“Lord, teach us to pray…”
In a Texas church, a large consortium of its members wipe the sleep from their eyes, grab a cup of java and gather for prayer every Monday through Friday at 5:00 a.m. The church has grown from 13 to over 1,000 in just eight years. When asked about the tremendous growth, the pastor said, “I didn’t start a church, I started a prayer meeting.”
Just like Jerusalem, circa AD30.
In South Korea today is a church that has swelled to nearly 50% of its country’s population. Each month, 12,000 people are added to its membership through conversion growth. How, you ask? Pastor David Yongii Cho informs the curious that it is due in large part to ceaseless prayer. The church members typically go to bed early so they can rise at 4:00 a.m. for united prayer. Every Friday night is also devoted to all-night prayer.
J. Sidlow Baxter, renowned pastor in England, said at age 85: “I have pastored only three churches in my more than 60 years in ministry. We had revival in every one. And not one of them came as a result of my preaching. They came as a result of the membership entering into a covenant to pray until revival came. And it did come. Every time.”
In the Book of Acts there are 36 references to the church growing. Twenty-one of those times—58%—it is directly attributable to prayer.
Over a hundred years ago, John R. Mott led a student revival known as the “Student Christian Movement” where college students surrendered all they were and had to the mission of God for their lives. In thirty years, this little prayer movement supplied 20,000 career missionaries!
Hudson Taylor told of a missionary couple who had ten mission stations in China and none of them were growing and seeing conversions. They wrote to their sending church and asked for intercessors for their ten stations. In a short while, seven of the ten stations saw opposition wane, strongholds fall and conversions spread like wildfire. When the couple went home to England on furlough, they discovered that only SEVEN intercessors were recruited for their endeavors!
Matthew Henry wrote, “When God intends great mercy for His people, He first sets them to praying.”
In the 1700s, a wealthy German by the name of Zinzendorf was moved greatly by a painting of Christ’s crucifixion bearing the caption: “All this I have done for thee; what have you done for Me?” This seminal moment compelled him to give his entire estate and life for the purpose of prayer and to raise up a generation of intercessors for the Lord’s glory. Many came and lived on his estate and prayed every day of the week, twenty-four hours a day. Over time, succeeding generations took up the call and the prayer movement lasted 125 years—the longest sustained prayer meeting in history.
In modern times—our time—a couple of college grads were camping off the coast of Portugal and seeking the Lord together for His plan and purpose in their lives. One man, Pete Greig, was praying for the nations one night when the Lord visited him with a vision of faceless throngs of young people, like an army from every nation, rising up awaiting orders from their Commander on High.
For nine years, nothing happened. Greig began to question God, “Where is that army, Lord?” Some days later he was speaking to a thousand young people gathered for prayer and it dawned on him as they sent up collective war cries for the nations, this was the very city he had earlier expressed doubts as he asked “Where is that army, Lord?” His spirit emboldened, he was witnessing the calling forth of that very army!
Out of that has grown a revival of prayer unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Right now in every nation is an army of young folk devoted to praying for souls in a 24/7 movement of intercession (read “Red Moon Rising” by Pete Greig and Dave Roberts for more…)!
We can never, ever, underestimate the supreme power of prayer when it bleeds and pleads the very heart of God. God’s people, once having been set to prayer for their social conditions, have witnessed the changing of the tide in many of their social blights:
- Abolition of slavery
- Prison reform
- Exploitation of women and children in coal mines
- Improved nursing care
- Raising up charitable endeavors for the poor
- Rescuing the working poor from 16-hour, 7-day workweeks
- Removal of despots and raising up of godly leaders
All this is to say that we cannot expect a visitation from God until we are willing to “pray the price of prayer”, unless our thirst for God through prayer exceeds all other appetites, and we are first known as a praying people (1 Timothy 2:1). How much is lost to the enemy because we do not look first, last and in-between to the Face of our Lord as our Shield, Portion and Deliverer? Oh, Mighty Man of War, move in us to seek You…
“You said, ‘Seek My Face’…Your Face, Lord, will I seek.”
R.A. Torrey, successor to D.L. Moody, said a hundred years ago:
“We live in a day characterized by the multiplication of man’s machinery and the diminution of God’s power. The great cry of the day is work! work! work! organize! organize! organize! Give us some new society! Tell us some new methods! But the great need of our day is prayer, more prayer and better prayer.”
We hear the same stuff today, don’t we? And then some. Even more looking to government and human genius to deliver us from our woes. Our churches, too, have joined the fellowship of the disinterested and have let the coals fade into graying ash. God, stir us! Ignite us! Raise up Your intercessors who will give all and look only to You as their satisfaction and supply. Lord, teach us to pray? No! Lord, MOVE us to pray. We already know how. Shake us until we are willing to pray the price.