The Bible tells us prayer is a crucial habit for Christians who want to walk in the will of God.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV).
But this doesn’t mean we as believers never face moments of discouragement, moments when prayer can seem more like a chore than a delight. When life seems like one battle after another, it’s easy to feel like we have so little to offer, especially in prayer.
That’s exactly where Gospel singer Ivan Parker found himself this past year. He felt discouraged, as though he had hit rock bottom.
The popular music artist has seen God do incredible things through his ministry as a result of prayer. After all, his mother raised him to seek God in every decision he made.
But when the pandemic hit the U.S. and people went into quarantine, Parker’s ministry had to scale back with far fewer concerts. While he was happy to prioritize people’s safety, it also meant his main source of income took a big hit.
Parker made a living off of encouraging people in the Lord through music. But now where would that living come from?
In the middle of that stress, Parker’s office received a phone call. It was a man—someone Parker didn’t know—who said he was discouraged and would really appreciate it if Parker could call him back and talk to him.
“I was thinking, I am so stressed right now. I’m going through the toughest part of this journey. I’ve never experienced anything like this. I don’t even know if I’m going to have a ministry—thinking all these things the devil wants you to think,” Parker recalls.
And yet somehow, he was supposed to call someone and lift their spirits?
“But I said to myself, ‘I have to do what the Lord wants me to do, and that would be to call this guy and somehow muster up enough encouragement that I can encourage somebody else,” he says.
So Parker picked up the phone, called the man he didn’t know, and encouraged him as best he could. At the end of the call, he asked, “Can I pray for you?”
The man responded, “That would mean more to me than anything.”
Afterward, when Parker hung up the phone, he suddenly realized the Lord used that phone call to reveal a truth: His obedience in the midst of discouragement confirmed the call God placed on his life. When Parker didn’t have strength to fulfill that calling himself, God did the work through him.
“I never thought that I would be feeling rock bottom,” he says, “and then would have to reach out and actually give more—just give a little more. I’ve got more to give. And God gave it through me.”
Parker’s simple but heartfelt prayer at the end of his phone call meant the world to someone else facing a heartbreaking situation. He believes all Christians are called to these kinds of simple yet meaningful acts of faith.
Even when we feel empty, we have something to give—because we have Christ.
“The Lord runs a test on us every so often—if not to prove to Him who we are, I think it’s to prove it to ourselves,” Parker says.
Thankfully, as COVID-related restrictions begin to lessen, Parker is adding more concerts to his schedule. It’s yet another sign of God’s faithfulness to answer prayer.
One of those performances will be in September at the 40 Days & 40 Nights of Gospel Music event at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. The event—labeled the world’s largest Christian music festival—will feature dozens of Gospel artists and preachers.