the Throne of Grace."
The NPC reports a need for volunteers to meet the increasing demand for prayers around the world. Since its establishment in October, 1994, the NPC growth have been staggering, from 47,000 calls the first year to 650,000 calls by 2002, and their outreach have extended across international borders as 9 other nations joined in the network of prayer.
The requests, once received only by phone, are now made through fax, e-mail, postal mail and telephone. During that time 830 men, women and teens were saved through this ministry of prayer. All the requests are entered into a computer database and then sent to the various 370 International and National Intercessory Prayer Networks. NPC is comprised of 160 Satellite Prayer Centers in addition to the prayer networks.
"Several individuals pray over each request. We have seen many more praise reports and are thankful for each answered prayer that has brought healing or some other miracle into a life of another soul," Madonna Paulson, NPC coordinator, said.
"If only pastors across this nation could catch my vision and see my heart for the lost and hurting--so much more could be accomplished," Paulson said.
The NPC staff continues answering letters for help, entering requests into the computer and praying for those who seek guidance through prayers. However, in 2002, the NPC was able to minister less than half of their 550,000 phone calls received. The staff continually recruits assistance for the program and the ministry.
"I am grateful for every call answered; however, the calls that are not answered cause me great grief and sadness," she said, "It is my hope and desire that every call coming to 1-800-4-PRAYER be answered and the caller be prayed for by a born again, spirit-filled Christian."
To answer more calls, there must be more volunteers in the ministry. Paulson notes, however, the challenge in recruitment because of the immobility of the older, retired "faithful prayer warriors." Many times, this generation is unable to get out to assist in the effort.
Their hopes lies on the younger generation who can participate through prayer centers and in church groups across the country.
"It is up to the Baby Boomers to step up to the plate, but so far, I find little interest for prayer among this group. Prayerfully this will change soon," Paulson said. Pastors and churches partnering with the ministry have noticed benefits to the whole congregation.
There are many callers who share their testimonies about their answered prayers.
A caller, Vivian, requested prayer for her uncle. Within 24 hours after the prayer, there was a miraculous turnaround in his condition; Maritza's mother in law requested and offered prayers for Maritza who had stomach cancer. However, after prayers and one chemotherapy treatment, she no longer needed to receive additional treatment; Mikey the infant, was on life-support and doctors predicted the worst. However, after prayers, three was a dramatic change in his condition.
Pastors too, have shared testimony saying that the prayer has become more important to the entire congregation. They report people growing in spiritual matters, and rising church attendance.
Most of the callers are Christians, but often times those who seek spiritual help ask for prayers across the Web. Paulson said their greatest joy lies in bringing the non-believers to a relationship with Jesus. She encourages the volunteers to let the callers have a personal relationship with Jesus. Paulson knows that though the callers and the prayer volunteers may not see each other here, they will certainly greet each other in heaven.
By Pauline C.