Monday, June 8, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
He came to the Yunnan Province of China in 1910 intending to reach the almost forgotten Lisu tribal people.
Fraser was an accomplished student of languages. Before long he had mastered the Lisu’s difficult dialect, and then proceeded to translate the Scriptures into their language. His work was later labeled the "Fraser Script".
Yet despite having the Scriptures translated into their language, the Lisu didn’t come to Christ in large numbers.
But then Fraser discovered the power of prayer.
One biographer said, "To know the real Fraser one needed to hear him in prayer. Prayer was the very breath of life to him, and in prayer he seemed to slip from time into eternity.
"Frequently the mountainside would witness the piercing, importunate pleadings of this man who counted his prayer-time not by minutes but by hours."
Fraser himself wrote: "How much of our prayer is of the quality we find in Hannah's bitterness of soul, when she prayed unto the Lord? How many times have we ever 'WEPT SORE' before the Lord? We have prayed much perhaps, but our longings have not been deep compared with hers.”
Fraser’s Hannah-like prayers finally started to pay off.
By 1916 God’s Spirit began to work powerfully among the Lisu, which brought about sixty thousand baptisms within only two years!
David Smithers reports, “The Lisu church continued to grow and eventually became one of the largest tribal Christian bodies in the world.”
Did you notice that the written chronicles of revival and successful mission work always report that seasons of intense prayer had to come first?
Posted by Keith Roberts
Saturday, May 23, 2009
He wasn’t considered the most talented missionary ever sent out. Partially deaf and tending to keep to himself, he found learning the complicated languages of India a stiff challenge.
But Hyde carried a heavy burden for the lost, which drove him to seek out better ways to win them, leading to his amazing emphasis on prayer.
Richard Klein describes it this way: “In 1904, Indian Christians and western missionaries gathered for the first of an annual series of conventions at Sialkot in what is today Pakistan. To support this time of spiritual renewal, John Hyde and his friends formed the Punjab Prayer Union, setting aside half an hour each day to pray for revival…
“By 1908, John Hyde dared to pray what was to many at the convention an impossible request: that during the coming year in India one soul would be saved every day. Three hundred sixty five people converted, baptized, and publicly confessing Jesus as their Savior. Impossible -- yet it happened. Before the next convention John Hyde had prayed more than 400 people into God's kingdom, and when the prayer union gathered again, he doubled his goal to two souls a day. Eight hundred conversions were recorded that year, and still Hyde showed an unquenchable passion for lost souls.”
J. Pengwern Jones recalls, "He was always on his knees when I went to bed, and on his knees long before I was up in the morning, though I was up with the dawn. He would also light the lamp several times in the night, and feast on some passages of the Word, and then have a little talk with the Master. He sometimes remained on his knees the whole day.”
Near the end of his life, "Praying" John Hyde wrote about the powerfully effective praying the Lord had allowed to come into his life:
"On the day of prayer, God gave me a new experience. I seemed to be away above our conflict here in the Punjab and I saw God's great battle in all India, and then away out beyond in China, Japan, and Africa. I saw how we had been thinking in narrow circles of our own countries and in our own denominations, and how God was now rapidly joining force to force and line to line, and all was beginning to be one great struggle. That, to me, means the great triumph of Christ. We must exercise the greatest care to be utterly obedient to Him who sees all the battlefield all the time. It is only He who can put each man in the place where his life can count for the most."
The apostle Paul would agree: "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains." (Colossians 4:2 NIV).
(See this link for more.)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
It seemed to me they were using Scripture the way positive thinkers use affirmations, to stoke their psychological state with a triumphalist attitude.
"No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper" seemed to have more to do with Isaiah's prediction of Israel's renaissance after her time of captivity than a personal promise to a televangelist about avoiding bankruptcy.
But then I rediscovered Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (NIV).
Think about it. The writer of Hebrews counsels his readers to take this ancient Scripture from its original context and encourage themselves with it, producing contentment. Without hesitation, he uses verses spoken not to his readers, but to Joshua as he was taking the reigns of leadership from Moses during the exodus.
