July 11, 2012

You Don't Have to Pray Alone

The caller said Amber was in the emergency room of a local hospital, just moments from a difficult and risky surgery. She wanted someone to pray for her.

Whom did she call?

A live television program. She called into Hope Channel’s Let’s Pray! and talked with cohost David Franklin.

“I asked the viewers watching right then in the moment—here in North America, across Europe, and throughout India, Africa, Australia, and the rest of the South Pacific—to bombard heaven with prayer,” says Franklin. “Not long after the program her pastor sent us a message via Facebook praising the Lord, thanking us, and saying, ‘All is well.’”

“Another time we received a call from a woman named Joanne who had called several weeks earlier asking prayer for her daughter’s friend who was recently diagnosed with leukemia,” says Franklin. “The friend was given only several more months to live. But here’s Joanne, back on our live program, telling us that her daughter’s friend recently had a biopsy that showed no trace of the cancer.”

2012 1519 page14 linkPrayer and Praise
And so it goes, night after night, Monday through Thursday, for nearly 20 staff and volunteers of Let’s Pray, one of Hope Channel’s five new live interactive call-in programs.

Each night behind the scenes the crew gathers for a quick rundown of the night’s program; a review of assignments for the technical crew and call screeners; discussions between producer, hosts, and guests; and lots of prayer. Lots. In fact, a number of volunteers arrive long before the program goes on the air and pray in an upstairs conference room, dubbed “the upper room,” for the crew, equipment, the global audience, and the callers.

Then, from the director’s countdown to the moment the screen goes black, the next hour is an intense mix of praise reports, prayer requests, and discussions on the art and science of prayer. A flurry of text messages, e-mails, and messages from Facebook and Twitter accounts around the world arrive; and phone calls, dozens of them, about eight of which will get on the air each night.

“One night we got a call from Frank, who said he had recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. A family member told him about Let’s Pray! and suggested that he call for prayer. He said he spent most of his 60-plus years as an atheist, but figured he had nothing to lose, so he called in,” says Kandus Thorp, a Hope Channel vice president who serves as executive producer and cohost of Let’s Pray!

“David prayed with him that night, and several weeks later Frank called again. He had returned to the doctor, who did seven different additional tests on him and could no longer find any evidence of the illness that had threatened his life. He called to tell us the good news of his healing, his surrender to Jesus, and to ask us to pray that his adult children ask Jesus to be their Savior, because they were raised in an atheist home and now think he’s crazy to believe in God.”

Thorp also shared a recent e-mail:

“While flipping channels, I came across your program and have not missed one since. I had come home to an empty house one night because my husband was taking cancer treatments at the VA hospital about 90 miles away. In addition, my daughter and son-in-law, parents of two small children, had lost their jobs. And I was suffering with arthritis and had fallen a couple of days earlier and broken my arm. I simply didn’t want to face all of the problems before me.

“After the program I called, and someone prayed for me. I have been a Christian for more than 40 years, but I had never experienced anyone praying for me the way he did. I knew that God had heard his prayer on my behalf. Today I’d like to praise God for answered prayers:

• “My son-in-law starts work at an automobile plant where it is nearly impossible to get a job.
• “My husband completed his treatment and was told yesterday that his blood work was in excellent shape. They were surprised at his progress.

• “My arm has healed completely. The pain in my legs from the arthritis is not as great as it once was. I’m believing in God for a complete recovery.

“I give God all the glory for what He has done for me and my family. I’m no longer afraid to face the coming year. Thank you for praying for us and giving me hope.—Annie.”

The Human Touch
“This is why we do the program,” says Thorp. “We want to give viewers everywhere hope and a connection to God. Now viewers never have to pray alone, and they have a global community who will support them.”

“Spiritual growth happens in a community, and Let’s Pray! is built, through social media and our live program, to be an interactive global prayer community that strengthens the faith of those who are already strong and lifts those who may be on the verge of giving up,” adds Franklin.

2012 1519 page14“Viewers share prayer requests with other viewers by calling the program or by posting them on Facebook or Twitter. If you want someone to pray with you but are not sure you want your request aired to a global audience, you have the option to request prayer off the air, or to send in your request by e-mail,” adds Thorp. “If you pray for another viewer, you can let them know by replying at Facebook or Twitter, or by recording a ten-second video clip on your phone or webcam to say something like ‘I want Sarah in Fresno to know I’m praying that her surgery will go well.’ ”

Let’s Pray! is not just an hour of calls or reading prayer requests. Thorp and Franklin, and occasional guest host Jean Boonstra, begin with a review of, and prayer for, global news events. They also interview guests on a variety of prayer-related topics such as fasting and anointing, how God answers prayer, teaching children to pray, and how to pray for financial matters, relationships, health concerns, or career direction.

Karen Suvankham, Let’s Pray!’s producer, says that while the program usually addresses such felt needs, God uses these challenges to draw people into a closer relationship to Him and to encourage other viewers.

“We often have callers who are emotional, on the verge of tears. Although we often take several prayer requests in a row before stopping to pray, any time a caller is emotional or has a very serious request, we will stop right then to pray with them while they’re still on the line,” Suvankham explains. “We’ve done this with a caller whose child was missing, a long-term drug addict seeking power to quit, a family whose son was just murdered, and a girl whose father had lost his job that day. The fact that people are asking for prayer tells us that they feel their need of the help that only God can give. This is often the first step on the path to a relationship with Christ.”

“What we all find most rewarding are all the calls we get from people who update us with a testimony of how God has intervened. Those kinds of calls are growing in number all the time,” she adds. “It is very humbling to realize that  the simple prayers we share in faith are being answered.”

Let’s Pray! airs live, and during a number of rebroadcasts during the day, on Hope Channel in North America, Hope Channel Europe, Hope Channel International, and Hope Channel India. The combination simultaneously reaches hundreds of millions of homes around the planet via subscriber-based satellite and cable systems, and church-owned free-to-air stations. Hope Channel is on DIRECTV channel 368 in the United States, Glorystar channel 104 throughout North America, and online at www.HopeTV.org, where all programs are available on demand.

Scott Steward is a freelance writer/editor/publicist and marketing consultant. He has served as marketing/communication director for Amazing Facts ministries, Washington Adventist University, and Hope Channel. This article was published July 12, 2012.