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Preacher stresses importance of prayer

NORTH TONAWANDA -- A Midwestern basketball coach-turned-preacher brought a message about the importance of prayer last week to First Baptist Church.

Evangelist Norm Sharbaugh of Brownsburg, Ind., spoke in the Meadow Drive church on four days, using his Wednesday evening session to stress the need for prayer.

Often times prayer is the last thing people turn to when they need help, when it should be the first, he said.

"We need to pour our hearts out to God," said Sharbaugh, who coached basketball at Aquinas College in Michigan and taught in a Catholic high school in that state.

Sharbaugh used snippets of his personal life to strengthen his message, including a story about how his own prayers led to him getting his car.

He had been without a car for seven months, praying to God from December until June for a new one.

In June, a couple called him asking if he needed a vehicle and if he wanted one of their three.

He was thankful for the car, which had 76,000 miles on it already.

"That's just broken in for me," he said.

The way people pray is also very important, according to Sharbaugh, who said many people don't pray the way they should.

God, who commands that we pray, wants his faithful flock to be intense and persistent, he said.

To illustrate his point, Sharbaugh talked about how his cat, Mama Kitty, had been tracking a mouse outdoors, but the mouse escaped and hid below some concrete.

He left the cat, headed into a nearby building for a couple hours to work on his preaching.

When he came out, Mama Kitty was still there waiting for the mouse to appear.

That's the way God's followers should act, he said.

Still, Sharbaugh assured those that even though prayer is needed, things aren't always as bad as we may perceive.

It's also easy to be saved.

"Going to heaven is just a prayer away," he said.

An evangelist for 39 years, Sharbaugh has authored three books, including "Ammunition: for Piercing the Armor of the Philosophy of Evolution." He has also written a book with his wife, Teri.

Kurt Coffed of Corfu, the North Tonawanda church's interim pastor, said he believes prayer has been made trite in today's world.

The power of prayer isn't fully appreciated, even though there is an "amazing need" for it now, Coffed said.

e-mail: abesecker@buffnews.com

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