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The Power Of Prayer In The Congregation continued...

That is the "Magic" formula for Evangelism,

Christian growth and revival. Now let's see that "formula" applied--in action--and finally witness the end results.

p. 141, "I shall never forget Easter Sunday 1992--the day that Roberta Langella gave her dramatic testimony, as I recounted in chapter 3. A homeless man was standing in the back of the church, listening intently.

At the end of the evening meeting I sat down on the edge of the platform, exhausted, as others continued to pray with those who had responded to Christ. The organist was playing quietly. I wanted to relax. I was just starting to unwind when I looked up to see this man, with shabby clothing and matted hair, standing in the center aisle about four rows back and waiting for permission to approach me.

I nodded and gave him a weak little wave of my hand. 'Look at how this Easter Sunday is going to end,' I thought to myself. 'He's going to hit me up for money.' That happens often in this church. 'I'm so tired…'

When he came close, I saw that his two front teeth were missing. But more striking was his odor--the mixture of alcohol, sweat, urine, and garbage took my breath away. I have been around many street people, but this was the strongest stench I have ever encountered. I instinctively had to turn my head sideways to inhale, then look back in his direction while breathing out.

I asked his name.

"David," he said softly.

"How long have you been homeless, David?"

"Six years."

"Where did you sleep last night?"

"In an abandoned truck."

I had heard enough and wanted to get this over quickly. I reached for the money clip in my back pocket.

At that moment David put his finger in front of my face and said, "No, you don't understand--I don't want your money. I'm going to die out there. I want the Jesus that red-haired girl talked about."

I hesitated, then closed my eyes. 'God forgive me,' I begged. I felt soiled and cheap. Me, a minister of the gospel…I had wanted simply to get rid of him, when he was crying out for the help of Christ I had just preached about. I swallowed hard as God's love flooded my soul.

David sensed the change in me. He moved toward me and fell on my chest, burying his grimy head against my white shirt and tie. Holding him close, I talked to him about Jesus' love. There weren't just words; I felt them. I felt love for this pitiful man. And that smell…I don't know how to explain it. It had almost made me sick, but now it became the most powerful fragrance to me. I reveled in what had been repulsive just a moment ago.

The Lord seemed to say to me in that instant, 'Jim, if you and your wife have any value to me, if you have any purpose in my work--it has to do with this odor. This is the smell of the world I died for.'

David surrendered to the Christ he heard about that night. We got him into a hospital detoxification unit for a week. We got his teeth fixed. [Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan--this Christian church and pastor are putting it into practice the way Jesus intended it to be!] He joined the Prayer Band right away. He spent the next Thanksgiving Day in our home. We invited him back for Christmas as well…Today David heads up the maintenance department at the church, overseeing ten other employees. He is now married and a father. God is opening more and more doors for him to go out and give his testimony. When he speaks, his words have a weight and an impact that many ordained ministers would covet.

As Christians reach out to touch everyone, including the unlovely who are now everywhere in our society, God touches them, too--and revolutionizes their lives. Otherwise we would just be circling the wagons, busying ourselves with Bible studies among our own kind. There is no demonstration of God's power because we have closed ourselves off from the 'need' for such demonstration."

p. 144, "Once again, William Law writes: 'We may take for a certain rule, that the more the divine nature and life of Jesus is manifest in us, and the higher our sense of righteousness and virtue, the more we shall pity and love those who are suffering from the blindness, disease, and death of sin. The sight of such people then, instead of raising in us a haughty contempt or holier-than-thou indignation, will rather fill us with such tenderness and compassion as when we see the miseries of a dread disease.' Carol and I have found that unless God baptizes us with fresh outpourings of love, we would leave New York City YESTERDAY!"

p. 145, "If the Spirit is not keeping my heart in line with my doctrine, something crucial is missing."

p. 147, "People must not only hear but feel, see, and experience the grace of God we speak about. As we open up our church meetings to God's power, they will not always follow a predetermined schedule or order. Who can outline what God might have in mind?"

p. 149, "The prayer of the Jerusalem believers recorded in Acts 4 it says in essence, 'God, please don't send us out there alone just talking. Work with us; confirm your message in a supernatural way.' What way and in what manner was left entirely (and rightfully) to God alone."

