BY ARLENE WOODROW
Recently, my mother-in-law’ and I were sharing regarding what parts of the newspaper we read and do not read. She named three or four sections she rarely misses, one of them being the obituaries–now that
sounds rather morbid! But, she went on to explain, having lived in Riverside most of her life, she has been acquainted with many local people over the years. In the obituaries she reads of the demise of school friends, teachers, and neighbors of 50 years ago; and of church friends, store clerks, prominent people of the city, ad infinitum. The brief obituaries bring back memories and serve as announcements of recent deaths.
That reminds me of the nostalgia and great sorrow I felt recently when I stumbled across a death notice. Perhaps you also knew the deceased. In the belief that friends of the deceased might be interested, we reprint the death notice.
OBITUARY: MRS. PRAYER MEETING IS DEAD
Mrs. Prayer Meeting died recently at the First Neglected Church, on Worldly Avenue. Born many years ago in the midst of great revivals, she was a strong healthy child, fed largely on testimony and Bible study,
soon growing into worldwide prominence. She was one of the most influential members of the famous Church family.
For the past several years Sister Prayer Meeting had been failing in health, gradually wasting away until rendered helpless by stiffness of knees, coldness of heart, inactivity, and weakness of purpose. At the
last she was but a shadow of her former happy self. Her last whispered words were inquiries concerning the strange absence of her loved ones now busy in the marts of trade and places of worldly amusements.
Experts, including Dr. Works, Dr. Reform, and Dr. Joiner, disagreed as to the cause of her fatal illness, administering large doses of organization, socials, contests and drives, but to no avail. A post-mortem showed that a deficiency of spiritual food, coupled with the lack of faith, heart-felt religion, and general support, were contributing causes. Only a few were present e’ her death, sobbing over memories of her pas’ beauty and power. (Source Unknown)
Not only is this a “clever” way to say something–but unfortunately, it is more truth than fiction. Certainly, there are churches and individuals that continue effective prayer ministries, or we would not see people’s lives changed as much as they are, nor would we see the tremendous growth that the Church of Jesus Christ has experienced in the last couple decades. However, at the same time, it seems comparatively few are currently involved in the kind of travailing prayer and spiritual warfare that brings lasting deliverance and revival. It seems all too often, churches are growing in numbers and people espouse Christianity without the life-changing phenomenon that changes lives to the point of making a difference between the world and the church. Too many churches have become so “successful”–have gone “uptown” to the point of being right down worldly! I’ve heard it said, “The world has become so churchy, and the church has become so worldly, you can’t tell the difference.” There is at least some truth in that!
Every new move of God has been spawned in an atmosphere of fervent prayer by people who have been motivated by their own spiritual thirst and present inadequacies. As they have sought the Lord, they
have received His joy, His righteousness, His love. His vision for the needs of a lost and dying world has transformed them into vibrant prayer warriors who begin interceding for the salvation and deliverance
of others. Revival (not brought in an evangelist’s briefcase–but poured out by God) is the result! Out of the spreading revival fires, many are set aflame. Unfortunately, with the passing of time and succeeding generations growing up (who never experienced the fresh outpouring of God’s power), that “first love” begins to dwindle. It isn’t the fellowship, activities, and organization that put the fire out, but the lack of what brought revival in the first place: PRAYER!!
I’m so glad that the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ is also able to raise up “Mrs. Prayer Meeting” from the dead!
Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus praying. He anguished in prayer alone. He prayed with and for others. His ministry was saturated in prayer. If even Jesus needed to pray for strength, power, end wisdom
for effective ministry, certainly we need to get on our knees. His disciples observed His effective prayer life~day after day communicating with the Father and interceding for others. They sensed that His prayer life set Him on a higher plane~kept Him full of the power of God. They knew their prayer lives were inadequate and ineffective–they hungered for the spiritual power that emanated from the Master. Their response: “Teach us to pray” (Luke 11: 1). May that be our hearts’ cry.
Intercessory prayer is not only for the so-called “spiritual few.” It is an effective means for “believers to stand in the gap–praying victory into the lives of those near and far–individuals, families, churches, governments. Many years ago my grandmother went to her pastor after a challenging sermon on Christian service. She told him that his sermon had stirred her to take action, and apologetically explained that she felt inadequate to teach or take some major position. She told him, “The only thing I can do is pray.” Knowing of her faithful part in the prayer ministry of the Church, the pastor was shocked that she felt her ministry was of lesser value. “Why Mrs. Ely,” he responded, “you are doing the most important work in this Church! God would not be doing the mighty things that we see here, if it were not for people like you who are faithful in intercessory prayer!”
