When I am completely honest, I have to admit that I have not responded well or consistently.
At the University of Maryland, I began to see the difference that radical, extraordinary prayer could make. One year we started a prayer room on campus and students would drop in on that room through out the day before, after or in between their classes and pray for their friends and the advance of the gospel on campus. Over a four year period, literally 100’s of students placed their faith in Christ and began the process of learning how to follow Him. Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU) grew from 9 to over 350 students. Navigators, InterVarsity, the Baptist Student Union, TAG (Take and Give), and half a dozen other ministries on campus all grew at an extraordinary pace. God answered our prayers.
In 1976 I was on a beach project with CRU in Wildwood, New Jersey. Thirty students from around the country descended on the the city of Wildwood, got jobs, studied the Scripture together and went out to do evangelism every night. During that time, based on what I had seen at Maryland, I organized a prayer room that prayed through the summer for the effectiveness of the project.
The room was a dingy shed on the property of the house we were renting for the summer project. It was hot, dusty, and uncomfortable. But it was the place that students from the project would walk into and pray when they weren’t at work and had a spare moment. It was also a place were each of us had an assigned time. We simply prayed.
And we saw extraordinary things take place not only in conversions to Christ but in personal spiritual growth, and the conquering of sinful habits and patterns.
I don’t understand prayer.
God knows everything. He knows the words I will use and the sentences I will compose in my prayers. He knows what, and when, and how He will answer each and every care and concern of my heart. Which raises the question, “why pray if God already knows what we are going to say and how He is going to answer?”
The Scripture’s answer is because God commands it; He expects it; and Jesus Himself modeled it. And though I don’t understand how it all works, that ought to be enough.
Here’s what I do understand.
God’s brokers what He is doing in the world through believing prayer. Whenever God wants to do a mighty work, He moves the people of God to seek Him in concentrated, extraordinary prayer. The record of revivals both in the Scripture and in history is that great movements of God are always preceded by mighty movements of prayer.
Which comes first, the prayer or the revival?
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?
I think it is the chicken!
When we get on our knees and cry out to God, then, and only then, He lets Himself be found by us (2 Chronicles 15:2, 4) and our lives are renewed with a new vision of His holiness and plan that purifies our petty jealousies and grievances and allows the Spirit full reign in our lives.
Men and women, let’s pray.