Chuck Colson’s 1st Geniune Prayer
I have accepted Jesus Christ. I have committed my whole life to Him and it has been the most marvelous experience of my life.” The words by Tom Philips staggered Chuck Colson. Colson didn’t understand. Everyone knew Jesus Christ was dead two thousand years ago. Tom had more to say. “I had gotten to the point where I didn’t think my life was worth anything. Now everything is changed–attitudes, values the whole bit.” He would like to tell Colson the whole story, he said. To Colson it didn’t make sense. Tom was the successful president of Raytheon, a huge electronics firm in Massachusetts. What did he need religion for?
Chuck Colson was by then out of the White House, working for a law firm. Accused in the press of being one of the central figures of the Watergate mess, he would later prove to have had less to do with it than the rest of the principal actors. At the time stories were still leaking out. Falsehoods were printed about him in the press. Hours of testimony loomed before him. Facing all this, he could not forget Tom’s peace and his own inner ache.
On this day, Sunday August 12, 1973, Chuck Colson sat again in Tom Philip’s house. Sipping tea together, Tom hit at Colson kindly but honestly. The whole White House staff had put their trust in themselves. They had tried to destroy their political enemies because they had no faith in their cause or in God. Colson felt the words were true. He respected Tom too much to doubt his sincere concern.
When Tom began to read aloud to him from C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity the words cut into Colson’s heart. He saw himself as a man of pride who had ruined his own life by his hubris. “How about it?” Tom asked Chuck. Chuck said he wasn’t ready yet. He had some hurdles to get over. He didn’t want a foxhole religion. Tom nodded and gave him the book. “Read it,” he suggested. “And read the gospel of John.” He read some psalms to Colson. The words seemed to come alive. And then Tom asked Chuck if he would like him to pray with him.
Tom Phillip’s prayer was so rich, so intimate that Chuck Colson felt the power and Spirit of Christ sweep over him. He had to fight back tears. God seemed to be sitting right beside him.
In his car, Colson found he couldn’t drive. Tears were pouring from his eyes. He started back to Tom’s house, but the lights went out. Sobbing uncontrollably, he turned on the car and drove a couple hundred feet. There he offered himself to God, admitting it wasn’t much of an offer. “Take me, take me,” he pleaded. For the first time in his life he felt he wasn’t alone. It was the beginning of a transformation which would lead him to found Prison Fellowship and make him a respected Christian author.
Dan Graves, MSL
- Colson, Chuck. Born Again. Tappan, New Jersey: Spire Books, 1977
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