Memphis Belle

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Prayer Partners continued...

THE POWER OF PARTNERING IN PRAYER

Neither of our lives has ever been the same since that meeting. Bill became my personal prayer and accountability partner after that, and he went on to help me organize a prayer partner ministry at Skyline, a group of people who prayed for me every day during my fourteen years there and who met in small groups in a tiny room at church every Sunday to cover the services with prayer. It started with thirty-one laymen and eventually expanded to include 120. During those fourteen years, the congregation tripled in size from a little over 1,000 to nearly 3,500. The church's annual income jumped from $750,000 to more than $5,000,000. Ministry at Skyline flourished, with lay involvement increasing from 112 to over 1,800.

But the really awesome power of those prayers has been in individual lives: Thousands of people received Christ during those years. My prayer partners grew in their walk with God and became active participants in the miraculous power of prayer in their daily lives. Bill and Marianne Klassen started their own ministry to teach other churches how to start their own prayer partners. And during those years, God led me down an incredible road. In addition to all the wonderful things happening in the church, I began working more and more with other pastors, teaching them leadership and church growth. I formed INJOY, a nondenominational Christian organization dedicated to helping leaders reach their potential, in the church, business, and family. I've even had the privilege of speaking at several Promise Keepers conferences around the country.

Without prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, I believe none of these things would have happened. The glory and the honor belong to God. But the credit for releasing that power and keeping me protected day after day belongs to those prayer partners.

PRAYER PARTNERS IN HISTORY

Laypeople partnering in prayer with godly leaders is not a new concept. It goes all the way back to the Old Testament in the book of Exodus when Moses prayed on a hilltop for Joshua to defeat the Amalekites...It continued in the New Testament, particularly in the first days of the developing first-century church, as recounted in the book of Acts. You probably remember how the 120 disciples prayed during the days between Jesus' ascension and the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14). On the day when the Holy Spirit arrived, a simple fisherman named Peter gave his testimony, and 3,000 were converted.

Over the centuries, there have undoubtedly been innumerable instances of people partnering in prayer with preachers. Though no records exist outside of heaven for most of them, we do know the story of fairly recent ones:

The Preacher: Charles Finney
The Year: 1830
The Place: Rochester, New York

The Results: In one year 1,000 of the city's 10,000 inhabitants came to Christ.

The Partner: Finney's "prayer partner" was Abel Clary. Finney wrote, "Mr. Clary continued as long as I did and did not leave until after I had left. He never appeared in public, but gave himself wholly to prayer. [Check out the story of Finney's other prayer partner in pastor Cymbala's "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire"--a Daniel Nash. His prayer labors were as great as Abel Clary's.]

The Preacher: D.L. Moody,
An Obscure YMCA Worker
The Year: 1872
The Place: London, England

The Results: In ten days 400 new converts came into the church where he was preaching.

The Partner: In London, a bedridden girl, Marianne Adlord, had read a clipping about Moody's ministry in Chicago and prayed that God would send him to her church.

The Preacher: Canadian Missionary Jonathan Goforth
The Year: 1909
The Place: Manchuria, China
The Results: A great revival throughout Manchuria

The Partner: While in London later that year, Goforth was taken to see an invalid lady. As they talked about the revival in Machuria, she asked him to look at her notebook. She had recorded three days when special power came upon her for his meetings in Manchuria. A feeling of awe gripped Goforth as he realized those were the very days he witnessed the greatest power in Manchuria.

The Preacher: Southern Revivalist
Mordecai Ham
The Year: 1934
The Place: Charlotte, North Carolina

The Results: Many people in Charlotte were deeply moved, including a farmer's son named Billy Graham who was converted.

The Partners: Several businessmen, along with Billy Graham's father, had spent a day at the Graham farm praying that God would touch their city, their state, and their world.

The Preacher: Billy Graham
The Year: 1949
The Place: Los Angeles, California

The Results: An extended campaign that resulted in a change of approach in reaching people for Christ--leading to a new era of mass evangelism.

The Partners: Graham had conducted many similar events with much smaller results. He later realized that the only difference between the L.A. crusade and all the others before it had been the amount of prayer he and his people had given it.

These instances attest to the tremendous power of prayer partnerships. It doesn't matter whether the leader is a pastor or layman, and the person praying can be a man, woman, or child--when someone behind the scenes partners in prayer with one of God's frontline servants, awesome things happen.

