A Call to Prayer
“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 60’s 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 stated 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.” We each have a part to play in carrying out this mission. Some are planting churches and making disciples, but all are called to prayer.
During the 2012 International Assembly, the Church was presented a challenge. Strategic goals were offered outlining practical ways to see our Holy Spirit-inspired core values fully realized. One of those strategic goals was to make prayer the priority and core value in each local church.
Jesus said, “Men ought to keep on praying and not give up” (Luke 18:1). We ought to pray, Jesus said so. 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 that we are prone to discouragement when the answers to our prayers are not immediate, so he followed His “Don’t give up” instruction with this story:
“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 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: Jesus said, “My house is the house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13; Luke 19:46). Nowhere else in Scripture does Jesus tell us what His house should look like. In the Old Testament, verse after verse, chapter after chapter outlines what the Old Covenant “house of God” must look like. But in this New Covenant Jesus made with us, the only description of the house of God is this: “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 as the prophecy in Zechariah 8 says. “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 that Jesus himself might pray” (Kenneth L. Wilson). Jesus prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” 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 the working of 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 (Mark 16:17, 18).
Miracles happen when God’s people pray. Jeremiah Barker of Abingdon, Illinois, was in a terrible car wreck and near death. His family prayed and he survived to tell of the miracle working power of God. Michael Payne from Grant, Alabama, was diagnosed with a back condition and in excruciating pain. His pastor prayed for him to be healed and God did it. Both of their stories are told in the January 2013 Messenger. A family in Florida found themselves in a new city where they had relocated to find work. Soon, there was no food in the house and it would be days before the husband would receive a paycheck from his new job. The young mother looked into the faces of her two small children and did the only thing she knew to do. She prayed. “These babies need milk, Lord. We’re depending on You.” Before she could get up from her knees, there was a knock at the door. Standing there was a woman from her church. “I don’t even know if you need these, but the Lord told me to bring these groceries and this gallon of milk to you.”
We must pray for individual needs and we must pray 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 revivals 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 that 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.