Chapter OneGod Calls You to Prayer
God has a wonderful plan by which you can have world-wide
influence. This plan is not just for a chosen few. It is for you. Let
me tell you about it.
Through prayer you can stand beside Billy Graham as he
preaches in crusades anywhere in the world. You can strengthen
him, bless him, lift him up at the very moment he is bringing
the Good News to thousands. Through prayer you can stand
beside Luis Palau in his Latin American crusades. Through
prayer you can stand beside George Beverly Shea as he sings the
Through prayer you can accompany any missionary to remote
reaches of the earth. Through prayer you can walk through
crowded bazaars, minister in steaming jungles, feed millions of
starving men, women, and children, hungry for bread for their
bodies and for the Bread of Life.
Through prayer you can contribute to the ministry of any
pastor or evangelist in a church or gospel hall anywhere in the
world. Many a time I have felt that through prayer I was at the
side of some man or woman of God.
Through prayer you can take a suffering infant in your arms.
Through prayer you can touch a fevered brow in any hospital,
mediating the healing love of Jesus.
God has given you a way to make your presence count, a
way to be a true partner in His kingdom's work, if you really
want to be.
True, there have been outstanding praying saints over the
centuries. By no means do we forget them or the tremendous
history-changing role they played through prayer. Thank God
for James, the half-brother of Jesus, who spent the latter years of
his life praying for the churches God was raising up. When he
died and his body was prepared for burial, it was found that his
knees were so calloused from hours and hours of kneeling that
they almost resembled the knees of a camel. He became known
as "Camel-knees." Thank God for Savonarola in fifteenth-century
Italy, who prayed down revival in that corrupt age.
Thank God for Brainerd, missionary to the American Indians,
and his life of prayer and tears. Thank God for "Praying Hyde,"
the missionary to India, who was perhaps the greatest prayer
warrior of this century.
But God does not depend solely on a few staunch saints. He
has planned for ordinary Christians like you and me to become
mighty in prayer for the blessing and salvation of people and the
reaping of Christ's harvest among the nations today.
There is no reason in the world why you cannot become so
steadfast in your personal prayer life that Christ will count on
you to help build His church and advance His kingdom in many
parts of the world. Beginning with your family, your church, and
your community, you can play a significant part through normal
daily prayer that will make a difference, even in distant lands.
Again and again God has used persons like you and me to
help Him meet special emergency prayer needs on a particular
day or occasion. When He calls on someone for this special and
temporary role, He usually selects one of His children who has
been praying faithfully and consistently.
You don't have to spend hours each day to qualify for
God's prayer army. Thank God for those who can and do pray
like that. But He knows the limitations of your own situation,
your schedule, your home and employment responsibilities. His
plan is intended to add a whole new dimension to your prayer
life. Whether you are a business executive or a housewife, a
factory worker or a student, a layman or a minister of the
gospel-God desires for you to begin a thrillingly new and
more effective life of prayer.
I do not claim to have a magic formula to transform you into
a spiritual giant overnight. But I do want to point out the possibilities
of this simple plan as outlined in the Bible. You can have
new power and effectiveness in prayer. You can play a significant
part in Christ's plan. You can be the praying person God wants
you to be-you can, if you will. Will you try?
God's Wonderful Plan for You
God has great expectations for you and me. He has every
right. The average person has more ability to influence others
today than ever before. This is especially true for Christians. Billy
Graham has said he would rather be alive today than to have
lived when Jesus was on earth. I fully agree. The average Christian
can have a greater influence for God than the average Christian
of any previous generation.
This is an exciting time in our history. More believers are living
today than at any other time. Christ's church has spread into
more areas of the world, praises God each week in more languages,
and is witnessing to or is in contact with more people
than ever before. There are more gospel workers, more local
churches, more Bible training institutions, more Christian organizations,
and more missionary societies.
Through the tremendous media of radio, television, and literature
we have the facilities to speed up God's work beyond
anything we have yet known. We can reach the farthest nations
more quickly, we can present the gospel in more languages, and
we have the means to recruit and guide prayer for the whole
world more efficiently. We can reach our world, if we will. The
greatest lack today is not people or funds. The greatest need is
prayer. Without increasing the number of Christian workers or
their financial support, we could see multiplied results if we
would only multiply prayer.
Prayer is the greatest resource of the church. It is the most
effective means of preparing the way of the Lord available to us
as Christians today. You yourself can influence more people for
God and have a greater role in advancing Christ's cause by prayer
than in any other way. It is not the only thing you must do, but
it is the greatest thing you can do. It has often been said,
The Devil trembles when he sees
God's weakest child upon his knees.
If that is true, think what could happen if every Christian really
took his prayer role seriously and began to pray regularly and
specifically, uniting with thousands or millions of others, all praying
for the same priority needs around the world. Are you willing
to be a part of such a prayer army?
The Urgency of Your Prayer Now
God's timetable of the ages may be rapidly nearing the
countdown toward Christ's return. God's great plan, for which
He created the world and man, has been delayed and frustrated
by the long reign of sin and Satan since Adam's fall. But according
to the Bible, the delay of Christ's return is not so much
because God is patiently waiting for the world to repent as
because He is patiently waiting for us to lead them to repentance
(2 Peter 3:9). This is further emphasized by the fact that, of all
the conditions and signs that must precede Christ's coming, perhaps
only one remains to be fulfilled: "This gospel of the kingdom
will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all
nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14).
We do not know what in God's view constitutes adequate
witness to the comparatively unreached nations, but by means of
radio we are today able to beam the gospel message to practically
every corner of the earth. Millions unreached by resident missionaries
have access to the gospel through missionary radio. Virtually
every province and village in China has been covered in
this way. Millions of others in Russia, Albania, and the Muslim
lands are known to be listening to Christian messages, broadcast
in their own language or in one that may be understood in part.
It is always far more effective when people can hear the
gospel in their mother tongue. Although it has been reliably estimated
that 95 percent of the people of the world now have available
to them some portion of the Scripture printed in a language
known to them, may God speed the efforts of those giving their
lives to completing the task of putting Scripture into all remaining
dialects and languages. In addition, Gospel Recordings reports
that Christian music has been recorded in more than 4,362 of
these dialects and languages.
Delivering the gospel message to every human being is not
enough, however. The crucial factor is assuring that the message
will be understood and accepted. Prayer is the answer. The
Holy Spirit is given as God's people ask (Luke 11:13).
Undoubtedly this is not only true when we ask for ourselves,
but also when we ask for others. So the effectiveness of present
mission efforts depends on our prayer, enabling the Holy Spirit
to work in power.
In other words, the key to world evangelization, thus clearing
the way for Christ's return, may be your prayer and mine. If
the main delaying factor is lack of prayer, do not be surprised if
God makes special provision for prayer to be more effective
today than ever before.