The following is written by Steve Shadrach, author of Fuel and The Flame
Prayer: The real work of the ministry
I didn’t say it, 19th century Christian leader and author S.D. Gordon did. “Prayer is the real work of the ministry, service is just gathering in the results of prayer” he profoundly asserts in his potent little piece, Quiet Thoughts on Prayer. Why is it then that I can spend two hours with one of the guys I’m discipling and enjoy the heck out it, but if you ask me to spend two minutes in prayer for him it’s like pulling teeth? Here’s a sample prayer: “Dear Lord, I uh, pray for Matt right now, that you would, uh, bless him and uh,” (I look at my watch and it’s only been 10 seconds) “and Father, encourage him today and, uh, use him in someone’s life today and uh…” (I look again and only 20 seconds have passed!)
You get the picture. The enemy knows that walls are broken down and hearts are penetrated by specific, constant intercession for the souls of men and women. I have seen so many conversions and life changes I know are a direct result of my petitions. What a fool I am then for neglecting, yes, forsaking the most important weapon you and I have in this world, unleashing the power of God into someone’s life. I can’t say I understand why the Lord has chosen to move in others’ hearts in response to our prayers, yet I am grateful and humbled by it. But we dare not kid ourselves, as Civil War chaplain E.M. Bounds shared generations ago, “To be little with God is to be little for God,” We will be sorely disappointed if we think we’ll have a strong public ministry with students alongside a weak private life of intercession with the Lord.
Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, came to Christ in his early twenties and immediately began to grow, memorize Scripture, witness ─ and pray. He challenged a friend to get up and meet him for two hours of prayer every morning at 4:30 a.m. for six weeks. In the first few days they prayed for individuals in their church and city, but God expanded their vision and, now armed with a U.S. map, began praying God would use them in the lives of men in all fifty states, and in the final weeks they were moved to pour their hearts out over a world map, realizing that the Lord wanted to use their prayers and their lives to touch nations for Himself. This foundation of intercession not only launched the Navigators ministry, but galvanized Daws and his men as lifetime prayer warriors.
After reading Daws, an excellent biography on Trotman, I decided to ask five men, for six weeks also, to get up at 5:30 a.m. (we weren’t quite as committed!) and pray together everyday for two hours. We divided the campus up into every imaginable living and affinity group to pray for the students salvation and that laborers would be raised up to go to them and that laborers would be raised from them to go to the world. We too, would always end up in front of a world map, praying for the nations, giving special attention to the unreached millions in China. In the subsequent months and years we saw God do marvelous works in response to our petitions, and two of the early morning pray-ers have now been ministering in China for about twenty years, along with many of their disciples who followed them there.
Pray In All Ways
Pray in the morning. Pray late at night. Pray with other students. Pray by yourself. Pray ─ without ceasing! The more you lift your heart up to the Lord, the more you position yourself in intercessory prayer between the Lord and others, the more you will sense His going before you to touch and prepare the hearts of students. Hudson Taylor sometimes enjoyed proving God could and would respond to his prayers, thus his motto: “We want to see men moved by God─through prayer alone.”
Lastly, one of the most enjoyable things I do is to take prayer walks around the campus with a student I desire to build a deeper burden for prayer and evangelism. Usually in the early morning or late night, and sometimes in multiple pairs, we will create a prayer circuit where each twosome stops in front of every dorm, Greek house, athletic facility, office, and classroom building to intercede for the group as well as individuals. Try it. You’ll like it!