Sometimes we need God to thrust us into total helplessness to hear what he values most. One man experienced this lesson lying on his back for six weeks.

In  Isaiah 57:15 the Lord says, "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." This scripture applies well to Ben Patterson's painful health ordeal.

It was the spring of 1980 when it happened. Ben was an active, motivated minister, constantly putting himself to work at the tasks of building up the church. Then he suffered excruciating lower back pain: two herniated discs! The prescription was total bed rest. Yet because his bed was too soft, he was confined to lying on the floor for six weeks instead.

It was extremely humiliating, boring, and frustrating. He couldn't preach. He couldn't lead meetings. He couldn't visit people — or do any of the things he wanted to. All he could do was pray.

Each day he got out the church directory and prayed for every member of his church as he lay there flat on his back. But after awhile, the time spent on his back became sweet. When he recovered, he said to God, "Lord, this has been great, this praying. It's too bad I don't have time to do this when I go back to work."

Then he sensed the Lord saying to him, "Ben, you have the same 24 hours each day when you're weak as when you're strong. The difference is that when you're strong, you think you're in charge."

I hope Ben's story will remind us all that when we stay on our knees, we stop being "lords" and let Jesus be Lord of his church. And when he is Lord, there is power and their is fruit.

The difference is that when you're strong, you think you're in charge.
As Ben Patterson learned, "The good fruit visible in the church is planted in prayers prayed in weakness and in secret."

Each time he [God] said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)