WHEN you receive this issue of THE MINISTRY, the MISSION '72 evangelistic meetings will be about to begin. The big question is, What more can you do to help make them a success? You will, of course, give the meetings the support of your own faithful attendance, even if other important matters may need to be postponed. Then you will invite others with last-minute visits and telephone calls, going out of your way if need be to bring them to the meetings. As an elder, you may have some very special assignments in connection with the meetings. You, in fact, may be the speaker.
But all attempted preparations for success will be futile unless the most important element is made use of prayer power. All else devoid of prayer is but beating the air. Prayer takes precedence. It tops the list of priorities. Prayer will give direction as plans are laid and executed. Prayer will give guidance to the homes of prospective candidates for the message and the kingdom. Prayer will lead members of the community to respond to the advertising that comes their way. It will give power to the preaching. It will counteract Satan's diversive and obstructive tactics so often evident when a special work of the Lord is planned. It will bring souls to repentance and to an acceptance of Christ and the message.
A Necessity, Not an Option
Prayer is the foundation of every aspect of the work to be done. This is a simple, indisputable fact. Prayer is not an option, but an absolute necessity. No prayer, no power; little prayer, little power; much prayer, much power. To enter the MISSION '72 evangelistic meetings without an earnest call to special prayer is like starting on a long trip in a shiny new automobile without gasoline in the tank.
Many churches are planning an all-night prayer meeting to precede the opening night. How about your church? Some of our most successful evangelists would never think of beginning a series of meetings without such a plan. Remember--much prayer, much power!
Encourage even those who may be con fined to their homes because of illness with the assurance that through prayer they can play an important part toward the success of the meetings.
How God Answered Prayer
R. A. Torrey, in his excellent volume The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power, tells of this experience that came to Dwight L. Moody. It was after the great Chicago fire and Mr. Moody went to Eng land for a rest. He did not intend to preach, but to listen to some of the great preachers of England and have his own soul refreshed. However, he accepted an invitation to preach in a Congregational church in the north of London. Sunday morning as he preached he had great difficulty. He seemed to have no power or liberty. It seemed "like pulling a heavy train up a steep grade." He regretted having accepted the invitation. Then he recalled that he had agreed to preach again that night. He sought release from the evening appointment, but to no avail.
But as he began to preach that night "it seemed as if the powers of an unseen world had fallen upon that audience." At the close of the sermon he was led to make a call. Five hundred arose, indicating their acceptance of Christ. He thought there must have been a misunderstanding as to the nature of the call. It was for the unconverted who wished to accept Christ as a personal Saviour. He announced an aftermeeting for those who really wished to accept Christ. They streamed in and the Lord worked marvelously.
The next day Moody had to go to Ireland, but he announced that the following evening the pastor would be speaking and urged those who meant business to return. In Ireland, Moody received a telegram stating that there were more people out on Monday night than the previous evening and that "a revival has broken out in our church and you must come back and help me." Moody returned from Dublin and held a series of meetings that added hundreds of people to the churches of north London. This led to an invitation that later took him all over England for the great work that stirred the whole world.
What had made the great change? Behind the scenes some earnest prayers had been offered. There were two sisters who were members of that Congregational church, one of whom was bedridden. When the other sister returned from church that Sunday morning and made known that D. L. Moody had been their speaker, the invalid sister was greatly stirred. "What, Mr. Moody, of Chicago!" She had heard of his work in America and had been praying that God would send him to London and to her church. "If I had only known," she declared, "I would have eaten no breakfast, I would have spent the whole morning in fasting and prayer." Then she continued, "Now, sister, go out, lock the door, do not let anyone come to see me. Do not let them send me any dinner. I am going to spend the whole afternoon and evening in fasting and prayer." And so she prayed, and God heard and wonderfully blessed.
We Must Ask
As we launch the MISSION 72 meetings we cannot take for granted the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Mrs. White states:
The circumstances may seem to be favorable for a rich outpouring of the showers of grace. But God Himself must command the rain to fall. There fore we should not be remiss in supplication. We are not to trust to the ordinary working of providence. We must pray that God will unseal the fountain of the water of life. --Testimonies to Ministers, p. 509.
As leaders of the church, do we take these words seriously? Do we really believe them? If not, then all our plans and labors might just as well be put to rest, for without prayer and the Holy Spirit all is empty and meaningless. But if our hearts respond and we are prepared to enter into this experience of earnest seeking after God and His power, then the results we seek are sure to follow.
As leaders in our churches, let us sound the call to prayer. If we really believe that time is running out, if we really sense the urgency of the hour in which we live, and if we in faith accept the many promises of power through prayer, then surely now is the time to pray as we have never prayed before.
MISSION '72 will then be all that God wants it to be. The work will soon be finished. The long anticipated day of our Lord's return will be at hand.
My prayer: Dear Lord, make me above all else a man of prayer. Help me to look more constantly to Thee. Guide me in all that I do. Then bless our church, especially MISSION '72. Bring to our entire congregation the deep spirit of earnest prayer and seeking after Thee for power. God forbid that we should enter upon this important soul-winning endeavor in our own strength. And as we pray, give us faith to claim the promise. In Jesus' name. Amen.