“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NKJV).
I climbed the steps to the platform, constructed on the roof of a concession stand overlooking multiple soccer fields. As I looked out over the sea of Nigerian faces, I could not see the edge of the crowd in any direction. I cued our praise band, and as it and the choir struck their first note, a tremendous wind suddenly hit the stage. Lightning flashed around us, and above our heads torrents of rain came at us from all four directions at once.
A large partition behind the choir risers came crashing down in the wind and injured several people. I turned and saw the havoc that was happening in the choir and the fear that was sweeping over the platform as the wind, rain and lightning continued under a clear starry night sky.
Our entire team did the most important thing that we could ever do: we prayed. There was no doubt that we were engaging in a spiritual struggle with the powers of darkness. As the storm raged, I asked Michael, an American missionary our church supported, to step up to the one working microphone and rebuke the storm.
“In the name of Christ Jesus,” Michael cried out, “wind and rain, stop!”
The moment Michael shouted those words, the wind, rain and lightning stopped as suddenly as they had begun. I was told a witch came into the crowd not far from the platform where I was to speak and began to curse the people who had come to worship. Rather than succumb to fear, the believers cried out to God. God, I am told, responded by paralyzing the witch where she stood and striking her dumb. Still in an attitude of prayer, the believers around her then led her to Christ.
After preaching a message of pure salvation for over an hour, I issued a challenge: “If you want forgiveness for your sins…simply raise your hand.” No fewer than one hundred thousand people raised their hands to receive their Savior that night.
Back in my hotel room hours later, I got on my knees to thank the Lord. I had barely begun to pray when I heard the Lord say, “Don’t limit me. Don’t limit what I can do.”
This devotional is drawn from Carter Conlon’s book It’s Time to Pray.