I re-posted this quote on Facebook yesterday, from my long-time friend, missionary Wade Guidry, in Malaysia. It is an original quote from John G. Lake, one of the most incredible of the ‘healing’ pioneers in the late 19th and early 20th century. Lake was filled with the Holy Spirit as a result of the Azusa Street revival – if you don’t know of him, he’s worth knowing about! – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Lake – a man who saw astonishing miracles, and who, directly, is responsible for the flourishing ministry of the ‘Healing Rooms’ today.
PLEASE, please, please – understand that I LOVE prayer, I’m a man committed to praying for people – for salvation, healings, miracles, the raising of the dead. I’m a man committed to praying that God will meet all my needs, according to his riches in Christ Jesus. Thirty four+ years without a salary, and hardly looking anorexic as a result(!!), having been to 106 nations, some of them over 100 times… means that I BELIEVE in prayer. I can’t EVER retire – humanly (though I don’t WANT to retire!) purely and simply because I have no pension (no, lie: I have about £10 a week from the bank I worked for from ’71-’79. That should be enough, shouldn’t it…??!), no security, other than in God, but for the best part of 35 years he’s proved that he’s faithful! Why not the last 35 years of my life? I think 95 years old should do me nicely, then I’d love to ‘do an Enoch’ and walk into the presence of God and ‘he was not’: better still, to do ‘an Elijah’…..!
This quote really blessed me, as it’s something I’ve been speaking/preaching about for many years – the fact that we, as Christians, often ‘hide behind’ prayer as an excuse for inactivity. You might say I’m wrong, it’s heretical….but actually, it’s the truth. How many times do you hear people say ‘I’ll pray about it’, ‘I’ll put out a fleece in prayer’ (or similar) – and then….nothing.
Jesus didn’t say to the disciples, ‘Pray about this, then go and make disciples of all nations’, or ‘Lay your hands on the sick, and they’ll get well, but only do it after you’ve prayed about it, and if you feel it’s right’…. Hmm.
I know it’s the truth, because I’ve done it. And I know countless people who have done it, and are doing it – and have done, and are doing, nothing.
About 3 years ago, I heard a fantastic young man, Jamie Saint, speak. His name might not mean much to you, especially younger people. In these days when books are read at an alarmingly decreasing rate, the story of his family may well become less and less known: and that would be a tragedy. His granddad was an incredibly brave missionary.
When I was young, I grew up on a diet of ‘crazy’ missionary books: ‘Like a Mighty Wind’ by Mel Tari, ‘Tortured for his Faith’ by Haralan Popov, books about Hudson Taylor (especially as much of my life was spent living near Brighton, which was where Hudson Taylor famously walked along the beach, and shouted ‘GOD, GIVE ME CHINA OR I DIE!’), and, of course, the myriad books by the astonishing Richard Wurmbrand, the Romanian Pastor, whom I had the amazing privilege of meeting in the early 1990’s, Eric Liddell, and Gladys Aylward.
These weren’t people who said ‘I’ll pray about it’ when confronted not only with the challenge of spreading the Gospel all over the globe, but giving up everything to do it: not spending years getting another 50 prophetic words to confirm it, waiting until they ‘felt good’ about it. I used to tell the joke, purely non-sexist, you understand, about the truck driver, pulling up behind a young lady in her car at a traffic light. When it turned to green, she stalled, and by the time she started the engine again, it was red. This happened a few times, before the truck driver got out, walked to her car, tapped on her window, and said, ‘What shade of green ARE you waiting for, darlin’….
Jamie Saint’s grandfather was Nate Saint, the pilot of an aircraft carrying four other missionaries – Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Pete Fleming (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Elliot) to the Hourani/Waodani (Auca) Indian peoples, in the Andes. The story is amazingly documented in Jim Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth Elliot’s books, ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ and ‘Through Gates of Splendour’: read them, if you haven’t, please?? All five men were massacred by the tribe. The legendary story is that all five widows went BACK to the tribe, to forgive them for killing their husbands. History reports that the tribe got saved.
Some time later, Nate Saint’s son, Steve, went with his family to visit the tribe, including a young (I think about 10 years old) Jamie. He met his father’s killers, including the man who had actually put the spear through Nate’s head. He was challenged by one of them: ‘Come back here, and live with us, finish what your father began’. When Jamie recounted the story, he said, ‘My dad said “I’ll pray about it!”‘ – to which the tribal said, ‘That’s just a Christian excuse not to do anything’…. What a word of wisdom from a relatively new, untaught Christian, to all of us, with our years of experience and teaching…. They moved there, lived there as a family, and that’s where Steve Saint was baptised, by his dad’s killers…..
I grew up in a Christian culture that in many respects I’m utterly grateful for, but in other respects, have had to repent of, because of what I wasn’t taught, and for ‘learning’ excuses like ‘I’ll pray about it’ (when OFTEN we KNOW that it’s God speaking)…. and – ESPECIALLY – ‘If it’s your will, God’. This stuff needs to be eradicated not only from our vocabulary, but our thought processes…..
God, save us, please, from using prayer as an excuse….instead, let’s USE prayer to break out of our comfort zones, fears, security, possessions, financial security, pension plans….
I have a quotation on the wall right in front of where I sit, using my computer: THE MOST DANGEROUS RISK OF ALL – THE RISK OF SPENDING YOUR LIFE NOT DOING WHAT YOU WANT ON THE BET YOU CAN CAN BUY YOURSELF THE FREEDOM TO DO IT LATER. Ooooohhhhh……..
Friends – even non-friends! – don’t use prayer as a refuge to dodge the action of faith. Please? What shade of green ARE you waiting for?