Excerpt: What was the secret of Brother Bryan’s ministry? By all accounts, it was the spirit and practice of prayer. Hunter B. Blakely, whose book, Religion in Shoes, tells the story of Bryan’s life, reports that “Let us pray” were the words most frequently upon the lips of this beloved pastor. “No man has ever believed more implicitly in prayer than he, and never were prayers more unconventional. Prayer seems to him as natural as for a man to breathe the air. Why not, he would reason, for is God not the most real thing in the universe?”
Brother Bryan was a promiscuous pray-er who prayed with thousands in hospitals, prisons, and halfway houses. He prayed with countless others at weddings and funerals, over the telephone, on the sidewalk, in the mills and factories of the city, and in his pastor’s study, which was known as Birmingham’s “confessional.” It was said that “the fragrance of his prayer life permeated the whole city.” His prayers were often short and to the point, but they were more than pious platitudes. He knew that prayer was a vital component of what St. Paul called “the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11). Every prayer involved spiritual combat, and one of his most characteristic prayers was this one: “O Lord, help us to fight the devil!”
One of the most interesting prayer stories from Brother Bryan’s life came from one Thursday night when he was walking home alone after dark. Suddenly, a man jumped out of an alley, pushed a gun into his face, and said, “Hands up.” Brother Bryan complied as the man rifled through his pockets, taking his watch and the little cash he had on him. When the robbery was done and before the thief could depart, he heard the minister say, “Brother, let us pray.” As Brother Bryan prayed, the thief lowered his gun and placed the watch and stolen money back into the hands of his victim.
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