The apostle Paul opens his second epistle to the Corinthians in profuse celebration of “the God of all comfort” who has “in answer to the prayers of many” delivered him from what he had thought to be “the sentence of death.”
The details of Paul’s sufferings in the province of Asia remain obscure, but they were severe enough to crush his spirit so that he was forced to abandon all hope of survival. “Indeed,” he said, “in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.” He said he was “under great pressure far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.”
The Apostle rarely used the term “despair” (exaporethenai), which implies all hope of surviving oppressive circumstances. Paul saw no way out, no reprieve from his death sentence. Only divine intervention delivered him from the jaws of death and brought him back to the reality of life. “The Father of compassion” miraculously rescued him. And the apostle believed with all of his heart that God had done so in answer to the prayers of many!
As I look back on the year 2005, I would not even dare to compare the magnitude of my trials in ministry to those of the Apostle Paul’s. I will just state that in all of my fifty-six years of full-time ministry, I have never known so many and such various outright Satanic attacks. The spiritual opposition against me and this ministry in 2005 has surpassed anything I have known in the last twenty-three years of devotedly calling God’s people to prayer, of clarifying the Spirit-filled life of holiness and power and of spelling out the biblical terms of true moral and spiritual awakening. The entire year has been a wake-up call to the fact that the enemy dreads prayer, hates the Spirit-filled life and opposes revival in any life, in any congregation, in any community or nation.
The Prayers of Many
But please let me hasten to say that the year of 2005 has been a victorious year despite the attempts of the enemy. For the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of many of you, has helped me to overcome in the following ways: to find the physical and emotional strength to go on despite the increasing weaknesses, pains and infirmities of aging; to leave home and entrust my suffering wife Maxine to the care of the Lord and others (our son Tim and my executive secretary Rachel have been faithful when Maxine has needed someone with her); to face congregations that seemed frozen in unbelief of any possibility that God could send revival to their church, and then go ahead and proclaim the Word only to see Him work gloriously; to struggle through hours of spiritual warfare battling demons of doubt and discouragement, then experience the sweet breakthrough of the Spirit’s anointing for absolute joyous freedom in worship, praise and intercession; to endure days and nights of loneliness and the need for someone to pray and share with, then to turn to the Lord and find that He is all that I need; to graciously accept criticism (sometimes harsh) and take it to the Lord, only to find that the Lord agreed with my critics (except for the harshness), but finding the grace to repent and make the changes in attitude and ways of ministering that are pleasing to God; to learn of meetings being cancelled too late to fill the dates with other invitations, then turn it over to the Lord as being providential; to come to the realization that invitations are now fewer, financial contributions are falling off and I’m getting older, then find comfort in the Word of God to the effect that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Although I conducted only eleven events (6 Schools of Prayer, 6 Revivals and 1 camp meeting), I can say to the glory of God that His Divine Presence was manifested on every event. Sinners were saved! Believers were sanctified! Hungry Christians were filled with the Spirit! Bodies were healed! Demons were cast out! Congregations were revived! And many new prayer warriors were trained, and they are now waging war against the Kingdom of darkness. It’s been a good year. We have worked hard to keep all of our obligations, but all commitments have been met. Our income this year has dropped to a record low, but all bills are paid. All because God has worked through your many prayers! Oh, how I thank you!
Please know that the trials of 2005 have not daunted or discouraged me one bit! I have never faced a new year with more faith or a clearer vision or a greater determination to see the glory of God in our ministry than I sense now as I face the year of 2006. Several meetings are already booked, and I expect to conduct more events this year than we did last. But whether more or less, I am resolved throughout the year to pray in the Spirit, live in holiness and power, proclaim the truth as the Spirit leads and believe God for the outpoured Spirit on every event. As we are faithful to these priorities, we can trust the Lord to help us keep the office open and pay a part-time executive assistant, publish the CHRISTIAN RENEWAL JOURNAL, encourage and give guidance to the BIG SKY HOUSE OF PRAYER operating in the Bozeman, Montana area, and keep on calling God’s people to prayer and to holy living and to revival.
