There is a story told by Howard Hendricks (author and professor)… He walked into his class at seminary one day and said: “Gentlemen, I want to tell you something. My seventy-year-old father received Jesus Christ as his Savior. That might not be very meaningful to you until I also tell you that for forty years, I have every day prayed for his salvation. And after forty years, God finally said yes.”
Never mind the theology of whether it was God who was reluctant to say “yes” during that time or his father’s stubborn heart that caused the delay – the neat thing is that the Lord did answer his prayer and welcomed his father into the royal family and the body of Christ. Angels and the heavenly hosts held a party over one lost sinner saved. So did Howard Hendricks. But, 40 years of daily prayer is a long haul by anyone’s estimation.
How often have you given up praying for something – especially something you know is within the will of God as stated and outlined for us in His Word, our Bible? You prayed for a week or two and then simply gave up thinking either God was not listening or that He was saying ‘no’ to your request? How long after starting to pray did you begin to doubt and become double-minded and thus unable to receive anything from the Lord? (James 1) Or maybe you are one who in the heat of the moment pray for someone or something and then when the panic or the passion for that person or situation simmers down so does your motivation to pray. Is that you? Do you become bored because God is not answering you immediately as if He is there to serve you?
Or maybe you don’t understand that prayer is the way that God has chosen to work upon the earth. This is the way His will, His plans and purposes are released upon the planet. This is why He taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” With our consistent prayers God, in His timing, will release His perfect will and His plans and purpose for the person or situation we are praying for – IF we don’t lose heart and give up.
Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission, never stopped praying for the Chinese people. His son records that the sun never rose over China that it did not find his father on his knees praying for his people. And now tens of millions of Christians worship in this communist nation – the result of this man’s persistence.
One of the weakest areas of the church in North America is this whole area of prayer – individual and corporate. Prayer meetings are not popular nor well attended. We have seen the formation of many “houses of prayer” separate from the local church but the Lord said that it was His house (the local church) that was to be the house of prayer for all nations.
It is time that all of us as individual believers to re-establish an active, alive and dynamic prayer life first. Then, in the near future, come together in the local church and begin to seek God’s face and release God’s will for those you know and love who are still lost. Time for excuses to end. Time for God’s people to do what only we can do – pray in the powerful Name of Jesus and watch God move mountains as we do.