Faithlife Sermons

Performance Prayer

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In his autobiography, Donahue, Phil Donahue, shares an experience from Holden, West Virginia. He and a CBS television crew had gone to this Appalachian community to cover rescue attempts of thirty-eight miners. They had planned to be there one night but stayed three, eating doughnuts and drinking Red Cross coffee in bitterly cold weather.

At last the rescue teams emerged, covered with soot and grime, weary beyond words. Relatives of the miners were waiting in the snow. Gathered around a smudge pot, a preacher said, “Dear God, let us pray.” They joined hands and sang, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Donahue says it gave him goose bumps. It was beautiful! He knew it would make a great film for CBS, but the camera was frozen; by the time it was warmed up, the service was over. At 2:30 in the morning, Donahue approached the pastor with a request.

“Reverend, I am from CBS News. Would you please go back through your prayer again? We have 206 television stations across the country who will hear you pray for these miners.”

The humble minister looked at him and said,

Donahue was shocked that anyone would turn down a chance to be on CBS News. At last he made his way to a pay telephone to report to New York: “The won’t pray!”

Donahue claims that the preacher’s stand was the greatest demonstration of moral courage he has ever encountered. The man would not “show biz” for Jesus. He would not sell his soul—not even to CBS. Donahue says he often thinks of that preacher and that night. “I don’t know where he is now, but if he isn’t going to Heaven, no one is.

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