As World Challenge sets out plans for our Expect conferences, we are praying and anticipating God’s goodness and power to be revealed in new ways.
In his book A Praying Life, Paul Miller opens with a story about camping with his kids. He had come down from the campsite to find his daughter standing by the car, looking upset. When he asked her what was wrong, she said her contact lens had dropped onto the forest floor covered with a million leaves, twigs and bark chips.
Paul suggested they pray, but his daughter burst into tears. “What good does it do? I’ve prayed for Kim to speak, and she isn’t speaking.”
Kim is her little sister who has autism and developmental delays that have resulted in her also being mute. Paul explains, “Prayer was no mere formality for Ashley. She had taken God at his word and asked that he would let Kim speak. But nothing happened. Kim’s muteness was testimony to a silent God…. Few of us have Ashley’s courage to articulate the quiet cynicism or spiritual weariness that develops in us when heartfelt prayer goes unanswered….
“I needed help when Ashley burst into tears in front of our minivan. I was frozen, caught between her doubts and my own. I had no idea that she’d been praying for Kim to speak. What made Ashley’s tears so disturbing was that she was right.
“God had not answered her prayers. Kim was still mute. I was fearful for my daughter’s faith and for my own.” Quietly crying out for God to meet his daughter in her uncertainties that were much larger than a lost lens, Paul prayed aloud, “Father, help us to find this contact.”
They bent down together. There, perfectly balanced on a leaf like a dewdrop, was the missing contact lens.
Transforming the Heart and Spirit
Seeing our nation go through its struggles in the last two decades has driven many good Christians to their knees to beg God for mercy and healing. Seeing the creeping secularism and disinterest in the church, especially among the youth, has driven many pastors to their knees to beg for revival.
We may find quiet cynicism or spiritual weariness building up as we wait for God’s answer. It’s hard to keep our expectations from being choked by the possibility of disappointment.
World Challenge began its Expect conferences in acknowledgement of this struggle that so many believers and ministry leaders face.
“Our nation is in need of a spiritual awakening,” Gary Wilkerson said, explaining the reasoning behind the conferences. “Our churches are in need of the power of God. Our preachers need a fresh word from heaven.
“In perilous times, we need the church to abandon its powerless pursuit of entertainment, self-help, motivational speeches and once again experience and proclaim the holy, pure, powerful and present Almighty God. No lesser means will do. The crisis of our hour demands more than what the church is currently offering. We need the weightiness of the glory of God to deal with the heaviness of sin in our culture.
“We expect an awakening. We expect the power of God. We expect a move of God. We expect the glory of God. Nothing less will do in such as time as this.”
Only God can change a heart, whether it belongs to a loved one or a nation.
Inclining the Soul Toward Heaven
C. S. Lewis once sagely said, “I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me.”
As we bow our bodies and spirits before our heavenly Father, may we be changed into the kind of people who may love rightly, serve our churches well and revolutionize our communities. That is our prayer for the Expect conferences, everyone who speaks and everyone who attends.
We are longing and expecting to witness God’s goodness and glory.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21, ESV).