“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; it shall yet come to pass that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also” (Zechariah 8:20, 21).
“Your mission, if you choose to accept it…” was a pivotal line in every episode of the old television show, Mission Impossible. Jim Phelps was given the specifics of that week’s top secret undertaking and the recorded voice gave him an implied choice in the matter.
The Church of God of Prophecy has a mission. Do you know what it is? “Empowered by the Holy Spirit, through prayer, we will plant churches and equip leaders to carry out the biblical mandate to make genuine disciples of all the people of the world, to the glory of Christ our Lord, head of the church.” That is our mission statement. We each have a part to play in carrying it out. Some are planting churches and making disciples, but all are called to prayer.
Jesus said, “Men ought to keep on praying and not give up” (Luke 18:1). We ought to pray. But too often we don’t. F. B Meyer said, “The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” And those who do pray, often give up too soon. Jesus knows we are prone to discouragement when the answers to our prayers are not immediate. He followed His “don’t give up” instruction in Luke with this story:
Jesus said, “In a certain city lived a judge who didn’t respect God or worry about what men thought. There was a widow in that city who repeatedly came to him, saying, ‘I have been treated unfairly by someone and I want you to make it right.’ He did nothing for a while; but later on, he said to himself, ‘I don’t care what God or anybody else thinks, but this widow keeps on bothering me so I will punish the guy who mistreated her. Otherwise, she will nag and nag me until it wears me out.’ Then the Lord said, “Did you hear what that crooked judge said? Don’t you think a good and loving God will intervene for His own children when they are crying out day and night to Him? You think He takes too long? I assure you, He will help them quickly.”
Charles Spurgeon had something to say about that kind of persistent prayer: “Faith uses pleas. Those who merely say a prayer, do not to pray at all, for they forget to argue with God; but those who prevail bring forth their reasons and their strong arguments.” We must keep on praying and not give up.
How important is it that we pray? Think about this: The Temple, God’s house in the Old Testament, was built following extremely specific instructions. In verse after verse, chapter after chapter, God communicated the exact dimensions, furnishings, colors, and fabrics to be used in the Temple. God’s house was important to Him. And constructing God’s house precisely as He directed was important to David and Solomon and all of Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus gives the only instructions describing His house. He said, “My house is the house of prayer.” More than purple drapes and gold chords, pillars and candlesticks, God’s house must be adorned with the beauty and splendor of fervent prayer. Prayer is important to God. Prayer must be important to us.
“Teach us to pray, Lord,” the disciples requested. Oh, that we would passionately desire to effectively pray for the rule of God in our lives and in the world! Let us provoke each other to the good work of prayer. Zechariah 8:21 prophesies that people will one day say to each other, “Come on! Let’s all go now to pray. I’m going!” Let us all commit ourselves to a lifestyle of unceasing, fervent, militant intercession; praying in agreement with Jesus. “To pray in Jesus’ name means to pray in His spirit, in His compassion, in His love, in His outrage, in His concern. In other words, it means to pray a prayer Jesus would pray” (Kenneth L. Wilson). Jesus prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” Are we praying in Jesus’ name? Nineteenth century clergyman and poet, Richard C. Trench said, “Prayer is not getting man’s will done in heaven, but getting God’s will done on earth. It is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of God’s willingness.”
And so, we commit ourselves to a revival of prayer. We must avail ourselves of as much instruction as possible and find many opportunities to pray, until our churches are known as houses of prayer and all of us, people of prayer. We will pray until the work of the Holy Spirit is evident in salvations, miracles, healings, and deliverances; where supernatural ministry is manifested so that it spills over into the community. We will pray until the signs follow us (see Mark 16:17, 18).
Miracles happen when God’s people pray. A woman I know very well shared this story with me: “When the children were little, my husband started a new job. It was days before he would get paid and there was no food in the house. I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. ‘These babies need milk, Lord. We’re depending on You.’ Before I got up from praying, there was a knock at the door. Standing there was Eunice Moore from church. ‘I don’t even know if you need these, but the Lord told me to bring you groceries and a gallon of milk.’ God heard me and sent her to help us!”
I know personally about the miracle-working power of prayer. Prayer saved my life. In January 2010, I was dying. Doctors called my family in and told them I had no chance living through the night. My husband, mother, and friends who were in the room immediately began praying. Then each of them got busy calling other people—some knew me, some did not—to pray. I lived! I was healed by God and have worked, preached, and lived a happy life since that miracle. Thank God people prayed.
