Saturday, February 13, 2010

The power of prayer

One of the greatest assets Christians have is prayer. Prayer has great power; greater than we often imagine. Prayer can change nations. To illustrate the point, Derek Prince tells how he was serving with the British Army in North Africa during the Second World War. For more than 700 miles the British had been in continuous retreat; morale, he says, was very low.

There I was, newly converted. I had not had any opportunity to attend church. All I had was the Bible and the Holy Spirit. I thought to myself, I ought to be able to pray about this situation intelligently. I knew I did not know what to pray. So I said in my naive way, "Lord, show me how You want me to pray."

The Lord gave me a specific answer, which was this prayer: "Lord, give us leaders such that it will be to Your glory to give us victory through them." I was less than a year old in the Lord when I prayed that prayer. I prayed it consistently.

Now I did not know what was happening, but God began to move swiftly. The British government appointed a new commander for their forces in the Middle East in North Africa. This man was flown back to Cairo to take command but his plane crashed on landing and he was killed. So at that very important time in the most active theater of the war, the British Forces were left without a commander.

In that situation, Winston Churchill, who was prime minister of Britain at the time, acted more or less on his own initiative and appointed an unknown officer who was flown out from Britain. His name was Bernard Montgomery. Montgomery was a committed Christian and a God-fearing man. He was also a very fine commander and a man of great discipline.

He went to work reorganizing the British forces. He restored discipline and morale; he changed the whole attitude and bearing and conduct of the officers. And then there was fought the well-known battle of El Alamein, which was the first major Allied victory in the whole of that theater of war. It reversed the course of war in North Africa in favor of the Allies.

I was serving with a military ambulance up in the desert, a little way behind the advancing British forces. On the tailboard of the truck there was a little portable radio. I listened as a news commentator described the preparations at Montgomery's headquarters just before the Battle of El Alamein was fought. He described how Montgomery came out and assembled his officers and men and said this: "Let us ask the Lord, mighty in battle, to give us the victory."

As I listened to those words, what I call "heaven's electricity" went through me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. God spoke quietly but firmly to my spirit and said, That is the answer to your prayer.

Thus, I learned early in my Christian experience that prayer can change the course of history. I read an article in a British newspaper on the 100th anniversary of Montgomery's birth in which it said that no British general in human history has ever conducted a more brilliant campaign than Montgomery conducted at that time in North Africa. As I prayed, God raised up a man who would give Him the glory. Do you believe that? Can you believe that your prayers can change history? That God will do things for you as you pray?

Now, some people may say, "Well, that's arrogant. I'm sure there were other people praying." There certainly were other Christians in Britain praying. But this is true as well: Even if just one person prayed, and prayed the prayer of faith, and met God's conditions, God has committed Himself to answer.

There are only two alternatives about prayer. Either God answers prayer or He does not. If He does not answer prayer it is foolish to pray, and if He does answer prayer it is foolish not to pray. I believe He answers prayer. That is my firm conviction. But the lesson I want to emphasize here is God has got to give you the prayer. Receiving it is like taking hold of a spear. When you take it, hold it out. Keep it held out. Don't draw it back.[1]

[1] Secrets of a Prayer Warrior. Baldock, Herts: Derek Prince Ministries International, 2009, p118f.