"Charles Finney, the lawyer turned evangelist, once said that as long as an audience kept looking at him while he preached, he knew he was failing. Only when their heads began dropping in deep conviction of sin did he know that God was working alongside him, producing a heart change inside. The words of sound doctrine alone were not enough.

In fact, revivals have never been dominated by eloquent or clever preaching. If you had timed meetings with a stopwatch you would have found far more minutes given to prayer, weeping, and repentance than to sermons. In the "Prayer-Meeting Revival" of 1857-59 there was virtually no preaching at all. Yet it apparently produced the greatest harvest of any spiritual awakening in American history: Estimates run to 1,000,000 converts across the United States, out of a national population at that time of only 30,000,000. That would be proportionate to 9,000,000 Americans today falling on their knees in repentance! How did this happen?" [Read how this happened in pastor Cymbala's book, pages 149-150.]

p. 150, "Does anyone today think that America today is lacking preachers, books, Bible translations, and neat doctrinal statements? What we really lack is the passion to call upon the Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful.

Let me make a bold statement! [this whole book is a bold statement, pastor Cymbala!] Christianity is not predominantly a teaching religion. We have been almost overrun these days by the cult of the speaker…The North American church has made the sermon the centerpiece of the meeting, rather than the throne of Grace, where God acts in people's lives."

p. 151, "The Jewish faith in Jesus' day was dominated by rabbis--teachers of the Law. Their doctrine was thorough. Jesus told them, "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life" (John 5:39-40). They knew the written Word of God very well, but not the living Word of God, even as he stood before them."

Christianity is not predominantly a teaching religion…the teaching of sound doctrine is a prelude, if you will, to the Supernatural.

The Scriptures are not so much the goal as they are an arrow that points us to the life-changing Christ…It is fine to explain about God, but far too few people today are experiencing the living Christ in their lives. We are not seeing God's visitation in our gatherings. We are not on the lookout for his outstretched hand. The teaching of sound doctrine is a prelude, if you will, to the supernatural. It is also a guide, a set of boundaries to keep emotion and exuberance within proper channels [cf. I Cor. 11-14].

p. 152, "Granted, extremists have done fanatical things in the name of the Holy Spirit that have frightened many sincere Christians away. Chaotic meetings with silly things going on and a lack of reverence for God have driven many to prefer a quiet orderly lecture. But this is just another tactic of the enemy to make us throw out the baby with the bathwater. Satan's tendency is always to push us toward one extreme or the other: deadness or fanaticism…The old saying is true: If you have only the Word, you dry up. If you have only the Spirit, you blow up. But if you have both, you grow up.

More than 200 years ago William Law bluntly declared…"The Jews refused Him who was the substance and fulfilling of all that was taught in their Law and Prophets. The Christian Church is in a fallen state for the same rejection of the Holy Spirit." He said further that just as the Jews refused Jesus and quote Scripture to prove their point, "so church leaders today reject the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit in the name of sound doctrine." What would the Englishman say if he were alive today?"

p. 153, "North American churches must no longer accept the status quo. No more neat little meetings, even with the benefit of 100 percent correct doctrine…Shouldn't we expect to SEE Him in action once in a while? Shouldn't we implore him to manifest Himself? Moses did. Joshua did. Elijah did. Elisha did. Peter did. Philip did. Paul did. Shouldn't we? God will manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for him. The principle he laid down long ago is still true: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL your heart" (Jer. 29:13).

pp. 173-177,

"You and I will never know our potential under God until we step out and take risks on the front line of battle."

"In verses 12-14 [of I Chronicles 11] we meet Eleazar, who accompanied David into a major battle with the Philistines. We get an idea of how formidable the enemy was when the Bible says, "At a place where there was a field full of barley, the troops fled from the Philistines." This was no minor skirmish; this was all-out combat against a superior opponent. Many frightened Israelite soldiers saw the coming horde and ran for their lives.

