One of my favourite stories about intercessory prayer comes from Tony Campolo. A prayer meeting was held for him just before he spoke at a Pentecostal college chapel service. Eight men took Tony to a back room of the chapel, had him kneel, laid their hands on his head, and began to pray. That’s a good thing, Tony wrote, except that they prayed for a long time, and the longer they prayed, the more tired they got, and the more tired they got, the more they leaned on his head. “I want to tell you that when eight guys are leaning on your head, it doesn’t feel so good.”
To make matters worse, one of the men was not even praying for Tony. He went on and on praying for someone named Charlie Stolzfus: “Dear Lord, you know Charlie Stolzfus. He lives in that silver trailer down the road a mile. You know the trailer. Lord, just down the road on the right-hand side.” (Tony said he wanted to inform the pray-er that it was not necessary to furnish God with the directional material.) “Lord, Charlie told me this morning he’s going to leave his wife and three kids. Step in and do something, God. Bring that family back together.”
Tony writes that he finally got the Pentecostal preachers off his head, delivered his message, and got in his car to drive home. As he drove into Pennsylvania Turnpike, he noticed a hitchhiker. I’ll let him tell it from here…
‘We drove a few minutes and I said: “Hi my name’s Tony Campolo. What’s yours?” He said, “My name is Charlie Stolzfus.” I couldn’t believe it!
I got off the turnpike at the next exit and headed back. He got a bit uneasy with that and after a few minutes he said, “Hey mister, where are you taking me?”
I said, “I’m taking you home.”
He narrowed his eyes and asked, “Why?”
I said, “Because you just left your wife and three kids, right?”
That blew him away. “Yeah, that’s right.” With shock written all over his face, he plastered himself against the car door and never took his eyes off me.
Then I really did him in as I drove right to his silver trailer. When I pulled up, his eyes seemed to bulge as he asked, “How did you know that I lived here?”
I said, “God told me.” (I believe God tell me.)…
When he opened the trailer door his wife exclaimed, “You’re back!” You’re back!” He whispered in her ear and the more he talked the bigger her eyes got.
Then I said with real authority, “The two of you sit down. I’m going to talk and you two are going to listen!” Man did they listen! (…) That afternoon I led those two people to Jesus Christ.’
Source: Cited in The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg, 2002, Michigan USA, Zondervan, p.104-105