The Missing Link: Prayer

Ron English, Editor
Ron English, Editor

Years ago I heard a preacher say from the pulpit, “Every failure in America is a prayer failure.”   I think we can all agree that prayer is missing from too many hearts of our Christians today.  Oh, we might say a quick “thank you” over a meal, or a simple “bless me” as we retire at night, but how much serious praying do we do?  Praying is the one thing you can do that will not add any cost to your daily living, or take away much time from your crowded schedule.  You can pray while you drive—some of you text while you drive.  hope you stop that.  You can pray while you do the dishes or take out the garbage.  You can pray while you bathe the kids.  You can pray when you are out and about.  You can pray at your desk.  Have you spent any time this week doing mischief?  Think about this: What would happen good in your life if you substituted Prayer for that activity that detracts from you as a Christian, as a mother, as a father, as a friend?  Muse on this.  Reflect on Michael Guido’s brief devotional on Prayer this morning.  Let good thoughts flood your mind and heart.  Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., the founder of Bob Jones University, was noted for his pithy sayings.  One of his sayings resonates today, “Do right!  Do right even if the stars fall.” 

You might never have the opportunity to teach a Bible class.  You may never answer the call to preach a sermon, or go away to some distant mission field.  But you could become a minister of prayer.  You could be the best prayer warrior in your church or family.  If prayer changes things–and I believe it does–you can become God’s agent for change through prayer. 

To whom should we pray?  I can almost hear your answer.  “We should pray to God!”  That is a powerful concept, praying to God.  Dr. J0hn R. Rice wrote a book that became America’s best selling book on prayer.  That book, “Prayer, Asking and Receiving.”  His big premise, “Prayer is asking God for things.  The answer to that prayer is receiving what you ask God for.” 

It is said that God delights in answering prayers.  We could provide a great deal of delight in His life and renewed life in ours if we learned how to pray.  Remember that the Spirit helps us pray.  With our determination to pray, and with the help of the Holy Spirit of God who shapes our prayers as He presents them to God–How can we fail in our prayer life? 

 Here is a verse that should encourage you to pray more: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. –Phil. 4:6

Make today a “Prayer Day”  in your heart.  It has  been said that prayer changes things.  What things would you like to see changed in your life?  What changes need to be made in your work?  What changes need to be made in our country?  Make a prayer  list that is private and personal and important to you.  It might start like…

1. America

2. America’s leaders

3. Family

4. Work

5…..

The following is a brief devotional from the pen and heart of the late Michael Guido, www.the-sower.org

                                                          THE PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER
                                                                           Read Luke 18:1

A fellow was worried over his pending court case. He asked his lawyer, “How shall I plead?”

“On your knees,” he answered.

Our Lord invites you to tell Him your needs, and you may pray kneeling, standing, or sitting.

You may pray for any need – for rain, as did Elijah; for length of life, as did Hezekiah; or for a son, as did Hannah.

You may pray any time – in the morning, as David did; at noon, as Daniel did; and at midnight, as Silas did.

You may pray anywhere – in the garden, like our Lord; on the street, like Jairus; or in the temple, like Paul.

So pray. Remember, God specializes in the impossible.

Prayer: Father, we now turn to Thee in prayer; trusting Thee with our lives and our loved ones; waiting upon Thee to bless us with a happy, useful, victorious life: through Christ. Amen.

That’s My King!

Dr. Shadrach Meshach (S.M.) Lockridge (March 7, 1913 – April 4, 2000)

Shadrach Meshach Lockridge was born March 7, 1913, in Robertson County, Texas, the oldest of eight children and the son of a Baptist minister. A graduate of Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, he worked for two years as a high school English teacher. In 1940 in Dallas, he felt led to preach. In 1941 he married Virgil Mae Thomas but they never had any children.

In 1942, he accepted his first pastorate at Fourth Ward Baptist Church in Ennis, Texas. In August 1952, he was named pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego where he served until retiring in 1993.S.M. Lockridge

During Dr. Lockridge’s tenure at Calvary Baptist, a predominantly African-American congregation, his ministry touched the lives of more than 100,000 people. He preached at crusades, revivals, religious rallies and evangelistic conferences around the world.

He also served in key regional, state and national positions with the Baptist Church, including being elected the first president of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America.

He held doctorates and numerous honorary degrees and was often sought as a public speaker, even after he retired in 1993. He served as guest lecturer at numerous schools and universities and on the faculty of several others, including the Billy Graham School of Evangelism.

Dr. Lockridge was active in the civil rights movement, and under his leadership Calvary Baptist hosted several of its leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson.

His best-known message is a six and a half minute description of Jesus Christ, known as “That’s my King!” for Lockridge’s repeated refrain.

http://www.voiceofvictoryonline.com/Sermons.htm

http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._M._Lockridge

Unusual Search for Jesus

Ron Zywotko
Ron Zywotko

A story of personal evangelism told to this editor by Ron Zywotko. 

 

I was in Seattle preparing for my next meeting when I received a call from the pastor. He confirmed my engagement and told me of a man who was leaving soon for his second tour of duty in Iraq. He said the man had surrendered his life to serve God as an evangelist. Now, when have you heard of anyone doing that. I have, as I am sure you have, known of men to surrender to be a missionary, or a pastor, but almost never (in my case never) to be an evangelist. Praise the Lord!

