Editor’s note: Over the past years, China Partnership has dedicated itself to intentional prayer for the church in China. As CP increasingly emphasizes prayer as part of our calling, we have worked with John Smed of Prayer Current to hone our prayer muscles. He shared this urgent call to prayer with Chinese leaders and pastors at a recent gathering. The following has been edited from transcriptions of the original talk.
What does the ascension of Christ mean? What does it look like? I will share a few examples from my life. Some months ago we were in an authoritarian country with a group of men and women, circled in prayer. We were in the downtown capital, in front of a government building. Soldiers were there with their guns. Beside us was a lady who was reading tarot cards. She had magic beads on (there is a great deal of folk religion in this country). I prayed, “God, send her away!” Three brothers went over and talked to her and explained the gospel to her while we were praying. She took off her beads, and asked for a Bible. We experienced ascension power as we prayed.
Here is another story. A few months ago, I was going through the mountains in my car. There was a snowstorm, and I picked up two hitchhikers. We had a long conversation. The young lady explained to me that she met God when she was younger, but she had forgotten and left him. I asked where she was from. She said, “I’m from Brazil.” There are two hundred million people in Brazil, and I know one person. I said, “He’s from this town.” She said, “Oh, I am from that place.” I told her his name and said, “He is the pastor of the Brazil Presbyterian Church.” She said, “That’s the church where I met God.” And I knew I was the answer to her mother’s and father’s prayer to lead her back to Jesus.
When you pray, appointments happen. A friend of mine in India put it this way: “When you pray regularly, irregular things happen regularly.”
Would You Pray With Us Today?
I was driving a few weeks ago near my home. A young French Canadian couple was hitchhiking; they had come to pick fruit in the orchards. We had a conversation. I said, “Why are you coming this time?” They said, “Two things. One, we need to make some money. Two, we want to find a reason to live.” I just picked them up because they looked lonely and needed a ride, and I had an hour of gospel conversation with them. I left them with a book on the gospel and prayer, and when I dropped them off, they did not hitchhike, they stopped to sit down and read.
This is ordinary Christianity after the ascension. If your life is boring, dear friend, you are not praying to the ascended Jesus. If your leadership is boring and not enjoyable, you forgot to fix your eyes on Jesus. In your heart, give your heart back to God. How should we pray ascension prayer? Pray boldly. You are in the throne room! You are not a guest. You are not a visitor. You are not a servant. You are not a housekeeper. You are a child of God in the throne room of the king! You do not need to ask for permission to talk to God. John Newton wrote, “Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring.”
Pray for boldness, but also pray for power and for appointments to share your faith. Let me tell you one more story. It is not a story; it’s the truth. In the year of 2000, a group of Christians decided to pray for the Muslim world. Up to the year of 2000, there were almost no converts to Christianity in the Muslim world. Christians all over the world began to pray during the thirty days of Ramadan. Beginning in 2000, hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands and now well over two million people have come to faith in Christ in the Muslim world.
If you haven’t been praying: repent! Pray for boldness in prayer and proclamation. Pray for appointments, so people can be saved. Pray, believing you are in the throne room of the king. Let us pray…Amen!
Have you seen God answer your everyday prayers with abnormal events?