I was on my fourth ministry trip to Africa and was in a remote village in north-eastern Mozambique. I had preached the evening message and as is common the inviting pastors wanted me to pray for the people.
Now, in the months prior to this trip the Lord had been growing me in conviction about a number of things, one being the priority of teaching people how to pray for themselves and each other. And so this particular evening under a thatch roof and as the evening breezes came through the walls I declined to pray for the people, opting instead to teach the people how to pray for each other. It was a dismal failure.
I tried a few different ways of teaching, explaining, and of encouraging the congregation to lift each other in prayer before the Lord but nothing seemed to work. Once I was out of ideas my translator, Whisky, continued on with a few more enthusiastic minutes of explaining and directing. It remained a dismal failure.
From what I could tell the people had no idea what we were trying to communicate. Once the service was over and upon returning to the house where we were all staying I was surprised to find the pastor and his right-hand man sitting and waiting for us; I realized that I should explain why I did not pray for his people that evening.
We settled into our chairs around the lone table in the room. Our surroundings lit by a soft single flashlight I spoke of what I had been learning from the house-church movement in northern India and how each person there, young or old alike, ministers in prayers and encouragements, edifying each other in the Lord.
I shared the prophetic words from the Lord as passed on to me from a Kenyan friend and pastor, “This is a new time. A new time on the face of the earth. A new time in My Kingdom on earth. Listen to Me, Please Listen to Me. You must listen to My voice. Do not train the sheep to follow you. Do not train the sheep to listen to your voice. Equip them to be sent forth.”
And I expressed my own increased dissatisfaction over the years of being the ‘one’ praying for people everywhere I went. It hadn’t taken too many ministry trips before I knew that there had to be a better answer than myself being the only one praying. I was intent on teaching others how to pray.
As I finished sharing the pastor immediately asked, “You mean the people can pray?” I’ll never forget that moment. However it had come to be, the congregations that I visited in Mozambique did not know 1. That the people can pray or 2. How to pray.
Back home in North America I have always known that there were those within our churches that were not comfortable with prayer but it was on the field in Africa that I came to see an exaggerated reality of this, stark and raw, and it broke my heart. I have therefore, since that time, been organizing my thoughts and all that I know about prayer.
I am committed like never before to teaching people, young and old, leaders and followers alike, how to pray. This is some of that work. I began a blog called Teaching People How to Pray, to help me speak aloud all I have learned over the many years of my own personal prayer before the Lord, the years of ministering in healing prayer to many individuals, as well as the experiences of leading entire congregations into repentance and healing before the Lord.
And what I came to find is that prayer is surprisingly simple. It did not take me too many weeks to realize that there is not too much to say. In fact, it took great effort to come up with forty entries about prayer; I continued to feel as though I was repeating myself. I am convinced more than ever before that every single person, no matter age or station, can learn how to pray and to experience rich communion with the Lord personally and directly.
This, I am equally convinced, is the key to revival in our communities. Personal prayer is the intersection between God and mankind and it is here that miracles happen. We enter into his presence, we take on his heart, we live out our combined passions, and transformation, restoration, regeneration, and a host of peace, joy and hope follow along.
May we simply enter into the Lord this day and every day hereafter. Amen and amen.
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