For more than 50 years he has been preaching, much of that in East Texas. 17 of those years Dr. Paul Powell led East Texas largest congregation at Tyler's Green Acres Baptist Church. In those five decades, Dr. Powell prayed for more people than he can even remember.
"Prayer is like connecting with god, with a power that is beyond ourselves, which we all desperately need at some time or other so its brought a sense of peace, comfort and assurance," says Powell. "And I think in particular when a preacher prays some people seem to think we have a special connection with God, we don't. Its available to anybody, anytime. But it helps for the preacher to pray for people and I've done it thousands and thousands of times"
Shortly before Thanksgiving two years ago, there came a time in this pastors life that the tables were turned. "No I haven't had any problems like that. I have had a lot of problems that I have prayed about," says Powell, "family problems, financial problems, and church problems but never so much praying for myself.
Doctors at Tyler's Mother Frances Hospital found blockage in ten arteries. Seven is the largest by-pass doctors will perform and that's what they did in Dr. Powell's case.
"The power of prayer I had always believed in, but suddenly here I was, the one needing to be prayed for...and I'm the one that needs some help and whose going to do that and there is a great army of people out there many of them I did not know until it was over," Powell remembers. "the Apostle Paul said in the Book of Corinthians, you helped me with your prayers. And that word help describes a group of workers who come along side a man and help him lift a load that he can't lift by himself. And I think in those days when I couldn't pray for myself that it was the prayers of other people that were lifting me up and sustaining me...and prayer got me through."
Two years later Dr. Powell is as active as ever...preaching in the pulpit hundreds of times a year and serving as Dan of the Truitt Seminary at Baylor University. Despite a lifetime of preaching and teaching... it was his real life experience he says that has given him a renew belief and faith in the power of prayer.
"I don't understand all that...but I tell you what I believe it works...it worked with me and I've been preaching it, but now I had it...I had...my own experience. I knew the power of prayer got me through.