Sometimes, as an intercessor, we stand before God pleading in behalf of another. At other times the Spirit-filled intercessor stands between Satan and his victim, battling against the powers of darkness and establishing the Kingdom of Light in the situation.
Not only should we intercede on behalf of others, but Jesus intercedes for us! He told His disciple, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). He continues to intercede on our behalf: “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them….Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34). The Bible tells us “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we
should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh
intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). With that kind of strength behind us, how can we help but succeed in our prayer life?!
Prayer is invading the impossible! That is not only a book title by Jack Hayford–it is a fact. All in whom the Spirit of God resides (all Christians) are called to intercessory prayer! It is not some mystical way-out wailing for a few “super-spirituals.” Intercessory prayer is simply standing in the gap between light and darkness, between freedom and bondage, between life and death, between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God. As ambassadors of the Kingdom, we have not only the obligation, but the power and authority to come against and destroy the strongholds of evil–we have power and authority with God to establish His Kingdom on earth.
In order to “stand against the wiles [sly tricks] of the devil,” Paul wrote that Christians must “put on the whole armor of God”–the loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the gospel, using the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. But even with the protection provided by this armor, stressing the importance of prayer, Paul went on to say: “…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:11 18). We are to be “watchmen”–aware of the enemy’s movements and also sensitive to the vulnerability of our fellow mortals. Through prayer we are able to intercept or ward l off the attacks of the enemy–in fact, able to “put him on the run! “The power of prayer puts the pray-er on the offensive–making the attack–while the devil is on the defensive. Like
a “bully,” l he takes off when he sees he isn’t dealing with scared “sissies!”
I don’t know about you, but I think it is high time we give the old devil a bad time! We’re on the winning side–it’s about time we act like it! “Be sober; be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith…” (I Peter 5:8-9a).
Prayer changes things! I’ve heard it said, “Prayer doesn’t change things, it changes the pray-en” Well, it does change the prayer, but I have seen prayer change things, too! “The effectual fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Our prayers do make a difference. Why else would Paul have instructed Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all l men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will I have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:1-4). Our praying can make the difference in I quality of life for ourselves, our families–and all within reach of I our prayers. Paul stated the purpose of all this prayer was to make it possible to lead quiet and peaceable lives
of godliness and I honesty. Certainly, our world needs more of that kind of praying!
If more Christians would get on their knees and cry out to God in behalf of the rampant evil that is flooding our nation with drugs, crime, abortions, hurting families, gang killings, serial murders, kidnappings, child pornography, and filth of every kind–there would be less need for those same Christians to wave banners and march in protest. It is good to get involved, and it is good to let our voice be heard, but the bottom line is that our warfare is most effectively done in the prayer closet! It is impossible to force Christian standards
upon the unregenerate. The answer is to pray and work toward an outpouring of the righteousness of God that changes hearts! I have heard it said that we should “Pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on us.” True–we should not always sit back and “do nothing” if our involvement can make a difference, but the most effective half of that couplet is PRAYER!
“But,” you say, “I have prayed—and it didn’t work!” Prayer isn’t like “writing to Santa Claus” or “getting three wishes!” To hear some people talk, one would think God is most concerned with answering prayers (or wishes, if you please) for fancy cars expensive houses, designer clothes, and ocean cruises. James mentioned that kind of prayer: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts….Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God…. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you” (James 4:3-8a).
God does provide our needs and even many of the “wants” we “seek first the Kingdom of God” (see Matthew 6:19-34). How ever, it is obvious throughout the Scriptures that our desires and prayers should
be for eternal things rather than to covet that which “moth and rust cloth corrupt…where thieves break through and steal…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Matthew 6: 19-20).
Paul set a good example. He learned to be content in whatever state he found himself. He served the Lord whether he had little or much, knowing that he could live under any conditions through the power
of Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4: 1113). Not too surprisingly, I have observed over the years that it isn’t unusual for some people to be more victorious with little (when they have to depend on God for sustenance) than with much. Too often concern and time is eroded with involvement with “things” to the neglect of more important activities.