I will share with our prayer partners the list of priorities that head my list as we come to the year of 2006:
- More passionate prayer partners. The apostle Paul believed in the power of cooperative prayer. Back in 1986, when the Lord began using me to go to different congregations in various places and share my vision of revival praying, He spoke to me and said, “If my servant the apostle Paul felt he could not be true to the heavenly vision without the prayers of the saints, who are you to think you can fulfill my calling to teach prayer and spell out my conditions for revival without the prayers of my people?” I took that caution seriously, and the one thing I am most grateful for aside from my own salvation and the divine anointing for prayer and ministry is the Spirit’s gift of an unknown number of prayer partners. And truly, these precious, valuable, indispensable people are a gift from God. In my own strength and persuasive abilities, I could never have gathered them. Time and time again, precious ones have come to tell me, “God has asked me (or us) to take on CHRISTIAN RENEWAL MINISTRIES as a major concern, to pray daily, and sometimes through the night, for His anointing on you and His blessings on everything your ministry undertakes.” Sometimes, such reports come via emails and telephone calls. Letters are written sharing with us the burdens people are carrying for the success of this work. Some of these people we have not met or cannot remember having seen. But, oh, how we thank God for such people! I am now pleading with you to pray with me for an added number of passionate prayer partners this year. I am convinced it is the foremost secret in anointed ministry of spreading the Gospel and calling the nations to prayer and preparation for Last-Days Revival.
- Health and Safety. I must not take for granted the health and energy God gives me for prayer, travel, writing, preaching, teaching and counseling. Pray that God will continue to help me to be disciplined in eating and exercising so that I can continue to be “a vessel of honor, a temple of the Holy Spirit set apart for His service and glory.” Please remember my wife Maxine also, who has at times throughout 2005 been in great pain, even as she is at this time.
- My colleagues in ministry. I am very grateful to Rachel Kuhn for her efficient service in the office. She has not been in the best of health this year and we hope she will be able to give more time in 2006. We must cover her in prayer for God’ s touch on her body and on her life. Also, pray for our CHRISTIAN RENEWAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS (Dave & Marilyn Bos, Paula Butterfield, Greg & Rena Donaldson, Gail & Betty Fremont, Duncan & Susan Hill, and Kyle & Vanessa McMurray). Please pray for Vanessa as she gives direction to the BIG SKY HOUSE OF PRAYER in Belgrade, just a few miles west of Bozeman.
- Open doors. I truly want to be available to the Lord for wherever He wants me, but trying to keep a full slate is not my great concern. I have learned from a limited schedule this past year that not being so busy can be a great blessing. I can be more attentive to Maxine, spend more quality time with the Lord, do more reading and serious thinking when I’m not traveling and preaching and teaching so much. Pray that churches will call me where they are willing to sacrificially and passionately fast and pray and believe God for revival. Otherwise, I feel I am wasting my time and just spinning my wheels.
- Financial needs of the ministries. I can go before the Lord and look every donor in the face and know that God is being glorified in CHRISTIAN RENEWAL MINISTRIES. I know in my heart that I and others who invest financially in this work will be generously rewarded in due time. I know that we are laying up treasures for the life to come. So without embarrassment or apology, I ask you to consider prayerfully the amounts the Lord would have you invest in getting the message of prayer and revival out to this nation and others throughout the year of 2006. Please give careful attention to the enclosed commitment card. I will get a lot of encouragement from these cards whether you make a one-time contribution or choose to give monthly or quarterly. These cards will be reminders that I am not alone in this ministry, that there is power in cooperative praying and giving. Please include your prayer requests on the back of your cards and they will go into my own personal prayer journal.
Thank you for joining me in prayer and in giving and in trusting God for an anointed New Year! I trust you will have a Merry Christmas! May you and your family be greatly blessed through this holiday season and beyond!