The Lord’s Call For Earnest, Expectant Prayer
By Rich Carmicheal
One of our ongoing prayer requests in the Herald office is for the Lord to provide messages for each issue that reflect His heart and that will accomplish His purposes in our lives. We never cease to be amazed at how He is so gracious to bring material to our attention in various ways, and how He guides us in the selection of themes and articles. We are always so grateful and so blessed as we see an issue come together, knowing that His hand and heart are at work, and that He is sending forth messages to accomplish His wonderful purposes. To Him be all the glory!
This particular issue is no exception, and we believe the Lord has a very special purpose for the accompanying messages. At first, we thought this issue would focus primarily on revival since we are including a few messages from the Heart-Cry for Revival Conference that was held online in February. And revival certainly is one of the themes. But as we compiled the articles, including some rather last minute changes and additions, we began to see clearly that the Lord’s particular heart for this issue is to stir us up in prayer.
This is very encouraging to us, and we hope to you, because we believe the reason the Lord desires to stir us up in prayer is because He desires to work powerfully through our prayers! He has much on His heart that He wants to accomplish in these last days, and since He has chosen to work through prayer to accomplish His purposes, He is calling us to greater faithfulness, confidence and perseverance in prayer.
Promises Regarding Prayer
We hope, therefore, that you will take the call to prayer in this issue as a call directly from the Lord to turn more wholeheartedly to Him in prayer, fully expecting Him to work through those prayers to accomplish His will. After all, has He not promised to work powerfully through prayer?
Does Christ not say: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7)?
Does He not say: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11)?
Does He not say: “Have faith in God. For assuredly…whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:22-24)?
Does He not say: “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. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14)?
Does He not say: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7)?
Does His Word not say: “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22)?
Does God not promise to reward those who believe Him and who “diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6; Matt. 6:6)?
Does His Word not say: “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” (1 John 5:14-15)?
Our All-Powerful God!
Along with all of these wonderful promises about prayer are the glorious truths about who our God is and what He is able to do. He made the heavens and the earth by His great power and outstretched arm – there is nothing too hard for Him! (Jer. 32:17). He is not only able to answer our requests in prayer, He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”! (Eph. 3:20). The simple yet profound truth is, prayer is powerful because our God is powerful! And because of who He is, we should, as Andrew Murray encourages, “Expect unexpected things ‘above all that we ask or think.’” He also exhorts us to “learn to worship God as the God who does wonders, who wishes to prove in you that He can do something supernatural and divine.”
With all of this in mind, we should pray with great faith and expectation! We should pray for the lost, fully expecting Him to save. We should pray for the sick, fully expecting Him to heal. …For the oppressed, fully expecting Him to deliver. …For the wayward, fully expecting Him to bring them to repentance. …For the needy, fully expecting Him to provide. ...For the backslidden, fully expecting Him to revive. …For those in darkness, fully expecting Him to send light. …For those in captivity, fully expecting Him to set them free. …For those who are troubled and anxious, fully expecting Him to comfort and grant peace.
A Testimony of the Power of Prayer
One of the highlights of this year’s Heart-Cry Conference for me personally was an interview that Sammy Tippit conducted with ministry leaders from China, Iran and India about the amazing work the Lord is doing in those places, even in the midst of much persecution. We are blessed to include much of that interview on pages 5-6. One of those leaders, Jolly Sidhu, a pastor from Punjab, India, shared some additional information about how the Lord is working through prayer, including the following:
“…Even in the midst of the lockdown in 2020, we had more than 100 new people from other communities who accepted Jesus Christ in our local church. …The way we do missions is to teach our people to go back and share their testimonies with their relatives and with their friends. Our members would make a list of people in their family, the lost people who haven’t accepted Jesus, and they would pray for them. Then whenever a situation arises, when God gives them an opportunity, they start sharing the Gospel with them.
“The main thing I wanted to share with you is the power of prayer, the results of prayer. Over the years in our church, I have hundreds of testimonies. People would come to us and share how they prayed for their relatives, how they prayed for a sick friend, how they prayed for some who were demon-possessed, how they prayed for some who were under the power of addiction of drugs or alcohol, how they prayed for that individual and how God healed them.”
How gracious and powerful our God is to be healing, delivering and saving others in this church through the prayers of His people! But is He not our God as well?
Repentance and Prayer
Of course, sometimes our prayers are powerless because we ask with wrong motives: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (Jas. 4:3). Or, sometimes the sad reality is simply, “…You do not have because you do not ask” (Jas. 4:2). As F. B. Meyer states, “The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.”
And sometimes the Lord does not hear and answer our prayers because of sin or unforgiveness in our lives (Isa. 59:1-2; Psa. 66:18; Jer. 11:9-14; Mark 11:25-26). When this is the case in our lives, how grateful we can be that the Lord calls us to repentance and to restoration in our relationship to Him. Perhaps even now He is calling you to turn away from sin and to turn fully to Him. And when we do, does He not promise to forgive us and to work powerfully through our prayers? Does He not say that if we humble ourselves, and pray and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, that He will hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land (2 Chr. 7:14)?
Renewed Commitment to Prayer
The awesome reality is when we abide in Him and pray according to His will...by the leading of His Spirit...in His name and for His glory...earnestly and persistently with faith and confidence in Him, we can fully expect Him to work supernaturally through our prayers. We will see spiritual victory in our lives and in the lives of others! We will see His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven! We will see lost family members and neighbors come to Christ! We will see revival in the church and awakening in our communities! And we will see the spread of the Gospel throughout the world! “...The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”! (Jas. 5:16).
So the question becomes the same one asked in the mission biography (page 9): “Where are the intercessors who wait upon God, and get His leading, and pray for the accomplishing of His plans and purposes in the world?”
Will we be among those who draw near to the Lord in prayer, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18), believing Him to work powerfully through our prayers to accomplish His will? Will we be among those who, in the words of Lois Stucky (page 9), “discipline ourselves to do whatever is necessary to get time for prayer and for obeying whatever the Lord asks us to do”?