We must pray! For ourselves, for others, and for revival in the nations. Throughout history, when God was up to something, He preceded it with a call to prayer. D.L Moody said, “Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.” The Welsh Revival, the campaigns of Jonathan Edwards, Azusa Street, the Shearer Schoolhouse revival and many momentous outpourings interspersed through the centuries came about because earnest people gathered for concerts of prayer. A world-wide prayer movement is, once again, saturating Christianity. We must move where God is moving. We must communicate a sense of urgency and charge into this end-time prayer movement. Bible prophecy has already told us a great harvest is to come. We will only be ready if we are praying.
James 5:16 tells us “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs, “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Timothy 2:8 is clear. “Everyone, everywhere should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.”
We have a mission. And we have a choice. We must choose to accept it.
-Marsha Robinson, Cleveland, Tennessee
As published in the January 2018 issue of the White Wing Messenger
As published in the book “The Last Great Conflict.”
As it is our desire and purpose for this book to stimulate and inspire its readers to redouble their energy and efforts to forward the Gospel and win the victory in this last great conflict, we feel it would hardly be complete without a chapter on prayer.
Prevailing prayer implies and embodies all works, as the seed embodies the trunk, root, branches, flowers, and fruitage of the tree.
The history of piety is the history of prayer. All piety and successful Christian work begins, continues, and ends with prayer. From the offering of Abel’s acceptable sacrifice down to the present moment, all blessings of grace have been bestowed in answer to the triple intercessions of the Son of God, the Holy Spirit and believing souls.
The angel said to Jacob (Genesis 32:28), “As a prince hast thou power with God and with men and hast prevailed.” If, by the effort of prayer, we may prevail, both with God and with men, is there anything else we can do in life which, in importance and power, is equal to prayer? On the day of Pentecost the preacher and the whole church being full of faith, the Holy Ghost, and power, in answer to the prayer of faith, one sermon resulted in the conversion of three thousand souls. Today three thousand sermons without this power in answer to prayer, would not save one sinner. The more of churches and sermons we have without prayer that brings an enduement of power, the worse are we off. They are a savor of death unto death, and as someone has said: “If there was a religion today that had the doctrine and all the ordinances of the New Testament, and yet, without the baptism of the Holy Ghost, it would not be Christianity.”
Because of the interests pending, and the power God has placed at the disposal of him who prays, the most interesting sight in this world is a man in the act of prayer. The angels of God look with wonder, and the Lord of angels bends from His lofty throne and exclaims, “Behold, he prayeth!”
God has revealed the necessity of prayer and its almost unlimited power. “Ask and it shall be given you.” “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” Prayer is intimately associated with man’s salvation, and without it we cannot be saved.
How much in Christian experience and Christian labor, depends on prayer! Without prayer for the power of the Holy Ghost to attend the truth preached, the Word will be a dead letter. “The letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life.” No wonder there are so many dead formal churches. It is the unction that makes the preacher.
How did Fletcher and Finney get this unction? By praying without ceasing, by pleading, wrestling, and prevailing at a throne of grace. All great soul winners have conquered on their knees. Without prevailing prayer the meetings become as cold as death, and the churches will dwindle and become extinct. What is wanting in so many instances, is the power of the Holy Ghost to move and act in answer to the effectual, fervent prayer of the saints of God.
The Spirit of God is the great agent, who is the source of all vitality and power in every service. His life and power are given in answer to the prayer of faith, and never otherwise. How did the early church get such great power? What could they have done without it? What did they do with it? What can we do without it? A writer says of the sainted Bramwell: “I attribute the greater portion of his success in the ministry to his diligence and prayer.”
As we advance, we see in prayer the great means for obtaining strength and wisdom for our work in the Lord’s service. As we understand this subject, we will see more and more that intercessory prayer is the most important and the most real work the Christian has to do. “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 22:30, 31). What a responsible position we occupy! To stand in the gap in intercessory prayer for the salvation of souls, to keep off the wrath of God is the need of the hour.
Prevailing prayer leads us into a holy and intimate nearness to God. It is the only way to God, the only medium of communion with Him. Prevailing with God is the secret of prevailing with men and must precede it. On what we transact with God at a throne of grace depends what we may accomplish with men. We may pray, sing, and preach until we drop in our graves, but until we prevail, all will go for nothing. It is one thing to pray, and another thing to prevail in prayer.
