SBC Life Articles

The Power of Prayer

Carla Torrence describes it simply as "something God wanted us to do." There is no question in her mind or in the mind of her husband, James, that they are right where God wants them — serving His people in His church. "It's a great place to serve," said James. "I really feel called to do this. There are other things that I'm involved in at Providence and I love them, but I have no doubts this is my primary call from God."

They're talking about their work as coordinators of MorningTide, the Sunday morning prayer time where members of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., pray in shifts from 8 a.m. to noon. Each Sunday they pray for specific aspects of Sunday School, morning worship, and church activities. They also pray about the sermon, the music, and the people who sit in the congregation.

A century ago, Charles Spurgeon set the example. As he preached, a group of men were praying in the boiler room beneath the pulpit of the church. Today, James and Carla Torrence follow in their footsteps.

Their calling to this unique ministry came several years ago before they even joined Providence. James attended a local Promise Keepers event and learned about the seven promises of a Promise Keeper, one of which encourages men to support the mission of their church by honoring and praying for their pastor and actively giving of their time and resources.

"I have always felt strongly about the power of prayer and the mighty work God does" through it, said James. "Without Him we can do nothing. If we don't ask through prayer, He definitely won't answer. That Promise Keepers event really inspired me to begin praying for my church leaders."

Returning to his home church, James helped organize a men's prayer group which met early each Sunday morning to pray for the pastors and the worship service. "James has always had a heart for prayer," said Carla. "The men's prayer group he helped found was just like MorningTide. He didn't know the idea was being done other places, too. He just felt the Lord leading him.

"I have attended Bible Study Fellowship for several years and developed the privilege of prayer there. So we both knew the importance of that unique communication with the Lord," she said.

When the Torrences first attended Providence in early 1995 they were looking for a place to serve. Not content only to be ministered to, they wanted to be a part of what God was doing in their new place of worship. That's when they met Joel and Kay Walker, directors of church's prayer ministry. After a men's meeting, Joel took James on a tour of the fourth floor Prayer Suite.

"He told me about MorningTide," James said, "and immediately I knew this is just what we were looking for. Carla and I went the next Sunday and have been going ever since."

Today, the couple coordinates the MorningTide ministry, working out the schedule of volunteers who commit to pray four times a year (once a quarter) for one hour during one of the three morning worship services. "Anchors" lead the "prayers" in the prayer time so all aspects of the morning worship can be covered in prayer. It's a unique ministry through which they have seen results.

"The 8 a.m. service was pretty sparsely attended when it first began," said James. "But the more we prayed for it, the more chairs we had to add. That's God at work."

Senior Pastor David Horner gives his full support to the prayer ministry. "Having preached with simultaneous prayer support and without it, I cannot imagine stepping into the pulpit to proclaim God's message from His Word without the solid undergirding of prayer," he said. "There is a freedom and power in preaching that can be explained in no other way!"

Interim Shepherding Ministries Pastor Bill Dunn, who preaches in the 8 a.m. service, has also been involved in MorningTide. "To be part of this ministry is to participate in the morning service at a significant depth. I wish more people were part of this vital link, this blessed partnership."

James pointed out that there have been disappointments, too. "With such a large church, when I first got started, I thought there'd be a waiting list to get involved. That hasn't been the case," he said.

James also said that some people are hesitant about praying out loud with a group. "If you prefer to pray alone, you can," he said. "But usually once we get started praying, the Holy Spirit fills those folks who want to be quiet and they join right in!"

Carla can identify with that. "I've only been a Christian for five years, but already I've realized God uses the thing you are weakest in to teach you the most. When I would go to Bible studies and prayer gatherings, I would not say a word. I was so timid, I would only pray silently.

"But as I developed a real closeness with Jesus, now I talk all the time. God doesn't care about eloquence, He cares about your heart."

"This ministry has enhanced our relationship with the Lord," she said. "You can truly feel the presence of the Lord in the chapel on Sunday mornings. It takes your breath away. It's rejuvenating."

    About the Author

  • Kelli Williams