We have just posted an updated version of a sermon called When God Prays for You. Here’s an excerpt:
"A friend gave me a tape of a speech Gary Olson made in April 1998. Gary was a former elder of the church I pastored in Oak Park, and for many years was the head football coach at Oak Park-River Forest High School. He made the speech eight months after his heart surgery in 1997 and a year and a half before his sudden death in November 1999. On the tape Gary is giving a short talk to a group of Christian coaches on the subject of handling the hard times of life. He began by mentioning his lung cancer in the early 1980s that led to his coming to Christ. Then in 1989 his wife Dawn was in a terrible accident that nearly took her life. Gary stepped down from coaching for a while so he could help her.
"The hardest blows came in 1997. In August of that year he collapsed during football practice and was taken to the hospital where the doctors discovered he had an enlarged heart. A few days later he had surgery to replace a defective heart valve. At about the same time he faced a crisis in his family. A month or so later his mother suddenly died of a brain hemorrhage. It seemed almost too much to bear. On the tape he said that he had called his pastor and asked, 'How should I pray?' His pastor told him to pray "Lord, have mercy. God, have mercy. Jesus, have mercy.' I was his pastor and also a very good friend. I smiled when I heard him tell the story because I had forgotten that phone call. Then it all came back to me. My answer was off the top of my head, but in retrospect it was perfectly biblical. There are many times in life when the only thing we can do is to cry out, 'God, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Jesus, have mercy.'"