Esau was conquered while Jacob wrestled until the break of day. The lions’ mouths were closed while Daniel was on his knees. Elijah prayed, “And it rained not for the space of three years and six months.” He prayed again, “and it came to pass, in the meanwhile, that the heavens were black with clouds, and wind, and there was a great rain.” When the Israelites had made them a golden calf and worshipped it, God determined to destroy them, and said to Moses. “I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: Now, therefore, let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord, his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people? . . . Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people . . . And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” But for the prayer of Moses, God would have annihilated the whole nation instead of cutting off but a few thousand of the idolaters. Strange as it may seem, yet the life of a nation depended on the prayer of faith offered by Moses.
“Oh, wonderful power of faithful prayer!
What tongue can tell the almighty grace?
God’s hands are bound or open are,
As Moses or Elijah prays!
Let Moses in the Spirit groan; And God cries out, ‘Let me alone.’ ”
When Haman sought revenge on all the Jews in all the realms of Ahasuerus because of the insult tendered him by Moredecai the Jew and when it was decreed by the king that all the Jews should be put to death, Mordecai informed queen Esther of the bloody plot; and the queen bade Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me; and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise, and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”
When the Jews had thus, for three days and nights, fasted and prayed, God answered and delivered them, and destroyed their enemy. He who prays in faith enlists almighty God, all the armies of heaven, and every law of the universe in the interest of his cause.
Strange as it may seem, nevertheless, the eternal salvation of the lost depends on God’s people at a throne of grace. It is in answer to prevailing prayer that power is given to move the lost to accept Christ. Peter was released from prison while the church at Jerusalem were on their knees. It was the power of the Holy Ghost, given in answer to the prayer of faith, that made the truth in Peter’s sermon, on the day of Pentecost, effectual in the conviction and conversion of three thousand souls. Without this power in answer to prayer, the multitude would have remained unmoved, except that probably they would have become so enraged that Peter would have lost his life. The prayer of faith brought a power that enchained the rabble and subdued the otherwise invincible.
It was the power of God that came while Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God, that made the earth quake and sinners tremble, and that opened the prison door and wicked hearts as well. The power that did these things centuries ago, can do the same today. This power is given to us in answer to the prayer of faith.
The Syro-Phoenician woman, whose daughter was a demoniac, cried out of her maternal heart: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David, . . . Lord help me!” To which Christ responded, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. The all important thing for that mother to do was to believe—prevail.
The all important thing for us to do in these days, is to believe— to have great faith in God, and this comes of great praying.
The death warrant of “Bloody Mary” was signed in heaven, while John Knox was on his knees, saying: “Give me Scotland or I die.” When that wicked ruler said: “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than I fear all the armies of Europe,” she paid the finest tribute to the power of prayer to be found on the pages of history. The Emperor of Germany resolved to proclaim religious toleration throughout his realm, while Martin Luther and some of his helpers were on their knees, when Luther exclaimed, “Deliverance has come! Deliverance has come!”
Without the quickening and convicting operations of the Holy Ghost, the sinner will not, cannot come to God. These operations of the Holy Ghost are conditioned on the faith of the children of God. As the saints prevail with God for the convicting power of the Holy Ghost upon sinners, the responsibility for the salvation of sinners is transferred from the Christians to sinners themselves. Only where Christians have done their utmost is the responsibility entirely transferred to sinners. Then how great, how charming the responsibility of Christians! Then how important this subject of prayer in this time of the last great conflict!
As priests, we must go into the holy of holies of God’s presence by the way of prayer, and receive “all the fullness of God” ourselves, and answer for the salvation of others and then return to the people with a blessing for them. Christ spent a whole night on the mountain in prayer, that the next day He might return “in the power of the Spirit” with great blessings for the people.
How marvelous the power the church may wield at the throne of grace to move the “Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers into His vineyard,” to carry “this Gospel of the kingdom in all the world for a witness” in this generation! The gathering of the harvest depends on prayer. How solemn the thought! How almost overwhelming the sense of responsibility that thrills the soul of him who understands the power of prayer and is in sympathy with a lost race in its paramount peril, and with Him who “gave His life a ransom for all” as he lifts his eyes and sees “the fields already white unto the harvest!”
No subject equals in importance this subject. By prayer we receive of God’s life and take on His character. We become like those with whom we have continuous and loving fellowship.
“We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” We now behold Him in the Gospel glass face to face, and are “changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” “As He (Jesus) prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering.” And the fashion of our countenances will be changed as we draw near to God in prayer.
Then pray for Jesus’ sake! Pray for the salvation of the lost! Pray for your own present good and eternal glory! Pray now, while we are in this last great conflict, for by prayer only will the victory be won and the conflict ended and Jesus reign supreme. Pray! Pray!! Pray!!!