But, what about unanswered prayers for wayward loved ones, family trauma, healing, and other serious problems? Often we do see miraculous and speedy answers to these grave needs, but to be honest we will have to admit that sometimes we pray faithfully for days, weeks, months and maybe even years before “prayer changes things.” In fact, it is true that sometimes the pray-er is the one that changes, while things remain status quo. There is no simplistic answer to such complexities. There are many reasons that some prayers seem to go unanswered. A few are discussed below:
God does not force people to do something against their wills. When we anguish in prayer over others who obstinately go the* own way, when God is obviously dealing with them, the answer comes slower or in a
Some of our trials actually cause us to grow in character–without those experiences we would never mature spiritually. God is not obligated to spoil His children by giving them everything that avoids
discomfort in the process of “stretching.”
Unseen spiritual forces are sometimes interfering, as in the case of Daniel who had to wait for twenty-one days while Michael overcame the evil power (Daniel 10:10-21).
God does not always apply “quick fixes!” Some situations are very complex. God may be performing some long-term miracle that can only be recognized in retrospect after many years. That kind of answer is
usually remembered and appreciated far more than the instant miracles we all like to receive. Too often, what comes easy is also easily forgotten!
What I have discovered, is that God does care–He does hear our prayers and He does answer! The answer may be “yes,” “no,” or “wait awhile.” He may remove our “mountains,” or help us to climb over, tunnel through, or go around the obstacles that hinder us. He always knows what is best! During the long process of “waiting” something good is happening inside the pray-er: we become acquainted with God as we
spend time with Him. We learn a new dimension of fellowship with Him. We learn to truly sit at His feet and worship Him–not for what we can get from Him–but for what we can give to Him. To paraphrase a famous quote, “Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for your God”–we can give him our love, praise, worship, and adoration. In the end, the pray-er gains tremendous strength and is then ready for God to answer his or her heart’s cry!
Prayer of Adoration
O God, to sit before Thee, and breathe Thy Breath
Dost thrill and quicken me, and to “self’ bring death!
Not with petitions sad and long, do I come to thy throne,
But with Praise and a Song, cloth my soul in ecstasy groan!
Fulfillment, sweet fulfillment, enraptures this soul of mine,
Enveloped in You with deep sentiment —
as my body of clay with Thee cost dine! — Arlene Woodrow
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, end not faint” (Isaiah 40:3 1). There are times when we may feel discouraged while we are waiting for an answer. But God is always there to encourage us, and bring us through to victory if we will only listen to His still small voice whispering deep within! “Thou art my servant, I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness…and they that strive with thee shall perish…they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:9b-13).
Some years ago, when I was crying-out to God to help me through overwhelming spiritual hurdles, God breathed into me some words of encouragement that gave me strength to “hang on” when I felt I would
surely fall. He can do the same for you! The secret is to spend time fellowshipping and communicating with Him. You can converse with Him any place and any time, not only when you kneel to pray–but as you go
about your day’s activities, include Him. He’s always there. Tell Him all about your dilemma–then be still and LISTEN awhile! He speaks softly in the depth of your being–whispering inaudible words of life to your weary soul. Whether He guides you to the written Word or simply speaks to your heart as you bask in His presence, you will know when you have heard from Him. Your “situation” may not change immediately–
but the hope you sense, and your new ability to cope, will carry you through until your faith and His faithfulness bring complete victory.
I conclude by sharing some of the words He spoke to me. I can tell you–it is true. He has been faithful–and has never let me down.
Be Still My Child
Trials and temptations come my way; I falter and fail–and of my goals I nearly lose sight. Darkness and pain and turmoil I feel! THEN HE WHISPERS: Be still my child–for I am God! For thy good these trials
have come, To purify you like gold–this fire has come! Don’t despair–turn not thy back; Lean not to shine own understanding, But in all thy ways acknowledge thy God, And I will direct thy paths! This, too, shall
pass and stronger you’ll be! Remember, my child–In your weakness my strength is made known! Lean on me and draw from my strength! Read my Word! Fast and pray!–And your soul’s enemy will rum and run! Wait before me and be still my child–for I am God!
BE STILL MY CHILD! –Arlene Woodrow
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY RALPH WOODROW, P.O. BOX 124, RIVERSIDE, CA 92502, FEBRUARY, 1990. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.