In the missions circles that I hang out with, there is much talk about great movements of revival among people groups, cities, or geographical areas. Often overlooked, however, is the role of prayer. In our Western culture, it is hard to understand things we don’t see—like the effect of prayer on the people and events that we pray for. Only heaven knows the extent of how prayer really is the driving force behind so much true spiritual fruit.
I am coming to see more and more how prayer triggers chains of events that accomplish God’s purposes here on this earth. So often the bigger plans of the Lord are not a single event, but rather a series of events. The life of Joseph is an excellent example. When he was just a youth God gave him dreams of rulership. But it took a chain of events, and many years, before God’s plan for him was established. And if we look at his life in those in-between years, we see anything else but him ruling. We see him as a slave, being falsely accused, or even in jail. But God brought about His purpose for Joseph in His time. All of the things that happen to Joseph in those 13 years of adversity were a chain of events that brought about the fulfillment of God’s plan. So much of what God does, He does through an intricate and divinely orchestrated chain of events.
This chain of events might be illustrated by a line of dominoes falling, each triggering the next one to fall. Or, perhaps it might be described as an avalanche, or a rock slide. A rock slide usually starts off rather slow, with one or two rocks tumbling down. But those rocks hit other rocks, and they hit others. Before long there is a rock slide that is capable of knocking down trees, buildings, and even towns! It is out of control! Prayer is what triggers God to move in mighty ways, and it is prayer that sustains movements, which are divine “chains of events.”
We all marvel at the chain of events that took place in the early church, recorded in the book of Acts. These events shook the status quo and were reported to have “upset the world” (Acts 17:6). But all this got started with 120 saints praying for many days in an upper room! A quick look at revivals and awakenings throughout church history would reveal that usually there was a rather small group of prayer warriors that consistently prayed and interceded.
In 1990 I was a part of a church planting team that moved to Mexico City. At that time, church analysts estimated that under 1% of the population were evangelical Christians. Yet, by the year 2000, they were saying that probably 15-18% were born again Christians. That is amazing growth for just ten years! What most people don’t know is that there was a church in Joppa, Maryland (called Chesapeake Covenant Church at that time) that was seriously praying for Mexico City. They did so for probably 3-4 years. We were bombarded with letters, passages, impressions from the Lord from some of these prayer warriors. They were not just praying for our particular church plant, but also for all of Mexico City. Only heaven knows the impact of those prayers and intercessions. Certainly the hundreds of thousands (probably over a million) people who came to know the Lord in those ten years don’t know. Am I saying that all that happened in Mexico City was a direct result of these prayer warriors? I don’t know. There may have been other groups of saints doing the same. But I know this church had a major part in triggering a chain of events that resulted in revival taking place.
Just imagine one day when we all gathered around the throne, the appreciation you will feel toward those who prayed YOU into the Kingdom. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
I just arrived back home from another trip to Paris. I have been making about three trips there a year to meet with some younger workers and leaders, encouraging them in planting new churches, making disciples, and Biblical church life. We are amazed to see God raising up a generation of young leaders with a fresh vision from God for His Church in their city. This past trip I was astonished by the rapid chain of events that are happening. This feels very much like the beginning of something much bigger than what I had ever anticipated. On this trip I began to think back on the chain of events that led to this time. They started shortly after a number of people here at our church in Frisco spent a month in Paris in 2006 and prayed 24 hours day and night for God to move in that city. Is that a coincidence? I think not. And I might add there may well have been others praying in a similar way. But I do know that our collective prayer triggers chains of events that bring about His purposes on earth.
God delights to use the “small” and the seemingly “insignificant” to accomplish His plans……sometimes in a distant country. And most often His plans are accomplished more by prayer than lots of activity. Prayer prepares the ground, the culture, and the hearts of people for God’s work to be done and received. Prayer is something that all of us can do. We must put aside our Western thinking that tries to evaluate what we do (such as prayer) by what we can see. Only heaven knows the impact we are making through prayer!
May God raise up bands of prayer warriors who will dislodge big rocks to get the chain of events moving that will impact peoples and cities around the world!