by Steve Shadrach, Director of Mobilization at U.S. Center for World Mission
President of The BodyBuilders, Inc.
“Prayer is the real work of the ministry. Service is just gathering in the results of prayer.” – S.D. Gordon in Quiet Talks on Prayer
The times in my life when I’ve applied this principle, I have seen God do some incredible things. Then why don’t I employ this truth every day in every situation, you ask? I must have a short memory and proud heart!
The amount of time I spend in prayer can indicate whether I am trusting in God-or myself. Sometimes I foolishly think my presence with someone is more powerful and life-changing than God’s presence. I can easily spend two hours with someone in a support appointment and thoroughly enjoy myself. But, if you ask me to spend two minutes (a whole 120 seconds!) praying for them, it seems like an agonizing eternity. I’ll share three quiet thoughts on prayer:
1. Acknowledge the power source:
Psalm 62:11 states that “power belongs to God.” If that’s true, we better plug into the power source! As much as I would like to reach down into someone’s chest and turn their heart toward God (or toward me and our ministry), only God can do that. Whether it’s witnessing or support-raising, our persuasiveness and eloquence only goes so far. Isn’t it preposterous that God has chosen to do His work in response to our prayers? For us to have the privilege of partnering with God to accomplish His work is the mother of all mismatches. Just don’t forget who the managing partner is!
2. Go to God first:
I just finished a list of people I want to approach this month. Some I’m asking to come on our monthly team for the first time, others to re-start, and a few regular givers to consider increasing. My plan is all in place, except for one minor detail. I haven’t yet “made my requests known to God” as commanded us to do in Philippians 4:5-6. Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, believed “we must talk to God about men before we talk to men about God.” The Lord will go before us and open doors and hearts-but He wants us to ask Him to!
3. Specific requests bring specific answers:
“I have not because I ask not” is what James 4:2 teaches. I believe the Lord is waiting on us to ask Him. In late November I went through a list of about 20 names who’ve given us significant end-of-the-year gifts in the past. I prayed for each person and asked God to lay a certain amount on their hearts to give this year. Yes, sometimes I go and ask them to invest the particular amount I prayed for, but sometimes I just ask God to put that amount in their hearts. I have enough answered prayers to fill a George Muller sequel! And then, when our specific requests are specifically answered, only He can get the credit.
P.S. Along with promptly thanking a donor who provides a special gift or increase, we dare not neglect to also express appreciation to our Lord, the true source of the gift. Why? Because only God can turn hearts.