I think that everyone will agree that there is nothing quite as essential to the whole enterprise of worldwide missions as is prayer – it is the very language of the Kingdom of God. Nowhere in the world is the need for intercessory prayer so obvious as on the mission field, on the front-lines and in the foxholes where spiritual warfare is not a theological argument but a stark reality.
God does not do anything if not in response to prayer. God has limited Himself to intervening in human affairs only at the request of man so as not to violate his free moral agency. Prayer frees the hand of God to operate on our behalf. It gives Him the legal “power of attorney” to confront the powers of evil and defeat them on our behalf, as we yield our freewill to Him and ask Him to intervene.
Prayer is not just a practice in religious asceticism. It is not just an exercise of reflective powers to help energize and/or relax the human body. Prayer is not a tool to which we can apply a logical equation and expect response in mathematical precision. It is not a pronunciation of magic (positive) words and formulas, even when taken from Scripture, in order to obligate and manipulate God subjugating Him to our human will and knowledge.
Prayer can elevate the soul so that it is in communion with Almighty God. Prayer is the key to the victorious life of the Christian. Prayer is the means by which we intervene on behalf of eternal souls and God’s servants who are giving their lives for that cause. Prayer is the admission of our human frailties and shortcomings but at the same time a powerful expression of our utter and total dependence on God. It is through prayer that we establish that relationship with God through the virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ, that from the moment we set our hearts to understand and humble ourselves He hears and answers.
There are many times on the mission field, in the heat of the battle, in times of life threatening sickness or danger, that no amount of money could bring the answer – only as God’s people set themselves to pray and intercede on our behalf did we gain the victory. When a pill had perforated the interior of my stomach and caused massive internal hemorrhaging and I had lost half of my blood, it was prayer that touched heaven on my behalf and God healed me! It again was prayer to which God responded and created the head of the femur (bone) to go into our daughter Ruthie’s hip socket when she was a baby and born without the bone properly formed. It was prayer that turned the fatal poison that our son Jonathan had swallowed when only 22 months old and neutralized its mortal effect so that it did not harm him at all. It was prayer that totally healed Paul of the crippling effects of infant arthritis.
The times that people have been killed and we have seen them die, on the freeways, on the sidewalk, by the anesthesia for a senseless operation, total destruction of buildings where we have been – destroyed terrorist bombs, through revolutions and uprisings, yet the merciful hand of God has spared us – it is because God’s people have upheld us in prayer. The people that have been saved, miraculously healed, cripples walked, demons cast out and souls set free. Prayer has always been the key!
As we ask you to approach the majestic throne room of God on our behalf, on behalf of lost souls and the sick and afflicted for which we request prayer, we remember that it is through the blood of Jesus Christ that we are justified and redeemed and gain the position in Christ as sons of God so that we can call out, “Abba, Father!” It is through that intimate relationship that we now have with the Father gained through the atonement of the blood of Jesus Christ, that the
Galatians 4:4-7 “ But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ” Abba , Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
Matthew 18:19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater [works] than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask anything in My name, I will do [it]
1 John 5:12-15 “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may [continue] [to] believe in the name of the Son of God. Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask , we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
Psalm 2: 8 “ Ask of Me, and I will give [You] The nations [for] Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth [for] Your possession.”
E.M. Bounds, a most respected and authoritative author on prayer wrote: “Prayer has a great deal to do with missions. Prayer is the hand-maid of missions. The success of all real missionary effort is dependent on prayer. The life and spirit of missions are the life and spirit of prayer. Both prayer and missions were born in the divine mind. Prayer and missions are bosom companions. Prayer creates and makes missions successful, while missions lean heavily on prayer. In the seventy-second Psalm, one which deals with the Messiah, it is stated that ‘prayer shall be made for him continually.’ Prayer would be made for his coming to save man, and prayer would be made for the success of the plan of salvation which he would come to set on foot.”
“The key of all missionary success is prayer. That key is in the hands of the home churches. The trophies won by our Lord in heathen lands will be won by praying missionaries, not by professional workers in foreign lands. More especially will this success be won by saintly praying in the churches at home. The home church on her knees fasting and praying, is the great base of spiritual supplies, the sinews of war, and the pledge of victory in this dire and final conflict. Financial resources are not the real sinews of war in this fight. Machinery in itself carries no power to break down heathen walls, open effectual doors and win heathen hearts to Christ. Prayer alone can do that deed.”
– E.M.Bounds in The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer, pp.142-143.
“God has instituted prayer so as to confer upon his creatures the dignity of being causes.” Blaise Pascal
“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” – Karl Barth
“Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the fellowship must enter every day.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the Kingdom.” – C.H. Spurgeon
“Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness.” – William Carey
“True, whole prayer is nothing but love.” – St. Augustine
“The Spirit teaches me to yield my will entirely to the will of the Father. He opens my ear to wait in great gentleness and teachableness of soul for what the Father has day by day to speak and to teach. He discovers to me how union with God’s will is union with God Himself; how entire surrender to God’s will is the Father’s claim, the Son’s example, and the true blessing of the soul.” – Andrew Murray
My aunt Louise Jeter Walker, renowned author, missionary pioneer and educator wrote the following poem on p.13 of her book of poems entitled, The Land of the Christless Cross, published by the Foreign Missions Department of the Assemblies of God in 1951
Somebody prayed and my burden was lighter,
Somebody prayed and my path became clear,
Clouds rolled away and the sunshine was brighter
Jesus, my wonderful Savior, was near.
Prayer hands outstretched over ocean and mountain
Helped me press onward when I was afraid;
Thirsty souls drank at the life-giving fountain,
Somebody, somewhere, had earnestly prayed.
Faith flickered low in my pain-tortured body,
Jesus, the mighty Physician, was there
Healing me, bringing me joy in His presence,
Answering somebody’s unfailing prayer.
Gems for the Master afar I may gather,
Trophies at last at His feet to be laid;
“Well done,” He’ll say, but methinks I shall answer:
“Naught but Thy grace, Lord, somebody prayed.”
“God intends your praying to secure divine answers. Prayer is not just God’s diversion to keep from being lonely. He delights in your fellowship. He always draws nearer when you pray. Also, prevailing prayer is one of the most important ministries in God’s kingdom plans….
“Prevailing prayer is not simply a spiritual exercise to help you grow in grace. Certainly nothing is more beneficial to growth in grace than growth in the life of prayer. The more you prevail, the more you will learn the secrets of God’s grace and the powers of His kingdom. The more you intercede, the more intimate will be your walk with Christ and the stronger you will become by the Spirit’s power.”
“Prevailing prayer is God’s ordained means for extending His kingdom, for defeating Satan and his empire of darkness and evil, and for fulfilling God’s eternal plan and bringing into effect His good will on earth. … The history of the church can never be fully written until Christ in eternity reveals the mighty hidden prayer involvement of all His praying people.”
“Prevailing prayer is the most divine ministry you will ever have. Nothing is more Christ like or involves more cooperation with Christ. No form of Christian service is both so universally open to all and so high in Christ’s priority for all Christians as prevailing prayer. It is Christ’s desire, Christ’s call, and Christ’s command. Lord, teach us to prevail!” from Mighty Prevailing Prayer, by Wesley L. Duewel pp.13&14.