The Power of a Single Prayer
- 2006 1 Aug
I was amazed. It was our first event in Germany. Two hundred adults came for two days of inductive study from various cities in Germany and several other countries. Among them was a group of ten turned-on teens eager to see what the Book of Daniel taught about the future. They had driven six hours to get there! I couldn't wait to find out the why and how of it all.
The story unfolded in delightful faith-building detail around a cup of tea with two women: Lila, an American, and Gisela, a German. As I listened, I understood the importance of a single prayer, one simple but seemingly insignificant act of obedience, which brought us to this very moment, a moment I had dreamed of, longed and prayed for, but wondered if it would ever happen-the privilege of teaching Germans how they can know truth for themselves so they won't be deceived again by the likes of Hitler, who used the church for his demonic purposes against God's chosen people.
Lila and Gisela reminded me of an older woman I saw at church Sunday. It was her prayer that brought us to this time and place.
For years this tiny, self-effacing woman prayed-faithfully and obediently-that God would send someone to start an evangelical church in her neighborhood. Like the man who persisted until his neighbor gave him the three loaves of bread he needed to feed others (Luke 11:5-9), she didn't quit until the church was established.
The church was started by a dynamic young pastor who left everything at God's persistent bidding to go to the small, beautiful city of Straubing, Germany; and, of course, it was in the older woman's neighborhood! God combined the single prayer of maturity with the simple obedience of youth (2 Cor. 5:16a) to begin a timeless work.
One day years later, a Precept student from Texas by the name of Lila was seeking God in prayer. As she asked what He would have her do, she felt strangely impressed to go to Germany on a mission trip. Unable to shake this burden, she mentioned it to her husband, and then, on his advice, to her pastor. “Lila, if you're convinced God is telling you to do it,” he said, “we'll be behind you . . . but you have to come back and tell us the where, the when, and the how of it all.”
A combination of divine obstacles and positive leading directed Lila and the team to the town of Straubing, where they stumbled on the older woman's church, a church that would follow up on the fruit of their evangelistic “clown ministry” in Straubing's center.
When you meet Lila, it's easy to see how she and the pastor hit it off and became long-distance friends, all of which led to another single act of obedience.
Lila's phone rang one day. It was the pastor from Germany, saying, “Lila, I have a young man you need to take in for the summer. He has a lot of potential for Christ but the wrong kind of young woman is pursuing Philip, and I need to get him out of the country.” Lila and her husband felt this request was of God, and they said, “Yes!” (He was the son of Gisela, the German woman who shared with me over a cup of tea.).
Not knowing what to do with Philip all summer, Lila sent him from Texas to Tennessee to attend our summer Boot Camp for high school students. I first remembered Philip as a handsome, dark-haired kid from Germany with a good deal of self-confidence, coupled with a heart open to God. He went home from Boot Camp a young man changed by the Word of God.
But Lila's mentoring was not finished! A year passed and Gisela was headed to England for a three-week golfing vacation. Again, the pastor was concerned. This divorcee needed more-the influence of a more mature, godly woman. Through Lila's time with me and later at Precept, God gave her a mission, linking her with Georg and Jackie Huber, the German directors for Precept Ministries International. They desperately needed help, but couldn't afford to hire anyone.
It didn't take long for Gisela's life to become fully devoted to Precept Ministries International, in addition to working her regular job. Her lovely but comparatively small apartment close to the church is where our Precept books are shipped out across Europe to all the German-speaking classes. She's become Georg and Jackie's right-hand woman!
And what happened to her son, Philip? Philip was eventually invited to be part of our teen mentoring program, taking a leading role in the Teen Conferences and camps we do throughout the United States. He's even taken Precept classes to the campus where he's now a seminary student. Philip is a man God has raised up and is equipping to reach needy German youth with the call to take up the cross of Christ and reach their world “while it is called today” (Heb. 3:13, 15).
The eager group of teens at our conference told me that it was life as usual until Philip came to their church and asked their pastor if he could teach them how to study the Bible. Skeptical, the pastor said yes. He wasn't convinced that the teens were serious, but he gave Philip the go-ahead. The rest is history in the making. As one of the spokesmen for the teens told me in halting English, “We want to learn all we can and share it! We are lit on fire with the Word of God!”
I wonder, Beloved, if we realize the significance of a single prayer prayed over and over and over until God moves? Little did the elderly German lady realize where her prayer would lead-that it would be God's means of connecting lives in such a way that from that small church the Name of her precious Lord and His life-changing Word would reach far beyond her neighborhood to her needy nation and to peoples who speak her language beyond the borders of Germany.
How often we are awed at the lame who come to walk, the blind who come to see, and the deaf who come to hear. We're ecstatic over physical displays of the power of God and yet, in a sense, these are not as great as the spiritual display of a single, persisting prayer of faith or act of obedience. Think of how different things would be if Lila had said no to the Pastor-where Philip might have ended up had he not left the company of the young woman who was eager to seduce him toward a different, destructive path!
Is there something on your heart, Beloved? Something you see a need for? Something you long for? Something that greatly troubles you? What have you done with this “something”? Could it be the indwelling Spirit of God who is troubling you about this “something” that can have a far greater impact than you realize?
Have you thought of bringing it to God in prayer? Do you realize that it is “the Spirit Himself [who] intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27)?
Why don't you take a moment now to bring whatever “it” is to your omniscience, omnipotent, omnipresent Father in Heaven. You might be blown away by the chain reaction of your simple prayer and response to the Spirit's leading.