“Every step in the progress of missions is directly traceable to prayer.”

Arthur T. Pierson


When Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream no one could answer, Daniel enlisted the help of friends to pray that they would seek mercies from the God of heaven (Dan. 2:16, 18). “Seek mercies from the God of heaven,” what a wonderful definition of prayer. Daniel pointed out that it was not his education (three years training and studying), but the God of heaven who reveals secrets and sends mercies (v. 28)—and this the result of prayer. Even the Hebrew children’s refusal to bow to Nebuchadnezzar was a prayer statement. Nebuchadnezzar changed their names and demanded they bow with his entire nation to him. Prayer was an acknowledgment of ultimate authority, and the children of God adamantly refused to pray to anyone but Jehovah. They would rather have roasted alive than pretend there was any authority but Jehovah, and for their trust they were rewarded with the presence of Jesus in their furnace (3:17, 25). And that is the real joy of prayer—the presence of Christ. The result of these prayers? The glory of God decreed among every people, nation, and language (v. 29).

The fact of history of missions being the history of answered prayer is a truism missionary David Irwin illustrated well.

In 1983 while in Nairobi, Kenya, I was invited by a…layman to a feast in his house. He also invited an Islamic professor who is an authority on spirits. Over 30 people were present as the professor talked of his control over spirits: “I can put a spirit of barrenness on a woman and she will never bear a child. I can put a spirit on a man driving an automobile and make him crash and his life will be destroyed. I have that power!”

I listened for two hours as the man talked about his destructive powers. Something welled up inside me and I began to pray quietly in the Spirit. At the end of the evening I was asked by the host to close in prayer. Politely, as the occasion required, I thanked God for making us His creatures, sustaining us and creating our universe, for giving us life, children and blessings.

I prayed the things that would be common to a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim. Suddenly these yearnings I’d had for two hours could be contained no longer. I yielded myself to the Holy Spirit and began to pray in a gushing almost uncontrolled way.

I was almost embarrassed, because I didn’t know what the Spirit was trying to do. He so dominated that all I could do was respond, praying in tongues for 10 or 15 minutes. The young man interpreting for me stepped back because he could not interpret that. A holy hush fell in that house, creating an attitude of reverence in the presence of God. I was so overcome when I finally stopped that I began to weep.

Sitting at the far end of the table were two very old men with long white beards; They were scholars of Islam, teachers at the mosque. Out of the response to the gentleness of the Spirit and the work of God that night, one of the men stood with tears running down his cheeks and said: “You know I have read in the Koran all my life about Isa and about the Spirit of God. I would just like to say to you, sir, that tonight we felt the Holy Spirit, and it is like a cleansing to our souls.”[1]

[1] David Irwin. Excerpt from a sermon as quoted in Mountain Movers magazine. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, December 1984. 10.

Prayer Focus: China

Today’s Unreached People Group: Tujia
Population: 9,660,000
Language: Chinese, Manderin
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Evangelical: 1.0%
Estimated Workers Needed: 193

[Source: Joshua Project]

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