Encouragement Sermon Illustrations

Encouragement Sermon Illustrations

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Encouragement to Pray

"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matt. 21:22).

A number of years ago it was my privilege to attend a Bible conference at which the late Dr. D. M. Stearns was the main speaker. On one particular occasion he had a question hour, and, among the questions there was one that I never forgot. It read something like this: "If you had prayed all your life for the salvation of a loved one, and then you got word that that person had died without giving any evidence of repentance after having lived a sinful life, what would you think, both of prayer itself and of the love of God and His promises to answer ?"

It was a very striking question and I know that every­one in the room sat up and wondered what the doctor would have to say in reply to it.

He said, "Well, dear sister, I should expect to meet that loved one in heaven, for I believe in a God who answers prayer, and if He put that exercise upon your heart to pray for that dear one, it was because He, doubt­less, intended to answer it."

Then he told a story. Many years ago there was a dear old lady living in Philadelphia who had a very wayward son. This young man had been brought up in church and Sunday school, but he had drifted away from everything holy. He had gone to sea and had become a very rough, careless, godless sailor.

One night his mother was awakened with a very deep sense of need upon her heart. When fully awake, she thought of her son and she was impressed that he was in great danger; as a result, she got up, threw on a dressing gown, knelt by her bedside, and prayed earnestly that God would undertake for the boy, whatever his need was. She didn't understand it, but after praying for perhaps two or three hours there came to her a sense of rest and peace, and she felt sure in her heart that God had answered. She got back into bed and slept soundly until the morning. Day after day she kept wondering to herself why she was thus awakened and moved to prayer, but somehow or other she could not feel the need to pray for that boy anymore; rather she praised God for something which she felt sure He had done for her son.

Several weeks passed. One day there was a knock at the door. When she went to the door—there stood her boy! As soon as he entered the room, he said, "Mother, I'm saved!" Then he told her a wonderful story.

He told how a few weeks earlier, his ship had been tossed in mid-Atlantic by a terrific storm; and it looked as though there were no hope of riding it through. One of the masts had snapped; the captain called the men to come and cut it away. They stepped out, he among them, cursing and reviling God because they had to be out in such an awful night. They were cutting away this mast when suddenly the ship gave a lurch, and a great wave caught this young man and carried him overboard.

As he struggled almost helplessly with the great waves of the sea, the awful thought came to him, "I'm lost forever!" Suddenly, he remembered a hymn that he had often heard sung in his boyhood days, "There is life in a look at the crucified One; There is life at this moment for thee; Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved; Unto Him who was nailed to the tree."

He cried out in agony of heart, "Oh, God, I look, I look to Jesus." Then he was carried to the top of the waves and lost consciousness.

Hours afterwards when the storm had ceased and the men came out to clear the deck, they found him lying unconscious, crowded up against a bulwark. Evidently, while one wave had carried him off the deck, another had carried him back again. The sailors took him into the cabin and gave him restoratives. When he came to, the first words from his lips were, "Thank God, I'm saved!"

From that time on he had an assurance of God's salvation that meant everything to him.

Then his mother told him how she had prayed for him that night. They realized that it was just at the time when he was in such desperate circumstances, and God had heard and answered.

Now suppose that that young man's body had never been brought back to the ship. Suppose he had sunk down into the depths. People might have thought he was lost forever in his sin, but he would have been as truly saved as he actually was. God had permitted him to come back in testimony of His wonderful grace.

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