Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Pastor’s Conference hosted by the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville Florida. It was wonderful time of refreshing for me spiritually to hear some of the greatest preachers of our day and a time of intense learning and understanding of the current trends and issues in the world today. It was encouraging also to dialogue with other pastors and ministries about what the Lord is doing in and through these churches and pastors. At one of the sessions I attended, Henry Blackaby, the author of “Experiencing God” spoke to us about “God’s Conditions for Revival.” Many of you would be familiar with this study but many of you may not know that the Lord has profoundly used this “Experiencing God” study in so many incredible ways literally around the world. Dr. Blackaby shared how the prison warden at the Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana went through the study and in turn made the workbook available to all the inmates at his prison who wanted one, particularly focused on those inmates awaiting execution on death row. What has been happening in that prison is an absolute miracle as many of these inmates have come to know the Lord Jesus as Savior and revival is happening there. Dr. Blackaby shared from Matt.16:18-19 of Jesus’ promise to build His Church in such a way that the gates of Hell will not be victorious against the church. He made the point that the manifest presence and power of God will cause the doorposts of Hell to fall down around where His church is engaged in Kingdom business. However, he warned that revival does not happen unless the church repents first and becomes engaged in significant prayer efforts to learn of God’s will and work in their community.
Later in the conference we heard from Jim Cymbala, Pastor of the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York. Pastor Cymbala’s church regularly has about 2000 people who come to their Tuesday night prayer meeting where the people gather to pray for God’s manifest presence and power to be made known there. Pastor Cymbala preached from Acts 12 regarding Peter’s imprisonment while “constant prayer was being offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:5). As I listened to these men speak about the need for prayer in the life of God’s people, I was reminded of a paper I wrote in seminary tracing the influence of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon in London. It is well documented that Spurgeon had hundreds of people praying for him in the basement of the Metropolitan Tabernacle nearly constantly. Spurgeon called it the “boiler room” and affirmed that the ministry of those prayer warriors pleading with God to work in mighty ways to bring people to faith in Christ in London and literally around the world the key to what God was doing there at that time.
As I meditated and thought about prayer in the life of our church and the desire to see the manifest presence and power of God taking place in this community, I wondered why we don’t see the gates of Hell crumbling around us. I wondered why we don’t see people being saved and baptized on a regular basis. Sadly, I also wondered how much of what we do around Calvary can be done and is being done without the manifest presence and power of God? In other words, how much of our ministry could and would take place if God didn’t show up? These thoughts convict me in my own life and I’m reminded of Jesus’ admonition to His disciples in John 15:5 that He is the vine, we are the branches and those who abide in Him bear much fruit. Jesus also said “without Me, you can do nothing.” Oh sure, we have much activity, we have a full calendar, but how much of it depends on the manifest presence and power of God? Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying all of what we’re doing isn’t bathed in prayer because I know we have people praying, but I am trying to make us think in an honest fashion about prayer or the lack of it.
I believe we will see and experience the manifest presence and power of God if we will be willing to humble ourselves and pray. I will be intensifying my prayer efforts and I am asking you to join with me. I will be asking God to allow us see the gates of Hell crumble around us and that lives will be transformed by His grace and mercy. I will be praying that God will allow us at Calvary to see His mighty work, that His power and glory will be made known in this place and that His kingdom will be expanded, and that the Lord will do a fresh work in all of our lives. I long for the manifest presence and power of God, from my little corner of the world to yours…
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
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