For much of the first half of 2017 I was very ill. No travel, much pain, very reduced energy and capacity, 12 days in the hospital, etc. The problem was staph infection in the blood and infection in and around T4&5 vertebrae. I am very grateful for every prayer prayed on my behalf!
During this time, the Lord has placed a specific verse on my heart which, I believe, He wanted me to pray for myself and also to rally many others to pray for me. Because the verse was 3 John (chapter 1 – that’s all there is there!) verse 2, I think of those who were praying in this manner as part of the “3J2 Club!”
The NASV translates it this way. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”
When the Lord brought me to mind to pray for me, would asked people to pray something like this; “Father, You have brought prosperity and health to Dennis’ soul, now do the same in his body!”
A few years ago, I wrote an article about the power of short, repeatable prayers. What I experienced during those months was an opportunity to apply that principle.
It was June of 1998. Alvin VanderGriend was sharing for a few minutes at an IRM facilitators gathering at Cannon Beach. I am guessing he shared for about 7 or 8 minutes. It was very simple, and it changed my life. What I took away from those few minutes was the appropriateness of repeated prayer.
Based upon 1 John 5:14-15, if we pray according to His will he will not only hear us but answer us. Alvin shared that he became convinced (among other things) that it was God will that he become a man of prayer. So, he prayed a short, pointed prayer over and over. As he shared that story, I knew this is something God wanted me to do. So, over the next three months or so, I prayed this simple prayer, “Lord, make me a man of prayer” probably about 1,000 times. Many times each day. Sometimes out loud, sometimes in my heart. But each time, I meant it.
In September of that year I remember looking back and knowing that “something is different about my prayer life.” Fourteen months later I was asked to become the director of IRM – am internationally recognized prayer ministry.
Since then, I have seen that Paul evidently prayed in a similar manner – he would often “make mention” of people in his prayers. These were not long prayers. They were brief and to the point. In Nehemiah 2:4-5 – after a lengthy prayer in chapter 1 – Nehemiah “prayed to the God of heaven, and answered the king.” No time for a lengthy prayer here.
And Jesus, in Gethsemane, repeated one of His most intense prayers three times in about an hour (Matthew 26:44).
One other note. Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 6:7 regarding not depending on “many words” is addressing meaningless repetition, not meaningful repetition. In fact, on several occasions, Jesus teaches us to pray repeatedly – Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:8, Luke 18:1&7.
After fifty years (literally) of praying for my mom’s salvation, my prayers had gotten weak and stale. So, my brother, sister and I joined on a conference call every Monday evening to intensify our prayer. After only 100 calls, she did pray and ask Jesus to forgive her of her sins!
Do you know something to be God’s will that is not yet taking place? Pray – simply, directly and repeatedly. He will hear you and answer you.
I have come to think of this as the “Greenhouse effect.” When you hear that phrase, you probably think of something like the following definition taken straight from “freedictionary.com.” “The phenomenon whereby the earth’s atmosphere traps solar radiation, caused by the presence in the atmosphere of gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane that allow incoming sunlight to pass through but absorb heat radiated back from the earth’s surface.”
But I have an added definition to offer you.
Dick Williams is a retired pastor of 40 years, a board member of IRM, and a good friend. I often get together with him and another friend on weekly to pray. When I drove up to his shop/office on a Friday morning several years ago there was a 6’X8’ greenhouse next to it. When I asked him about it, here is what he said.
When they moved to their current house in 2005 he noticed his neighbor had a greenhouse that looked like it hadn’t been used for quite a while. He asked her about it and found out that since her husband died it hadn’t been used, but it wasn’t for sake because her daughter wanted it.
Each day as he walked his drive way he would notice it and pray a simple prayer along the lines of, “Father please change the daughter’s mind and let me buy this greenhouse.” His research determined its value at somewhere just over $2000.00. A few years passed, but he continued to pray. Recently his neighbor contacted him to say, “Our daughter has changed her mind and you may have the greenhouse.” This was more than he prayed for!
So, in addition to what happens in the physical atmosphere, there is a “greenhouse effect” in the spiritual atmosphere as well. As we pray brief, thoughtful, persistent prayers, God often not only answers them but does more than we ask for.
So, as the Lord brings me to mind for prayer, would you use the “greenhouse effect” of praying a short, repeatable prayer from 3 John 1:2? Would you receive my invitation to become part of my “3J2 Club?”
I am grateful for each prayer prayed on my behalf, but I am especially grateful, in this season of my life, for each of you who pray prays based upon 3 John 1:2.