But not Eleazar. He and David "took their stand in the middle of the field. They defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought a great victory." Once again we see the combination of human and divine efforts. God did not act alone. He didn't unleash a lightning strike from heaven to fry the Philistines. Instead, he was looking all across the horizon that day to see who would stay in the barley field and thus receive his supernatural aid. While others left in fear, these two--David and Eleazar--stood firm.

The account in 2 Samuel 23:10 adds even more detail about Eleazar. He "stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword." He swung his weapon with such grit, such adrenaline, that his muscles locked up on him; he couldn't let go. Talk about a mighty warrior for God!

What the world's situation cries out for today is this kind of determined and desperate faith that grips the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and won't let go until victory comes.

A man such as Eleazar brings to mind the little-known, seldom-seen partner of the great evangelist Charles Finney during the Second Great Awakening. His name was Daniel Nash, and he had had a lackluster record as a pastor in upstate New York. He finally decided, at the age of forty-eight, to give himself totally to prayer for Finney's meetings.

"Father Nash," as some called him, would quietly slip into a town three or four weeks before Finney's arrival, rent a room, find two or three other like-minded Christians to join him, and start pleading with God. In one town the best he could find was a dark, damp cellar; it became his center for intercession.

In another place, Finney relates:

When I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house. She said, "Brother Finney, do you now a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven't eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn't know what to do. Would you please come and see about them?"

"No, it isn't necessary," I replied. "They just have a spirit of travail in prayer."

Once the public meetings began, Nash usually did not attend. He kept praying in his hideaway for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to melt the crowd. If opposition arose--as it often did in those rugged days of the 1820's--Finney would tell him about it, and Father Nash would bear down all the harder in prayer.

One time a group of young men openly announced that they were going to break up the meetings. Nash, after praying, came out of the shadows to confront them. "Now, mark me, young men! God will break your ranks in less than one week, either by converting some of you, or by sending some of you to hell. He will do this as certainly as the Lord is my God!"

Finney admits that at that point he thought his friend had gone over the edge. But the next Tuesday morning, the leader of the group suddenly showed up. He broke down before Finney, confessed his sinful attitude, and gave himself to Christ.

"What shall I do, Mr. Finney?" he asked then. The evangelist sent him back to tell his companions what had changed in his life. Before the week was out, "Nearly if not all of that class [group] of young men were hoping in Christ," Finney reported.

In 1826 a mob in a certain town burned effigies of the two: Finney and Nash. These unbelievers recognized that one man was as big a threat to their wickedness as the other. Shortly before Nash died in the winter of 1831, he wrote in a letter,

I am now convinced, it is my duty and privilege, and the duty of every other Christian, to pray for as much of the Holy Spirit as came down on the day of Pentecost, and a great deal more…My body is in pain, but I am happy in my God…I have only just begun to understand what Jesus meant when He said, "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Within four months of Nash's death, Finney left the itinerant field to become the pastor of a church in New York City. His partner in cracking the gates of hell was gone…Daniel Nash was a nobody to the elite of his time. They would have found this humble man not worthy of comment because he lived on a totally different plane. But you can be sure that he was known all too well in both heaven and hell…

p. 179, "Consider how many gospel-preaching churches there are in the fifty states of America--200,000, if not more. If each of these churches, on average, brought only two converts to Christ a week--not robbing people from the First Baptist or First Nazarene down the road, but winning new people for the kingdom of God--that would mean 100 new baptized believers in each church in a year's time, or 20,000,000, nationwide.

The population of the entire United States is about 270,000,000. By merely bringing eight or nine people a month to Christ in each church, America would be dramatically changed within two or three years. Can any serious Bible-preaching church not take on this modest goal in the name of its King?

