The prayers of great men, moved by God to petition His throne, have changed the world.
The Protestant reformation was powered by prayer. “From the secret place of prayer came the power that shook the world in the Great Reformation. There, with holy calmness, the servants of the Lord set their feet upon the rock of His promises. During the struggle at Augsburg, Luther did not pass a day without devoting three hours at least to prayer, and they were hours selected from those the most favorable to study” (GC 210.1).
John Wesley, leader of the revival movement that later gave birth to the Methodist Church, would rise at 4 every morning to seek God for the first four hours of the day. In his later years Wesley was known to spend up to eight hours a day in prayer.
The Haystack Prayer Meeting in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in August 1806 was the spark that ignited American Protestant missions. On that day a group of five spiritually minded friends were outside praying together for foreign missions. Some accounts say there was a sudden thunderstorm as they were praying, which caused the men to take refuge under a haystack. As they continued to gather weekly to pray, mission organizations were created that over the years have sent many laborers into the field.
In 1985, Adventist Frontier Missions was born from the prayers of a small group of seminary students and like-minded friends with a passion for reaching the unreached of foreign lands.
Though prayer brought these changes, it is important to remember that prayer does not change God’s intentions. Rather prayer is to “bring us into harmony with God. When we make request of Him, He may see that it is necessary for us to search our hearts and repent of sin. Therefore He takes us through test and trial, He brings us through humiliation, that we may see what hinders the working of His Holy Spirit through us” (COL 143.1). This must be true, because if we feel that we can manipulate God to do what is desired, then, as one of our missionaries puts it, we act as Seventh-day Adventist animists.
However, prayer does allow God to do things that He would not do unless asked. “It is a part of God’s plan to grant us, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not bestow did we not thus ask” (GC 525.2). Prayer somehow opens the way for God to influence those we pray for, otherwise He would not instruct us to pray (Matt. 9:38, Matt. 26:41, Mark 13:33, Eph. 6:18, James 5:13-14).
In 1908, James O. Fraser joined the China Inland Mission. Since he was a keen climber, he reveled in climbing through the mountains to meet with the Lisu people, a Tibeto-Buman language group. After years of doubt and difficulty, in 1916 he and his fellow missionaries started to see scores of families convert to Christianity and experience freedom from fear of the spirits. Fraser then organized people into strong indigenous churches that would withstand the persecution of the Japanese and communists in the decades to follow. It is reported that by 1990 over 90 percent of the Lisu in China were Christian.
What caused the turnaround in 1916? James believed it was the power of prayer, specifically the prayers of his supporters. “He was feeling more and more that the prayers of God’s people were what called down blessing on the work. It didn’t matter whether those people were directly engaged in the work or not. ‘Paul may plant and Apollo water, but it is God who gives the increase;’ he explained, ‘and this increase can be brought down from heaven by believing prayer, whether offered in China or England.
“‘We are, as it were, God’s agents—used by Him to do His work, not ours. We do our part, and then can only look to Him with others, for His blessing.’
“Because of this James saw that Christians at home could do as much for foreign missions as those actually on the field. ‘I believe it will only be known on the Last Day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of earnest believers at home . . . Solid, lasting missionary work was done on the knees. ‘What I covet more than anything else is earnest believing prayer,’ he wrote. ‘I should like you continually to pray, not only for the salvation of outsiders but for the blessing on those who have definitely accepted Christ . . . I want to be downright in earnest myself, and to be filled with the Spirit’” (Crossman, Eileen Fraser, Mountain Rain).
As a supporter of AFM mission-aries, you can change the world. First by financially making a Christian presence possible in lands currently held by Satan and his demons, and second by praying that the walls of hostility against the gospel would be broken down and praying for our missionaries to be in harmony with God and filled with the Holy Spirit.
For ideas of how to pray for missionaries, visit
afmonline.org. Click on Resources, Promotional, and then Pray Brochure.