Why do some people seem to come to Christ so quickly and so easily and others seem to resist conversion throughout their lives? I have found one common denominator in salvations. Everyone who either I have personally led to Christ, or who I have been able to dialogue with that have come to Christ through my indirect involvement has told me that they personally knew of someone that has been praying for their salvation. Somebody had paid a price in prayer for those souls! Interestingly, I believe the God who created salvation and the whole universe designed it that way! As with so many things, it is all about God’s love for us.
One night during a revival service in upstate New York, I asked the congregation a question. “Do you believe that if this church held a prayer meeting every night for a week in which everyone that could come would cry out to God in earnest prayer for souls that God would do something in this town?” Well, the response was minimal. So I asked, "Do you believe that if this church held a prayer meeting every night for two weeks in which everyone that could come would cry out to God in earnest prayer for souls to be saved that God would do something in this community?” At that point a few more heads seem to nod yes. So then I upped the ante. “Do you believe that if this church held a prayer meeting every night for a month with fasting for those who could come and those who could fast and would cry out to God for souls to be saved that God would do something in this town?” All of a sudden, everyone, although obviously shocked by the suggestion, seemed to agree that with that degree of prayer emphasis, that God would certainly do something in their town. I concluded by saying “Then I have one simple question. 'Why aren’t we doing it?'”
History is replete with examples of great numbers of people coming to Christ as the result of great prayer efforts. Story after story of historic soldiers of the faith such as David Brainard, George Muller, Praying John Hyde, Charles Finney and his traveling companion, intercessor Father Nash, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitfield, and dozens of others all wrote in different time periods in history of the remarkable fruit of prayer. However, it is very important to note that these men and countless unsung women who often were the leaders of any prayer services in the local churches were simply that; they were leaders. As intercessors, they inspired others to join them producing great concerts of prayer crossing denominational, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. These leaders cried out to God in earnest, believing that as the scripture says in James 5:16b “The effective and fervent prayers of a righteous person avails much!” (NKJV) They also believed Hebrews 11:16b; “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him!”(NKJV) Literally translated, Hebrews 11:16b states, “He is a rewarder of them that seek seek Him.” Because the early translators did not want to repeat the same word twice, they substituted an adjective for the verb. What I like to draw from this is that God is a rewarder of them who seek Him a lot! Or for mathematicians he is a rewarder of them who seek (squared) Him!
So how does all of this tie in with our Heavenly Father’s love plan for the winning of souls? Why is He moved by fervent prayer, either by a weeping mother on her knees, for sometimes years, or by a group of passionate parishioners, who just want to see many people in their little town come to Christ who diligently form determined prayer groups? Simply put, and speaking metaphorically, I believe that God wants His Bride involved very much in the birthing of souls into His Kingdom.
We must first accept that as believers both men and women make up the spiritual Bride of Christ as is taught in the Bible. Almost everything that God does in the spiritual realm is represented symbolically by something that occurs routinely in the natural world. Even our becoming spiritually speaking “born again” has a real world parallel to natural birth. The thought of becoming one with Christ has a spiritual parallel to a man and a woman becoming one flesh in marriage. No, they do not morph into one creature, yet in the best marriages their marriage relationship matures, and their individual personalities eventually grow to become more like each other.
In itself love, even in the world, is an emotion, which must be proven. People say to someone that they “feel love” for the other person. However, until life experiences put that love to the test, it is never truly solidified in the other one’s heart. It is exactly the same way in our relationship with God and in our relationship with our fellow man. Cain asked a very profound question after he had murdered his brother as told in the book of Genesis. “Am I my brother's keeper?” In God’s eyes, I truly believe we all are our earthly brothers’ keepers. Of course, this is not in some literal sense but in the sense of eternal responsibility. I truly believe our love for God and our love for mankind is proven as we both pray for, and love on, those who are lost around us. I believe what moves the heart of God the most to save souls is when His love for souls is married to His love “in us” for souls, and that love radically compels us to pray for those who are lost. This merging of love for souls is the most incredible love story I have ever heard!
When it finally hits us that “it is not God’s will that any should perish but that all should come to eternal life” 2nd Peter 3:9b (paraphrased), praying for the lost will become our daily delight.
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.