Reason #22 The Evidence for the Christian Faith from Answered Prayers
The sheer abundance of credible reports of answers to prayer strongly discredits the anti-supernatural worldviews of atheism.
"All I know is that when I pray, coincidences happen.” For 2000 years now, Christians have been praying to God for their “daily bread” and other needs, and “coincidences” keep happening as they do. At some point, these phenomena become so numerous and striking that explanations along the lines of randomness and coincidence are no longer intellectually satisfying. The sheer preponderance of evidence is enough to overwhelm our natural reluctance to believe.
Believers love to recall the day when George Muller’s orphanage in Britain had so completely exhausted its food supply and financial reserves that there was no food left for the orphans’ breakfast and no funds left for buying groceries. They sat at the table anyway and were praying for daily bread when a knock at their door brought the baker—who spent a sleepless night worried about the orphans—carrying with him a generous supply of bread. And a second knock on the door immediately afterwards brought the milkman whose delivery wagon had broken down in front of the orphanage, making it convenient for the milk to be “disposed of” by the orphans for free.
Similarly, when George and Sarah Clarke’s Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago was in danger of being shuttered for their inability to pay the rent, they appealed to God for help. On the day when their rent was due, the Clarkes were astonished to wake up to a yard filled with the kind of gourmet mushrooms coveted by Chicago restaurant owners and chefs. The sale of the mushrooms was adequate to meet the Clarkes’ rent obligations, and more curiously still, no similar mushroom crop had ever been seen on that property before that day or since.
In the 1950s, Dr. Helen Roseveare’s work took her to Nebobongo, in Congo, Africa, to establish a mission hospital. The routine medical needs at that time were unending, but Helen also soon became distressed over the plight of the victims of leprosy in her area. She was eager to help these destitute people, but the financial needs of her clinic were already taxed to the breaking point, and there seemed to be no way to fund a separate endeavor for providing the long-term care leprosy patients would require. Finally, when she could bear it no more, she ordered her first leprosy medical supplies, praying that charitable donations might arrive from her supporters in time to pay the bill at the end of the month. Sure enough, just before the bill came due, a donation arrived from the U.S. marked as a contribution “for the leprosy ministry.” The most uncanny detail associated with this event is that it took five months for that mail to be delivered from the U.S. to Roseveare’s clinic in Congo, and when that donation was first sent, there was no leprosy ministry in Nebobongo, and no real reason to suppose there ever would be.
Henry W. Adams relays the account of a pastor in the mountains of California, during the early 1900s, who ran completely out of food and money one afternoon and began praying for God to send some help for his family of seven. When it was almost time for dinner, a Christian woman they had never seen before came to their door offering them a large sack of flour with a most unusual explanation for her visit.
The nice woman once lived in the pastor’s area, and she still owned a house in that area, but now lived in San Diego. She was back in the area to visit her brother and, on an impulse, decided to look in on her old house which had been sitting vacant for some time. There she found the bag of flour, still perfectly good, and decided it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Back in her buggy, she just felt inclined to give the flour away, and she prayed for God to help her find a person in need of it. When her horse turned off the main road without being directed to do so, and then came to a stop in front of a particular house, she wondered if this was a home that might need a sack of flour.
As impossible as it sounds, this is the true account of how an ordinary horse was used to motivate a perfect stranger, in possession of a large sack of flour, to knock on the door of a praying pastor’s needy family.
These kinds of answers to prayer don’t happen to believers every day, but they have been happening from time to time in the Christian family for 2000 years. It may be convenient to regard an isolated instance of answered prayer as a mere coincidence, but tens of thousands of such instances? Not so.