“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
I would like to share with you an excerpt from a longer article on the power of prayer by Billy Graham. Mr. Graham (now 93 years old) has been used by the LORD to reach many lives around the globe with the saving gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Few men in the history of Christianity have experienced the blessed joy of leading so many people to the cross of Jesus Christ for salvation in the same way that he has and for this we are to give all the praise, glory and honor to the God for “salvation belongs to the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). Mr. Graham’s success can be attributed to nothing but the power of prayer. O, how we need more great men of prayer in our day! Here is what Mr. Graham wrote on prayer on January 3, 2011:
There is only one power available to change the course of history, and that is the power of prayer—the prayer of God-fearing, Christ-believing men and women.
But today we have come to a place where many people regard prayer as simply a formality. We have no sense of coming to grips with God, except for the continuation of a venerated tradition. Yet how can we go on unless there is a renewed emphasis on prayer?
Thousands of people pray only in times of great stress, danger or uncertainty. Christ instructed His followers always to pray. So fervent and so direct were the prayers of Jesus that once when He had finished praying, His followers turned to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
From one end of the Bible to the other is the record of those whose prayers have been answered—those who turned the tide of history by prayer; those who fervently prayed, and God answered. Abraham prayed, and so long as he prayed, God did not destroy the city of Sodom where Abraham’s nephew Lot lived.
Hezekiah prayed when his city was threatened by the invading armies of the Assyrians under the leadership of Sennacherib. The entire army of Sennacherib was destroyed and the nation was spared for another generation—because the king had prayed.
Elijah prayed, and God sent fire from Heaven to consume the offering on the altar he had built in the presence of God’s enemies. Elisha prayed, and the son of the Shunammite woman was raised from the dead. Jesus prayed at the door of the tomb of Lazarus, and the one who had been dead for four days came forth. The thief on the cross prayed, and Jesus assured him that he would be with Him in Paradise. Paul prayed, and churches were born in Asia Minor and in Europe. Peter prayed, and Dorcas was raised to life to have added years of service for Jesus Christ.
John Wesley prayed, and revival came to England. Jonathan Edwards prayed, and revival came to Northampton, Mass., where thousands of people joined the churches. History has been changed time after time because of prayer, and it could be changed again if people went to their knees in believing prayer.
What a glorious thing it would be if millions of us would avail ourselves of the privilege of prayer! Jesus Christ died to make this communion and communication with the Father possible. He told us of the joy in Heaven when one sinner turns from sin to God and breathes the simple prayer: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
When the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray,” the Savior answered by giving them His model petition, “The Lord’s Prayer.” However, that was only part of His sacred instruction. In scores of passages Jesus Christ offered further guidance, and because He practiced what He preached, His whole life was a series of lessons on prevailing prayer. Jesus had only three years of public ministry, yet He was never too hurried to spend hours in prayer.
How quickly and carelessly, by contrast, we pray. Snatches of memorized verses hastily spoken in the morning, then we say goodbye to God for the rest of the day until we rush through a few closing petitions at night. This is not the prayer program that Jesus outlined. Jesus pleaded long and repeatedly. It is recorded that He spent entire nights in fervent appeal. But how little perseverance and persistence and pleading we show!
The Scripture says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This should be the motto of every follower of Jesus Christ. Never stop praying, no matter how dark and hopeless your case may seem. A woman once wrote me that she had been pleading for 10 years for the conversion of her husband but that he was more hardened than ever. I advised her to continue to plead. Then some time later I heard from her again. She said that her husband was gloriously and miraculously converted in the eleventh year of her praying. Suppose she had stopped praying after only 10 years!
Our Lord frequently prayed alone, separating Himself from every earthly distraction. I would urge you to select a room or corner in your home where you can regularly meet alone with God. That quiet, secluded, soul-to-God praying in which you come to the mercy seat can be your greatest blessing.
As we observe the prayer life of Jesus, we notice the earnestness with which He prayed. The New Testament records that in Gethsemane He cried out with a loud voice, that in the intensity of His supplication He fell headlong on the damp ground of the garden, that He pleaded until His sweat became “like great drops of blood” (Luke 22: 44).
For the rest of this article please follow this link: Power When You Pray.
For more lessons from Billy Graham, please follow this link: Q & A: Billy Graham on Aging, Regrets, and Evangelicals.
For more on prayer, I recommend: Men of Prayer Needed, by E. M. Bounds (1835-1913).