Normal People Can Do Great Things Too!

Many Years ago, in the year 1787 at Hampton Sidney College in Virginia, there were three students who prayed out in the woods once a week, in the morning. As you can imagine when the other students found out, they began to make fun and persecute them. The president of the college, John Smith, was so impressed with their commitment that he invited the three young prayer warriors to hold their weekly prayer meeting at his house.

The result of those three young students taking a stand in prayer was two hundred students coming to Christ that first year. By 1795 Yale University was experiencing revival as well. By 1802 one third of the student body converted to Christ. Many say this was a direct response to the seeds that were sown in prayer years earlier.

If you think about it, those three students were nothing but normal students with a tenacious burden for God to move on their campus. They weren’t well known preachers or highly talented individuals. They were normal! History doesn’t tell us that they had anything but a desire and boldness to prayer. And maybe we can’t even say they had boldness because they were praying in the woods, possibly to hide from everyone. But these normal students prayed to a God that holds the whole earth in His hands and history records the rest of the story.

We will probably never know the full impact of our prayers until we get to Heaven. But one thing is certain there is power in prayer. In James 5:16-18 we read, “Pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” I translate this verse like this, “The persistent powerful prayer of a believer brings radical results.”

God has granted us an unbelievable privilege in prayer. The problem is that many times we don’t understand the opportunity we have. We fall prey to the thoughts and false understanding that we have to be great to do great things for God! In I Kings 18:41-45 it tells how Elijah, instructed by the Lord, tells King Ahab that it wouldn’t rain for years except at his word. We then read in James 5:17 that Elijah prayed and it didn’t rain for three and a half years.

Then the same normal man prayed again and a cloudburst broke the drought. The Bible says that Elijah was a man just like us with the same opportunities and hindrances to his prayers. (James 5:17) In other words, he wasn’t anything special nor was he God’s favorite. He was just a normal person like you and me. Galatians 2:6 tells us that God is not a respecter of persons. He treats us all fairly and equally, therefore if Elijah had that kind of result so can we.

God uses Normal people that know Him and trust Him to do extraordinary and great things in the earth. Don’t allow the lie of the enemy keep you from doing great things for God. The enemy is always trying to tell us that we are nothing special and can’t be used by God. Being normal doesn’t keep you from doing great things! Being normal positions you to be used by a great God when we trust and rely on Him.

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We Must Have a Change!

Ifootball8t would seem every direction we look there is unrest and turmoil in our cities and abroad in the earth. The majority of the news is filled with tragedy and upheaval.  Whether it’s racial tension in our cities, misuse of power in the government or terrorist activity in different parts of the earth, it seems to be one thing after the other. We must have a change!

When things are not going the way we think they should, in our lives, in our communities or even throughout the world, what should one do?  I believe it’s time to pursue a change that can only happen through God. Let me share a portion of scripture that is addressing this same scenario.

In 2 Chr 7:13-16 we read “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people…”. Here God gives His people the answer of what to do when there is turmoil and catastrophe in their land and all about them. This passage goes on to say, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways…” I love how God doesn’t beat around the bush but says, “if My people” which is talking about Christians or those that believe in God.  Then it goes on to say that if they bend their knee or come into subjection to the authority of God and pray, along with seeking His face and turning from wickedness then God says He will respond.  By hearing their prayers, forgiving their sins and healing their land God will move in their behalf.  In verse 15 He then declares with promise that He would stamp His name there, indicating His approval, as well as, He would be attentive to their prayers in that place forever.

God is talking to the children of Israel in a time of serious trouble.  Letting them know that He has a promise to those that will get serious and begin to move towards Him.  The believer must humble themselves before God, which is an act of surrender and acknowledgment of His Lordship. Then with a heart of desperation we must turn away from the things that have our attention and time and turn towards God and His purposes.

There is more to seeking God than just talking to Him, even though that is part of it.  Seeking is being aggressive in finding Him, doing whatever it takes to do His will. Too often we handle our prayer time as if we were giving our wish list to Santa Claus. God wants us to cry out to Him with a heart that desires His purposes, being willing to flee from the wickedness that entangles us and keeps us from Him.

If the believer does these things then things will be turned around and changed for the better. God gives us the promise that He will change our circumstances when we make a change in ourselves.

When we turn our hearts towards Him through the place of prayer, God will take notice.  He will respond to us in power when we seek Him with all of our heart. There will be a change when we finally surrender our ways to His ways. He has promised that if we turn towards Him and obey Him, He will move in our behalf.

Raised in Prayer

praying with sonThe April sun broke through our kitchen window. I had sleep in my eyes. My siblings and I sluggishly forced ourselves to eat our morning oatmeal. There was nothing uncommon about this morning in 1967. It began like any other typical day. Until, the telephone pierced the silence and brought all of us to attention. My mother answered in her normal cheery voice, but immediately her tone changed. Her cheerfulness went to a devastating, “Oh my God” and from that moment my life changed forever.

Our daily priorities were obliterated by the news that my dad had just suffered a heart attack (that would later become fatal). As my mother hung up she insistently cried, “Everyone go and pray in the front room for your dad.” The sluggish sleepiness that just moments earlier was so prevalent vanished as we all began to cry out to the Lord. In the midst of disaster, we prayed!

Praying became a natural response in times of crises and need in our household, because it was instilled in us as a daily way of life. I can remember how my mother loved to take walks on our ranch in the beautiful Rocky Mountains to pray. On several occasions we would run up the trail to catch her only to find her deep in prayer. It was memories like this that had a profound impact on my life.

I believe some things must be caught not just taught. Joshua had evidently caught something as he followed Moses. The young Joshua saw the results of Moses’ communion with God. He talked to God and then walked in His power every day. Joshua caught the spirit of prayer and abiding in God’s presence. I love Exodus 33:11 where it says, “So the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” Picture this scene: Moses returned to camp and to his responsibilities but Joshua stayed in the Lord’s presence. Evidently Joshua caught something; he understood that a life of intimate prayer and communion with God will result in a walk of power.

A lifestyle of prayer was birthed in my own life through being raised in the shadow of many great men and women of prayer. Even once I had left for college and then continuing down the road to marriage and raising a family; it seemed that God would always place me in the midst of men and women of prayer. Through colleges and seminaries rooted in prayer such as Christ for the Nations Institute and others. Speakers that taught and motivated us to minister out of the place of prayer, as well as, great Pastors such as Dr. Larry Lea, who were used to call a generation to pray. God was definitely orchestrating in me a lifestyle of prayer.

Over the years I have reflected on many of those days and memories and have been encouraged that I had caught an attitude of prayer to sustain me in and through my life. It has kept me through many trying times and has become a lifelong message of mine as well as a book I have published, “Igniting the Power of Prayer”. It is my desire to see God’s people live a life empowered through a life of prayer.