Around two years ago, the lead pastor of the largest church in Juarez, Mexico, was quietly praying when he was prompted by God to immediately resign his position, set up a small tent in a downtown park, and then pray and fast for 21 days.
Juarez, just over the border from El Paso, TX, made international news due to its high murder rate and very significant drug cartel influence. Stories of dozens of daily murders became commonplace in the news. Residents became fearful, and many moved away; if they were able to afford to move.
The pastor immediately obeyed God's command; resigning his position, setting up a tent in the park God instructed him to go to, and then fasted and prayed.
Around the fourth day of praying, the pastor was visited by a local news reporter. The reporter, shocked to see the pastor there (the park was filled with many dangerous drug dealers and illegal activities), asked him, "What are you doing here?" The pastor then shared all that God had told him to do.
In the days that followed, the reporter returned to check on a pastor's safety and ask for updates. Following each visit, the reporter filed a report in the local paper.
At the end of the 21 days, the pastor felt prompted by God to visit the city's mayor. At the same time, the mayor had been reading the reporter's updates about the praying pastor. The mayor invited the pastor and reporter to personally meet with him.
During the meeting, the pastor felt prompted to ask the mayor, "What's the biggest problem facing this city?"
The mayor answered, "Our prison. It's the center of all the drug activity in our city. People find ways to get arrested and imprisoned there, just so they can profit from the drug running and money laundering happening in that place. Also, over 60% of the prison guards are actively involved in the cartels as well. We, as the government, feel powerless to do anything to change that situation, or to help our community's safety."
The men then prayed together.
Soon, God gave the men a plan. They jotted it down, then set about implementing it God's way.
The next day, Mexico's military came to the prison, surrounded it, and shut all of its activities down cold turkey. Next, hundreds of doctors and nurses, specializing in drug rehab, were brought into the prison to work with the 1,000+ men; helping them come off of their drug highs and move toward sobriety. Next, pastors and church leaders were also brought in to pray, share the gospel with each prisoner and prison guard, and counsel each person inside the walls.
Over the next couple of months, over 60% of the people within the walls of the prison placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Many discovered healing from addictions, and others found a passion to share the gospel instead of deal drugs.
Over the next year, the crime rate in Juarez dropped by over 90%!
This is one of many things God is doing in our world, and it's one that serves to embolden and strengthen the prayer lives of Christians everywhere! Did you notice how the story started? It started by one man humbling himself, praying to God, and listening for His voice/prompting.
Let's look at what God told Solomon in the Old Testament:
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there." - 2 Chronicles 7:13-16
Humble ourselves and pray. It's pretty simple, yet also easy to miss in the busyness of our lives.
At that time, people prayed in temples. Today, we are temples of the Holy Spirit; God's Spirit living and dwelling within each follower of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20
God is working all around us, but He's also waiting for His children to seek Him in prayer for the people, places, and world around us (in addition to our own lives, thoughts, and motives). We don't have to wait for tragedy, death, or destruction to hit our communities or neighborhoods before we begin to pray. We can do so right now; and watch what God does as we seek His face!
"It's an exciting thing to be in on what God is doing; to bring about tremendous change that can only happen from the Lord!" - Dave Butts
"I can just imagine Satan gathering all the demons in hell and discussing what they can do to destroy Christians. And Satan says, 'Keep them from praying. Because no matter what else they do, if they don't pray, we can beat them every time. But if they learn how to pray, they'll beat us every time. Keep them from praying.'" -Dr. Sidlow Baxter