Jim Cymbala is the pastor at Brooklyn Tabernacle in Manhattan, and I love his heart for prayer. Here’s a story from his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire that tells how God initially spoke to him. In the context, he has come down with a protracted cough and is in Florida visiting his inlaws and trying to recuperate. He goes out on a party fishing boat with 20 or 30 tourists, and begins to muse…
…Carol and I had frankly admitted to each other that unless God broke through, the Brooklyn Tablernacle was doomed. We couldn’t finesse it along. We couldn’t organize and market and program our way out. The embarrassing truth was that sometimes even I didn’t want to show up for a service – that’s how bad it was.
We had to have a visitation of the Holy Spirit, or bust.
“Lord, I have no idea how to be a sucessful pastor,” I prayed softly out there on the water. “I haven’t been trained. All I know is that Carol and I are working in the middle of New York City, with people dying on every side, overdosing from heroin, consumed by materialism, and all the rest. If the gospel is so powerful…”
I couldn’t finish the sentence. Tears choked me. Fortunately, the others on the boat were too far away to notice as they studied their lines in the blue-green water.
Then quietly but forcefully, in words heard not with my ear but deep within my spirit, I sensed God speaking:
“If you and your wife will lead my people to pray and call upon my name, you will never lack for something fresh to preach. I will supply all the money that’s needed, both for the church and for your family, and you will never have a building large enough to contain the crowds I will send in response.”
The rest in history, and Cymbala spends the rest of the book telling the glorious story of how God fulfilled His promise.
By the way, Jim Cymbala also gave one of the most powerful messages I have ever heard on prayer. It was so good that about ten years ago, we showed the entire message in church one Sunday morning. It’s about 50 minutes, but worth it if you can set aside the time…
February 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm
Roger, I have read this book more than once and have also watched the video about 4 times. We watched it with our life group as well. It was a life changing book for me(next to the Bible of course:)) Thanks for your sermons on prayer. Suzette
February 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm
Thanks Sue. Yeah, the video is powerful, huh? I love to talk about prayer.
February 8, 2012 at 9:36 am
My mom was a prayer warrior and I “caught” the importace of prayer by her example. I can’t imagine life w/o that power and peace. What a privelege to carry everything to him our deliverer!
Thanks Roger for your vulnerability in sharing your own personal struggles and victories. We all need to testify to God’s faithfulness so we can be strengthened in our faith and bring glory to God!
February 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm
Thanks Connie – what a blessing to have godly parents. And thanks for the thoughts about vulnerability. I have wondered if I am being to “Roger-centered” in some of these posts on prayer, but I guess I know my own experience and write from that.