God's plan for the local church has always centered in evangelism. Those brought to Christ are thus born into the very place where they can be nurtured and discipled. This avoids the slippage we often see when parachurch ministries try to do the work mainly assigned to the local church.

An evangelistic focus, of course, would force us back to serious prayer and an emphasis on the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. God would prepare us as only he can for victorious spiritual warfare. Concerned believers wouldn't have time to watch as much television as they do now. A lot of other activities would have to give way. Living in the Bible, as calling upon the Lord, fasting, and then reaching out to the unsaved would consume us. We would require God's anointing, whatever the cost.

Some churches in very small towns might have trouble reaching 100 people per year, but they would be offset by the churches in urban areas, where the need and the opportunity are so great.

If the American church actually set out to do this "exploit" for God, bringing 20,000,000 to Christ this year, another 20,000,000 next year…in three or four years we wouldn't recognize our culture. Broadway and Hollywood would have to acknowledge the shift in audience preferences. Abortion clinics would wonder where all their customers went [and I say, without the noisy confrontation we see so much of now, this would be a quiet revolution of people following Christ and avoiding this evil crime in their own lives]. Drug abuse would plummet.

Some will accuse me of idealistic dreaming, but isn't this plan the last thing Jesus told us to fulfill before his ascension? "Go and make disciples of all nations," he said, "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20). What will it take to shake denominational leaders, pastors, and laypeople, seeing that we all must answer to Christ at the Judgment Seat one day? Our sense of inadequacy is no excuse, given that he has promised to work with us as we set our hearts to the task of extending his kingdom."

The following is taken from the front and back flap of Jim Cymbala's book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:


Jim Cymbala believes that Jesus wants nothing more than to renew and revive his people--to call us back from spiritual dead ends that lead only to apathy and lukewarm religion.

As pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, one of America's most remarkable churches, he knows firsthand the transforming power of God's love--strong enough to convert prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, homeless people, and transvestites. Strong enough to draw professional men and women, blacks, whites, and Hispanics together in worship. Strong enough to rekindle our own dull hearts and flagging spirits.

Twenty-five years ago, the Brooklyn Tabernacle could barely draw twenty people to a Sunday service. Today it is six thousand strong, a testament of what God can do when men and women begin to pour out their hearts to God.

The story of what has happened to a broken-down church in one of America's meanest neighborhoods points the way to new spiritual vitality in the church and in your own life. But don't look in this book for faddish techniques--you won't find them. And while the Tabernacle today has an interracial membership and a world-renowned choir, don't look for an emphasis on cross-culturalism, numbers, or well-orchestrated worship music.

Instead, look for what God can do when a handful of people humble themselves and take the Gospel seriously. When believers turn to their last and only recourse--their knees--and discover there the life-changing reality of the Holy Spirit.

Whether you're a pastor or a layperson, if you're hungry for more of God, this book will break your heart and restore your passion.

Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle for twenty-five years. In that time the congregation has grown from twenty members to six thousand. He lives in New York City with his wife, Carol Cymbala, who directs the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

"FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE"can be ordered online at or .

The excerpts you just read were taken from Pastor Cymbala's book "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire." These excerpts represent a very small portion of a book chock full of the miracles of answered prayer and how prevailing prayer fuels evangelism. Be sure to order the book for yourself and see how prayer can change your life and the life of the church you attend. You cannot read this book too much. Reading it makes you want to pray. Reading this book facilitates prayer. I honestly cannot say that about another book besides the Bible itself. This book should be an active, dog-eared addition of every Christian pastor's library. Application of the principles in this book will bring revival and growth to any and every person and congregation who apply it to their prayer lives. This is one of the few books which comes under the category of "You can't do without it."

"Unity Meditative Prayer-Groups is looking for a few good prayer-warriors (to quote the famous US Marine Corp ad). These groups are strictly for those who are interested in the type of prayer-group that will both strongly enhance their own personal walk with Christ, as well as assist in bringing powerful spiritual unity within the entire body of Christ. CLICK HERE to read more about these Unity Meditative Prayer-Groups."


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