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
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
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,
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
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.