In late August of 2008 – the third anniversary of Katrina’s
devastating landfall – hurricane “Gustav” crashed into Cuba,
recording the highest wind gust ever recorded there at 211 mph. All of
the computer models were forecasting a disastrous impact as the
hurricane would make landfall on the central Gulf Coast somewhere
between Houston, Texas and Mobile, Alabama. The models showed that the
storm would intensify to “Category 5,” bringing destruction to the
very cities and towns which had not fully recovered from Katrina.
On August 30 – with his memory of Katrina on his mind - New Orleans
Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation of the entire city. The
governor of Louisiana issued an order for nearly two million people to
evacuate in advance of the storm.
Meanwhile, as those evacuations were taking place on the coast, one
hundred and sixty miles to the north - inside the walls of the Central
Mississippi Correctional Facility - the KAIROS Prison Ministry team was
finishing a very special service. Each participant, inmate and team
member, had experienced a time of personal reflection leading to
forgiving those in their lives that had hurt them deeply. Murderers,
drug dealers, abusers, pastors and businessmen prayed to forgive
enemies, friends, and/or family members. It had been a powerful
service. As one of the pastors stood to give the closing prayer, he was
immediately led to pray against the storm in the Gulf.
Forgiveness results effective prayer. Lack of forgiveness quenches the
Holy Spirit. Prayers in many churches are ineffective, because of the
lack of forgiveness. How can you rebuke a storm outside when there is a
storm raging inside?
That night inside the prison walls, this band of a hundred men prayed
that the storm in the Gulf would dissipate and be reduced in intensity.
It would have been inappropriate to pray that the storm swerve away and
hit somewhere else. We prayed for the Lord to rebuke the storm.
We all had a bit of spiritual pride as “Gustav” - instead of
intensifying over the warm gulf waters - dropped to a “Category 2
storm” before making landfall on September 1st. The eye wall of Gustav
came ashore in the evacuated areas west of New Orleans, thus minimizing
My pride was short lived. On Monday evening, my brother called from
California to ask how we were doing. The remnants of Gustav had passed
near our home. My brother had been at a large Christian gathering in
Anaheim, where they had prayed that the storm would dissipate. He
commented, “Prayer really does works!” On Tuesday, I opened an
earlier email prayer bulletin from another ministry. The letter read,
“We believe that the Lord has given us authority to pray the death
& destruction out of the hurricane and to command the winds to be
diminished, and that is what we are doing. We are asking all of you to
join with us in our intercession for the Gulf Coast and the East
It seems that there were a number of people all over the world that were
praying the same prayer. The Holy Spirit had inspired many to pray.
During the “Cold War,” I witnessed - at close hand - the
construction of the Berlin wall. In the army, stationed in Germany, I
had participated in a small way in the Allied response to the building
of the wall. The US Army moved a regimental combat team - through East
Germany – into Berlin the day after the wall went up.
In the late nineteen eighties, an organization of Christians,
Intercessors for Germany - headed by Berthold Buecker - was led to bring
German people together to repent. They believed that unity in prayer
could destroy the strongholds of division that kept the Berlin wall in
place. Later, though no one orchestrated it, East Germans began to come
together in Leipzig, interceding fervently for their country. They were
at great risk because the Stasi were watching and recording. Thousands
gathered in the church and throughout the city to pray for Germany. It
was too late to stop the pendulum of history. In November of 1989,
dismantling of the Berlin Wall began. In 1992, the demolition was
completed making way for the reunification of Germany.
Over the next several years we heard from literally hundreds of people
who had been in Germany and prayed that the wall would come down. Each
one took some satisfaction in their part in praying down the wall.
We can always be pleased when our prayers are answered; whether we pray
for a hurricane to dissipate, a wall to come down, or for some tyrant to
be defeated. But we also have to realize that it is not about us. Though
our prayers are effective, it is all about being a part of the Body of
Christ and responding to the Holy Spirit as He calls us to pray.
The interesting thing about this is that the Holy Spirit speaks to many
at the same time and causes them all to pray the same way. The resulting
prayers go up to God as a divine chorus rather than a solo aria. The
effectiveness of our prayers is based upon our submission to the maestro
as He conducts the concert.
Excerpted from "Pray Like Jesus (The Ministry of Jesus Book 1)" by William Johnson. Copyright © 2017 by William Johnson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.