Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Several years ago, when the LORD was encouraging and training myself and my church in prayer, He spoke to me in my prayer time before Services on Sunday morning. In that prayer time He directed me to ask our membership, during the invitation, to list the names of the friends and family members whom they knew to be lost on a tablet of paper I had placed on the LORD’s Table.
My instructions to the church were to print first and last names legibly. It wasn’t long before the people had flooded the Table area waiting their turn to add names to the list. The purpose for the list was to pray for the salvation of all who were listed. I gave some basic suggestions as to how to pray, and I shared that I would copy the list so each person praying could have one to take home with them. I also shared that I was to then cut all the names from the list into small slips of paper, each containing one name only. These slips would be placed in a decorative container that I dubbed “The Prayer Pot”. This pot would remain in the sanctuary on the LORD’s Table at all times. I encouraged the people to feel free, as the LORD might lead them, to come to the table, take a few names from the pot, slip to the altar and pray for their salvation. They were free to do this at any point in our worship service, even if I were preaching.
After that service, I checked the list and discovered, to my surprise and pleasure, over 350 names listed. I made my copies then placed the individual slips with names into the “Prayer Pot”. On Monday morning I went into the sanctuary alone to pray through the names. My intention was to name each person before the LORD, pleading for their souls. Each name was important to me even though I did not know most of them. I did not rush through the names, and the first time I prayed through the slips I spent nearly five hours.
At some point, I came upon one slip of paper that simply said: “The Smith family”. I found myself becoming agitated because I had clearly instructed our congregation to print first and last names. I said to the LORD, “Do You know how many Smiths there are?” To that brilliant question I heard my LORD say, “Yes, Jerry. I know each one of them. I died for all of the Smiths! You just pray for all the Smiths to be saved!”
This was a very humbling moment in time for me. I began to pray for Smiths as though I knew them all intimately.
Unusual things began to happen in our church. First of all, for the next several weeks, during each invitation I gave at the end of our Sunday Morning Services, people were coming to Jesus for salvation. Not only that, but there were always two to three people named Smith. To make it even better, these Smiths were not related to one another.
Secondly, I began to receive reports of people from this list being saved from all over. Many of whom lived far away. One deacon shared with me about how his niece, who lived in New Mexico, woke up one Sunday morning under the conviction she needed to go to church. She did not know where to go as she had never in her life been in a church for any reason. She walked down the street and found herself in a small Baptist church. After hearing the message and the invitation of the pastor, she gave her heart to Jesus. Her name had been on our list.
I began to have strangers drop in to my office unannounced with some kind of personal crisis to share, and each one found salvation and peace from our LORD before they had left. Each one had been on our prayer list. Before the LORD had called me away from that church, I was aware of 57 persons from that list who had been saved.
On day in Sacramento, California, while conducting a seminar on prayer, I had shared this story of the “Prayer Pot” as a way to encourage praying people into the Kingdom. After the seminar, a young woman approached me with a question. “During what time period were you praying for Smiths”, she asked? I gave this some thought and gave her my best answer as to when it began, and asked her, why?
She explained that she had been saved during that time, and that she had been living in Chicago. She concluded by saying her maiden name was Smith.
I continue to pray for the salvations of persons named Smith, and God continues to bring Smiths into my life and knowledge. I have many friends named Smith, and some of my church members in my present church are named Smith. My precious daughter-in-law was a Smith, and that is another awesome testimony of the LORD's working in our lives.
The purpose of my sharing this was to encourage you, and your churches, to begin praying earnestly for known lost persons by name. Ok, you do not need a "Prayer Pot", but you do need a list of persons needing salvation!