Ralph Borthwick took off from the Wycliffe base Yarinacocha Peru.
He was transporting a team of Gospel workers into the mountainous jungles.
The weather was fine at take off, but without warning he was swallowed up in the worst storm he had ever seen.
Curtains of water cascaded over the plane, leaking in around the canopy and panels of the fuselage.
Turbulence shook the little, single-engine amphibian so hard it seemed the rivets would pop out.
There was nothing but static on the headset, and the rain got worse, like someone turning on a firehose to the windshield.
Borthwick felt as if he were in a submarine rather than an airplane as water spewed in from every seam and crack, drenching both him and his instrument panel.
Then came hail, beating against the windshield like bullets.
At the worst moment, the engines failed.
Apart from the pounding rain and howling wind, there was nothing but silence.
The droning of the engines had stopped.
As Borthwick struggled to retain control of the aircraft, he suddenly remembered the verse he and his wife had read just the day before at their breakfast table—Psalm 50:15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
During all the time of his emergency, Ralph realized he had not yet called on God.
Now, with death seemingly only seconds away, he began to pray: “Father, if You still have work for me and my passengers, please bring on the engine.”
At once, he thought of something.
He had not yet pulled the little handle that would shut off outside air to the engine, the carburetor heat.
He tried to dismiss the thought, for that wasn’t something one would normally do in an emergency.
But the thought came to him with force, and he reached down and jerked the carburetor heat handle, at the same time pulling back on the stick.
With a mighty roar the engines screamed to life.
Borthwick shouted “Praise the Lord!” and, at literally the last second, he pulled his plane out of the dive and Ralph Borthwick lived to fly again.
I dare say that most of our prayers aren’t quite that desperate.
And I would also say that many of our prayers are not nearly that effective.
We’d like for them to be, but, if we’re honest, we’ll have to admit that they just are not.
Well, maybe its because desperate times call for desperate prayer, and that may describe you this morning.
Church may not be something you’re all that accustomed to attending, but your life is falling apart, and out of sheer desperation, you’ve shown up here.
It could be your finances that are in ruin.
The bank’s about to foreclose and you’re about to lose all you’ve worked for.
Sickness has stolen your health and the diagnosis doesn’t look good.
Your marriage is falling apart and you are afraid that your spouse is about to leave you.
You’re here because you are desperate.
If that’s you, I want you to know something this morning.
God has you right where He wants you.
It could be your very desperation that will drive you to the relationship that can change your eternity, turn around your life, and bring great glory to Him.
If you’re here, and you are desperate this morning, listen.
God’s got you right where He wants you.
Or you may be here and you’re discouraged.
You’re a believer and you may have been one for a long time, but you are not so sure that prayer “works” anymore.
Frankly, you’ve bombarded heaven with prayers that seem to be falling on deaf ears.
It’s gotten to the point that you really wonder why you even bother praying.
The fact is, you may have even stopped out of your discouragement.
Here’s what you need to know: God wants you right where He has you.
You see, your situation, every single circumstance of it is a part of His plan in your life.
Nothing that has happened to You has taken Him by surprise.
He will use your situation for His glory by either delivering you from your circumstances or delivering you through them.
If you’re discouraged this morning, God wantsyou right where He has you.
And, quite frankly, while some of you are discouraged, part of your discouragement can only be blamed on you.
See, along with the desperate and the discouraged, we have pray-ers in this room today who are disabled, and they really need to listen too.
Now, by disabled, I mean many people pray, but they don’t put feet on those prayers.
If that’s you this morning, here’s what you need to know: God wants you where He can use you.
Prayer is not a passive activity.
Actually, prayer is one of the most demanding things you will ever do.
Well, I should say, effective prayer is one of the most demanding things you will ever do.
And it is effective prayer that I want you to learn about this morning.
I can think of no better story than the one in 2 Chronicles 20.
There we hear of what happened to a King named Jehoshaphat.
He faced a difficult situation and he did some amazingly effective praying.
You and I can learn from his example what the ingredients of effective praying really are.
In the first place, effective praying requires:
DIV 1: DESPERATION
Now there is no doubt that desperate was one word that really describes Jehoshaphat.
Vv 1-2 read:
It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat.
2 Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi).
Notice if you will that the people of Israel faced a powerful threat.
Three different nations came against them: the people of Moab, the people of Ammon and “others with them besides the Ammonites.”
His enemy is described to Jehoshaphat as “a great multitude.”
The threat was powerful.
And the threat was somewhat anonymous.
While some of the people involved in the threat were known, it seems that the writer hints that there was an unknown element to this threat because he says that they are coming from beyond the sea.
The threat was powerful, it was anonymous and it was imminent.
He concludes “and they are in Hazazon Tamar (which is En Gedi).
En-gedi was an oasis in the desert located only 35 miles from Jerusalem.
This mighty, powerful, anonymous threat was closer to Jerusalem than Raleigh is to us.
No wonder the bible says in v 3 that Jehoshaphat feared.
Literally that means he was in a state of feeling great distress and deep concern about his circumstances.
In the truest sense of the word, Jehoshaphat was desperate.
And have you ever notice that desperate people tend to pray?
You see, some people in our country would agree with what FDR said when he gave his famous speech after assuming his office during the Great Depression.
You remember what he said?
He said that “the only thing to fear was what?
In other words he was saying, “Fear is the enemy.
Don’t get desperate and certainly do not do anything desperate.”
I want you to know this morning that while FDR’s advice may have made political sense, it is the opposite of what we must do if we are to pray effectively.
We spend most of our lives ignoring the danger we’re really in.
Have you noticed?
We don’t go to funerals because we don’t want to think about the inevitability of death.
We won’t balance our checkbooks because we’re afraid we’ll be out of money!
Like ostriches, we spend most of our lives hiding from truth because we can’t handle the desperation.
I really see this on airplanes.
Why do you think alcohol is so popular in mid flight?
It’s because if a person gets wasted enough, the plane may go down, but they won’t care.
For me its different.
I don’t drink, so I do the only thing I can do.
When we take off, I close my eyes and grab ahold of my seat.