Not long ago, a man I did ministry with here in Chattanooga, Anton, went into cardiac arrest. Then things only got worse: he was put into a medically induced coma, was 100% on a breathing machine, and worst of all, the front portion of his brain ceased functioning. Anton’s family was facing the question of letting nature take its course, or putting him in a nursing home for the rest of his life.
Regardless, it appeared he was going to be “a vegetable.” This was his condition for approximately two weeks, but all along people were praying for this precious man. Though I cannot fully explain why such things happen to some, and not for others, things dramatically turned around for Anton. He started breathing on his own, became conscious, and a new MRI done by the same doctor revealed his brain was once again functioning—Anton went from being incapable of recognizing family to knowing precisely who they were! Needless to say, those of us who had been praying were ecstatic with joy and relief!
In the interim period while Anton was struggling in the hospital there were a lot of tumultuous things happening in our country, and through social media I became aware of some troubling behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs in some people who had formerly identified with Christ but had now become, for all practical purposes, godless. This had been discouraging for me; it is hard to watch people become enraged and act out against God, especially people you know and love personally.
So on the very night I learned Anton was going to make it and that his mind had come back to him, I had a dream. In my dream I saw an old friend who had lost faith act out in terrible ways. It was one of those dreams that was so real you thought it was real while in it, and after I woke up from being disturbed, I was still really upset and began to pray for this lost soul. Eventually, I went back to sleep, and then this thought come to my mind, “People’s hearts come under attack, and when they do, it causes them to lose their minds. But just like you can pray for Anton and see a difference in the natural, you can see miracles in the supernatural.”
Typically when we think of miracles, we think of physical miracles, and while those are real, it is also a miracle every time someone gives their life to Christ. Before that dream I could have said something to the effect of “Pray for people and you might see their lives changed” and I would not have been lying or disingenuous, but after the dream, I think I have come to a place of believing it more. Though it makes me highly uncomfortable to talk about this subject, the reason I am sharing this story now is for several reasons:
Our prayers for other people really can make a difference. People are having “heart attacks” these days. Various troubles in our society are causing them to “faint” in their faith. When troubles are many, it can be difficult to sustain one’s faith—Israel demonstrated this time and time again. After all, how insane would it be to see God perform the wonders He performed to get you out of Egypt (like He did for Israel), and then wonder if He could simply provide you with a meal to eat afterwards? Therefore, let’s pray that God would protect hearts from attack in the first place, that God would sustain believers in their faith.
Secondly, people are losing their minds, but it’s not impossible for their minds to come back to them, even if they seem to be dead, and they’ve ceased breathing in the sense that the Spirit (the Pneuma or Breath of God) has gone out of them. If they are still alive, then God in His mercy has had mercy on them. Let us not write them off as hopeless cases. Instead, let’s ask God to turn them about and cause them to return to Him, and for our parts, let us pray that just because lawlessness has increased that our love would not grow cold toward others.
People might really bother you, but this could be meant for good. In Acts 16 Paul was so annoyed by a demon-possessed girl he drove the demon out of her. In Acts 17 Paul was “provoked” to missionary action while surveying the countless idols in Athens. Let provocations in your soul drive you to act on behalf of others if God is so calling you. Loving people need not always spring from flowery emotions—it might come from perturbation.
Sometimes you might wake up in the middle of the night quite troubled. This might be anxiety, and you might just need to go back to sleep, but sometimes it’s a call to prayer. Paul spoke of having sleepless nights as well as a burden for all the churches, and though he never connected those two thoughts, it’s possible he was up praying for people. Jesus we know for certain spent whole nights in prayer. So be it then for us if God wakes us in the night to pray for His people.
Finally, while I do not say dreams should be something we always or even usually pay attention to, I do think God speaks through them. I did not learn anything new, and nothing that came to me in my dream contradicted anything in all of Scripture. However, it did hearten me to follow God more closely and to intercede for others with greater belief and fervency before. If it spurs us toward loving Him and others and growing in personal holiness, I find little reason to doubt their validity.
Therefore, let us pray and work to protect hearts, to help people regain their minds and lives, and turn people back to Christ.