The pastor asked if I would take this young man out with me to do personal evangelism in the public places of Seattle. He wanted him to gather some first hand experience from a man who has been doing this kind of work for the last 27 years. I assured him I would be happy to do this and we arranged a time to meet.

As is my custom, I arrived at the church early—about two hours early. It was unseasonably hot for Seattle and I remained outside in my car and prayed. I normally don’t spend a solid hour in prayer—especially in my car on a day like that one was, but I felt keenly I must have God’s power. I wanted this young man to have a blessed experience. So I prayed and I prayed some more.

When the time arrived for us to meet we were together and exchanged greetings. The pastor left and off we went to see about winning some poor lost souls to Christ.

When I tell you that we had a rough time of it, I am not joking. One person after the other rejected my approach. No one, it seemed, had the slightest interest in hearing anything about Jesus. We went into several public stores, a coffee shop, a market, a restaurant. The fish were not biting–they were snapping! Get out of here! Leave us alone! Nothing doing!

After a good long while, even I was discouraged. Remember, this is my line of work. Outside evangelism is my ministry. I am supposed to be gifted at this work. I am supposed to demonstrate that I have God’s power for this work. Nothing! People shouted—yes, shouted, profanities. I was ordered out of places. Angry people made hand gestures at us representing their attitude toward us and the Lord.

I was greatly disappointed, because I had hoped to show this young man how to engage people in public places and prayerfully win them to Christ. That didn’t happen. I felt badly for me, and I felt awful for him. I don’t think I have ever had an afternoon with so many painful rejections as that one.

I paused for a moment and walked over to a pole where I leaned my body against it and started praying. I remember telling the Lord my concerns and even fussed at Him a little. I wondered out loud to Him what good did that hour of prayer do? I felt like a complete failure.

I opened my eyes and the first thing I noticed was a young woman coming toward me from across a parking lot. She walked almost straight to me. I moved out to speak with her and asked her if she could possibly help me. I have used this approach a number of time to start a conversation. I asked, “Lady, I am not from here. I am from Tennessee. I wonder if you could give us some directions?” She was an Asian lady and she very kindly responded, “I will help you if I can. Where do you wish to go.?” I asked, “Could you give me directions to Heaven? I want to know how to get to Heaven.”

I thought the young lady would cry. She had a most pained expression form on her face, her countenance fell and she was obviously saddened at that question. She was not offended in the slightest.

She replied, “Mister, you have asked the wrong person. You see I am from India. My parents are steeped in their own religion over there, I left India to come to America where I hoped I would find this salvation that I know so little about. I visited one church and one religious group after another, but to no avail. I have been here for seven years and no one, it seems, knows the answer. I am very, very sorry that I can’t help you. I, too, want to know how to get to Heaven.”

I smiled and then told her that I could assist her. I explained that I was out here on the streets looking for people who wanted to know about Jesus. I asked, “Would you permit me to tell you how you can become a Christian?”

“Oh, yes. Please tell me.” And I did and right there on the sidewalk in Seattle I shared the Gospel with this Asian lady and she bowed her head asking Jesus to come into her heart and save her soul. I am happy to report Jesus, indeed, saved her on the spot. She was so happy. I asked if she had any word for us. This is what she said.

“I arrived in America some seven years ago. I have been searching for Jesus. I didn’t know how to search for Him. I didn’t know the right questions. I visited many of your churches and religious meetings and talked with numbers of people. It seems no one really knew the answer, at least no one that I was able to speak earnestly with. Then, today, just a few minutes ago, I was over at that Pizza place—she turned an pointed to it. I had ordered my pizza and the waiter said we are rushed it will take about 30 minutes. You can take seat, or you can walk around the mall while your order is being prepared. I took a seat at a table and was there about a minute when I had the strangest impression to get up and walk over here. I was compelled to come to where you were stranding. I didn’t know why. So that is what I was doing when you spoke to me.”

“Now I know why, but over at the Pizza place I didn’t know. God was ordering me to come to you and get my prayers answered.” She didn’t know it, but God was answering my prayers, too.

She gave us her name, her address, her phone number and her email address. She was so happy to be a Christian. We, too, were happy. The young man rejoiced with me and asked, “Does this kind of thing happen often with you.” I laughed and said, “Sure, all the time.” Then I told him the truth. This is the first time in 27 years it has been this way.

He left for his tour of duty armed with a remarkable answer to prayer and a testimony I am sure he will repeat many times in his ministry. I know I will. Winning souls is a work we are commanded to do, but we must never forget the salvation part is entirely God’s work. He does His work in mysterious ways and he uses all kinds of people to do it. Here was a case where He brought the workers and the sinner together under unusual circumstances. To God be the glory!

Editor’s Note: I have known Ron Zywotko since 1972.  We worked together in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  He has been a frequent guest in my home.  He is an unusual human being.  To say he is unorthodox would be a gross understatement.  He may very well be America’s last circuit riding preacher.  He goes from church to church to church each week.  Usually preaches in 150 congregations each year and will have from 50 to 200 people saved in his personal visitations.  I  don’t know of another soul that has the discipline or drive to do this kind of work week after week.   He rarely stays in a motel taking rest in church prophet chambers or private homes.  Most of his worldly goods are stored in his car.  I am glad to report this story here with complete confidence it is true.