PRAYER CHANGES THE WORLD

God's hand moves when people and pastors pray together. Through prayer, God makes the impossible, possible.

Through prayer, God greatly multiplies our efforts. C.H. Spurgeon said, "Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray." In a moment of revelation, Spurgeon had discovered that neither his sermons nor his good works accounted for the spiritual impact of his ministry. Instead, it was, as one writer put it, "The prayers of an illiterate lay brother who sat on the pulpit steps pleading for the success of the sermons." It was his partnership with people of prayer that made him effective.

I can personally attest to the benefits that others' prayers have given me. There have been times when I've gotten ready to do a service or conference, and I've been physically exhausted. But when my prayer partners lay hands on me, and I see them praying over the auditorium, I receive a new strength--physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I feel prepared to receive the power of God. And that has allowed my ministry to have great impact on people's lives.

My prayer partners have also told me, "Pastor, during the service we are going to cover the people around us in prayer. When you see us in the service, we'll give you a thumbs up. That way you'll know we're praying for you, and we have our area covered." When we've had a particularly good service, I know my prayer partners and their prayers were the reason...

PRAYER CHANGES ME

Jesus told His disciples, "I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:23-24). If prayer did nothing other than what Jesus promised, it would be one of the greatest gifts God has given us. But prayer does even more. It changes the ordinary man or woman and makes them extraordinary.

Prayer changes us by drawing us closer to God, changing and molding us into His likeness in the process. David understood prayer's power as a personal change agent. His prayer in Psalm 25:4-5 describes the process that prayer takes a person through: "Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long" (emphasis added).

This passage contains three key phrases: show me, teach me, and guide me. When God shows us His standards and His will for our lives, it isn't always easy on us. It almost always requires us to grow and change. But once we accept what God would show us, He is able to teach us. And when we're teachable and growing, He is finally able to guide us, to lead us into His plan and purpose. When God shows me, He has my heart. When God teaches me, He has my mind. When God guides me, He has my hand.

DON'T LIVE BENEATH YOUR POTENTIAL

Despite God's promise of the power to change us and our world, many Christians never tap into it. They come to Christ, but then they live beneath their privileges [much like D.L. Moody said--look up the short article by D.L. Moody in the link/section on the book of Ephesians. Mr. Moody explains this subject more thoroughly.] It's as though God has prepared an incredible banquet for them, and they're sitting in the corner with a bologna sandwich. The problem is that they don't want to risk giving up the familiar sandwich for the promise of the banquet. It's almost like they're saying, "Okay, I'm saved and I'm going to heaven, but I'm going to stay right where I am until then."

I must ask you: Are you one of those living beneath your privileges and missing out on your potential by not praying? The table has been laid. The sumptuous banquet has been set out. You have already received your invitation. Now what are you going to do? Are you going to bring along a few friends and come to the table? Or are you going to eat your bologna sandwich alone in a corner? The choice is yours. You can become a person of prayer who receives and shares the blessings God has to give.

Most pastors and their churches across the country are currently starving in the area of prayer. One evangelical pastor, speaking about his own denomination, said, "In Acts chapter two, they prayed for ten days. Peter preached for ten minutes and 3,000 were saved. Today, churches pray for ten minutes, preach for ten days and three get saved."

But it doesn't have to be that way. Every pastor at every church in this country can tap into the awesome power and protection that only prayer provides. I believe that you may be one of the people in your church who can help make that happen.

You may be saying to yourself, "Me? I'm no prayer warrior. I could never lead or organize others to pray. I'm not even comfortable with the idea of praying for my pastor. I don't even know if I can do it."

My answer is, "Yes you can!" Anyone can become a strong man or woman of prayer. It doesn't take a miracle, and you don't have to be a Holy Roller. You only need to be a Christian. If you meet that qualification, you have the potential to become a great pray-er. And that's the reason you can pray for your church leaders. You are on the same level as them in the eyes of God. A pastor is simply a brother in Christ, not some spiritual giant. He struggles with the same problems you do.

Get ready to go on an exciting journey, one that will help you, your pastors, and your church reach their potential. We'll start out slow, first talking about some fundamentals of prayer and how you can improve your personal prayer life. Then we'll broaden our focus to include how you can pray for others, including your pastors (or elders and other leaders) and church, showing how you can become a partner in prayer. And finally, we'll talk about the hope that we all have for our churches and our country--revival.

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Content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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