Bestselling author and pastor Francis Chan boldly declared before a crowd of pastors at the Desiring God conference Tuesday that prayer is what differentiates Christians from the world and other religions, stating, "Our God listens to us."
During a session on "Prayer as a Way of Walking in Love," the passionate preacher shared to 1,600 pastors and ministers that his prayer life is so powerful in connecting him with God that it even rivals Scripture in stirring his affections for God.
"There are days I can't believe that God you love me that much. Are you kidding me? I know Jesus loves me because the Bible tells me so. But at this time in my life, I can know Jesus loves me because my prayer tells me so," said Chan.
The former California megachurch pastor said he is still amazed at the way God answered his prayers, even when it came to the "silly, little things."
He recalled the time he wanted to take his family on vacation but felt compelled to donate the money to those in need. After struggling with the topic in prayer, he later received a cashier's check in the mail for $2,000 with a sticky note telling him to spend it on his family. Another instance was when he secretly wanted a golf driver and unexpectedly received it as an honorarium gift after lecturing at a small church.
One notable experience, Chan recounted, occurred before he published his bestseller Crazy Love. He and his wife always wanted to be people who could "live generously" and just write checks to people. One day, he prayed that God would raise up wealthy people in his church that didn't care about their stuff. If that didn't happen, then Chan asked God to make his family rich so they could give their wealth away.
Little did Chan know that God would answer his prayer through his book Crazy Love, which brought in over $2 million in sales last year. He said all of the money goes to a fund that enables him to live out his dream of writing out checks.
"I had no idea. I didn't even think of making money off it," shared Chan. "My life is ridiculous. God, the way you answer my prayers."
Speaking on the story of Elijah, Chan said that prayer is what differentiates us from other religions.
"Our God listens to us," he said. "Our God is a living God. He's not a block of wood you made up that's not going to answer you. My God listens to me. He answers me."
Chan said that whenever he speaks with someone on a plane or elsewhere, he prays that God would show up in power, otherwise he would just sound just like someone from another religion or like a cult leader.
He urged pastors at the conference to seek being a prayerful person who can reveal the power of God, contending that unbelievers who visit their church are not looking for a "polished speech," a "braniac," or a "comedian," but someone who has a connection with God.
The popular preacher said the power of prayer is not just limited to the well-known figures in the Bible like Moses, Elijah or David, who the Bible says are just men of the same nature as people today.
"I could even argue that I have one up on him, because I have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit," said Chan.
He said that his biggest failure in ministry is when during his busy periods he turns his prayer life into a to-do list for God rather than a relationship of abiding in Christ and a relationship of love.
"My guess is many of you guys struggle, so focused on the work of God that you neglect the person of God. So much pressure, so much criticism. There are periods that we forget that in the pursuit of fruit, that if we just abide in Him then fruitfulness is a guarantee," reflected Chan.
Although many pastors believe that God is sovereign, that belief doesn't flesh out in their lives most of the time, he said.
"Are you about Him and do people see that in you? That you are man or woman who can't get enough of God?" asked Chan.
Chan's address was the third session in The Desiring God 2011 Conference for Pastors. This year's conference theme was "The Powerful Life of The Praying Pastor." The conference, which included lectures from John Piper, Joel Beeke, Paul Miller and Jerry Rankin, concludes Wednesday.