Why a Week of Prayer?
by J. W. Lehman, Revivalist, Canadian Union Conference
It will soon be time for the fall week of devotion once again. What does this mean to you? Is it just another one of the many programs of the church, or does it have a special meaning and purpose in your life?
My introduction to such times of devotion was a little unusual. As a new convert at college, the week of prayer was mysterious and strange. I had no idea as to what it all meant. After the first chapel service, eight fellows met in a classroom for a prayer band and the leader asked what we would like to pray about. After several proposals someone suggested that we pray for the conversion of some student. When a name or two was mentioned, one said that those named were on the verge of reconversion, why not pray for a very difficult case to put the Lord to the test? At last the name of a fellow who was the most rebellious student on campus was mentioned. The response of the members of the prayer band was that he really was a severe case and it would take a miracle to convert him. Some doubted that we should pray for such an impossible case, but one or two fellows stated that the Lord could save to the uttermost. Let’s take his name to the Lord and trust God.
So every day through the week we met after chapel and prayed for just this one student, beseeching God to do something special for him. Of course we also held his name up in our personal daily devotions.
I must confess that I really wondered if God would really bless such a rebellious fellow. While I had strong faith about many things, I wasn’t quite so certain about this. But God was teaching all of us some things concerning faith and His amazing love for sinners.
It was on Friday morning when the speaker made a call for those who wanted to give their lives to Christ for the first time. It was very simple and very short with little or no emotion. Among the first ones to go forward was this fellow for whom we had been praying. The whole prayer band felt like standing up in church and cheering. To us it was sensational and unbelievable. There he was standing down front while we wept in gratitude to God.
When the meeting ended, one of the students in our prayer band found the fellow we had been praying for and brought him to our prayer band. He had not been in any prayer group all week. There we told him of our prayers during the week and our plan to pray for him, and he shared his experience with us. That last prayer band on Friday morning was a great blessing. Most of us were embarrassed at our lack of faith and yet very grateful that the Lord had heard our prayers on behalf of this other student.
To my surprise, several years later I discovered that this was one of the methods suggested by the Lord for the salvation of souls. “Why do not believers feel a deeper, more earnest concern for those who are out of Christ? Why do not two or three meet together and plead with God for the salvation of some special one, and then for still another?” Testimonies, Vol. 7, p. 21.
It works and has worked in dozens and perhaps many hundreds of cases. It is also very effective in other types of problems that affect so many of us these days. You see, there is a spirit of sacrifice in group prayer that is Christlike. When we take time to gather in a special group, daily sacrificing all other schedules, duties and pleasures to beseech heaven for this one soul; such sacrifice is honored in heaven. It shows great love and concern for just that one soul. And if a longtime is required, meeting many different times for that soul, even more sacrifice and love is demonstrated.
The Lord longs to see us so concerned about each other that we will make great sacrifice for others. But notice that we meet together and plead for the salvation ofone soul and then for still another. The thought is we meet and plead until that one soul is converted. We do not give up. God is able, and souls are too precious to cease praying for them. Notice how this point is emphasized in Early Writings, p. 73: “I asked the angel why there was no more faith and power in Israel. He said, ‘Ye let go of the arm of the Lord too soon. Press your petitions to the throne, and hold on by strong faith. The promises are sure. Believe ye receive the things ye ask for, and ye shall have them.’ ”
The needs of our day are great. Let us at this special season of prayer and devotion gather together daily in our churches, homes, schools, hospitals and offices and beseech heaven as we never have before for special blessings and help that will allow God to reveal His great glory and power once again. Time is short. Precious souls are falling away. The enemy is active. Now is the time to intercede for others. It could be that we, like Job, will experience great changes in our lives and Christian experience when we pray for our friends. Job 42:10. Even our material blessings might increase as did his.
[Article from Canadian Adventist Messenger, October 4, 1979 (p. 2)]
19 December 2017