Joshua will face trials, which could disrupt his own contentment, so the Lord tells him, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." (See Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 & Joshua 1:5).
And then the writer of Hebrews does it again in 13:6 - "So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" (NIV).
He takes another Old Testament verse, pulls it partly from its context, and then applies it to his readers (see Psalm 118:6-7). And this context, taken from a song about victory in war, seems even further from daily life for the readers of Hebrews, who are struggling to hold on to faith in Christ amid persecution from fellow Jews.
When I realized this precedent - that I could take Scriptures written to people I don't even know, in situations I'll never experience, and apply them to daily struggle - I knew there was more power in prayer than I'd ever realized.
That's why you find so many prayers in Scripture that are reused later by other people in other situations.
Example: when attacked by three armies, King Jehoshaphat prayed parts of King Solomon's temple dedication prayer. Jehoshaphat used the prayer to "remind" God of His promises of protection to His covenant people (See 2 Chronicles 20:6-12 & 2 Chronicles 6:14:42).
You'll find several other examples like this, where people used Scriptures written before their time to empower their own prayers.
Go to this link to find a 40 day plan to use Scripture to enhance your prayers.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Well, if prayer doesn't change (at the least) God's actions, then why pray? And If you pray, believing that prayer changes things, then what does it change?
I think I know why some people doubt that prayer changes God's will. They believe His will cannot change because He can't change. A perfect being doesn't need to change.
But to say that prayer won't change God's will is to have a limited view of that will. What is God's will? A monolithic structure? Is God tied to only one way of accomplishing His purposes?
In his wonderful, concise analysis called The Will of God, Leslie D. Weatherhead makes more sense on this issue than most writers. He says the will of God has many facets: God's "intentional will", His "circumstantial will" and His "ultimate will".
God's original intent (will) was that mankind live in a perfect paradise in complete harmony with Divinity. But Satanic evil, along with man's sovereign choices, hijacked that will.
So now God works from His "circumstantial will" - His will as adjusted within a universe now corrupted by toxic evil.
As an example, Weatherhead mentions illness. Why do we fight with all our prayers and medical skill against illness, and then claim it was "God's will" if the person dies? Were we fighting God's will all along?
It was never "God's will" that the world be swallowed up in sickness, death, suffering and evil, but now that it has been, His will works to reverse the curse.
Simple example: King Hezekiah became ill (not God's intentional will from the beginning) and prayed. He was healed (God's circumstantial will). If he had not prayed, he would not have been healed.(See 2 Kings 20).
God's "will" waited on Hezekiah's will. When he made his choice to pray, God's will acted.
Yes, God's "circumstantial will" - in which we now exist - can be changed by prayer... by prayers that change His working in particular situations where humans have a choice.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
So, how does this tough little character survive? Well, it never attacks a snake unless he's near a certain plant whose leaves produce anti-venom sap. When bitten, the ichneumon rushes to the plant, nibbles the leaves, recovers and then attacks the snake again.
I'm trying to pattern my prayer life after that animal's survival tactics. You see, when I've been too involved in life, in the problems of people and ministry, in combating the Serpent, etc. - then I need a prayer-break.
I'm not much good to anyone when I'm tired, discouraged, beaten down and generally overwhelmed by too many demands. Sometimes I even find myself avoiding people because of the drain on my spiritual electrical system.
And sometimes I'm like a kid on a carousel who wants off, but can't jump because it's still moving. I have to wait... wait for those times when I can retreat into prayer - that sublime land where all cares melt in the glow of the Father's warm acceptance.
Jesus had the same need. In the middle of crushing demands on his time, when news about him had spread throughout the land and crowds tugged at him to heal their kids and lead them out of Roman slavery, the word says, "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed". (Luke 5:16 NIV).
And the Lord demanded the same of his own disciples: "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'" (Mark 6:31 NIV).
Jesus knew that a warrior's time spent sharpening his sword isn't wasted. In the battle, the time-investment pays off. That's why he told the disciples, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation". (Luke 22:40 NIV).
Maybe I should try that spiritual anti-venom stuff before the battle begins...