Thursday, November 19, 2015

What is prayer?

Norman Grubb was not only the person who built the modern form of WEC International. He was a great man of prayer, and some would say he was a mystic. He writes in his autobiography Once Caught No Escape how he once said to C T Studd, the founder of WEC, his leader and father-in-law that they should pray more. C T Studd agreed, but said that should not get in the way of the work. So the next morning C T was up an hour earlier than the very early hour they normally got up, and Norman Grubb heard C T's banjo playing, but turned over in bed and went back to sleep!

But here is an account of what happened when he heard the news of C T's death in Africa. It comes from After C T Studd, which we have just reissued as an e-book. Norman Grubb was the leader of the work, based in London.

. . . We were to take up the sword C. T. Studd had laid down. . . . one supremely great secret of effective service had become vividly real to us, which lies at the root of most that follows in these pages. It was the answer to that simple but fundamental problem, how can I know God's will? If I know it, then obviously I can believe and act. But first I must know.
How can I put the light we saw in a word? Perhaps best by describing what we did. We made one change in the daily programme at  headquarters, but that change made all the difference. It was customary to start the day's work with a half-hour of Scripture reading and prayer; then followed the real business, letters, interviews, and committees. Now the emphasis was to be changed. The reading and prayer was to be the real business of the day, and the rest fit in as best it might. In other words, our first occupation became, not to exercise our own minds, but to find His mind. What an overwhelming difference that made. Away went worries, plans, defeatist fears. In their place was just this. What does God say about it? What God says is always original, always in the impossible, and great enough to be worthy of Him.
What He said was this. Our petty human thinking was occupied with the littleness, poverty, weakness of our condition. He said, 'Look at Joshua and see what I did for him, and Moses and Abraham and Daniel. Do you think I have given you a great commission – to evangelize the world – and not great resources to do it with? Does not all the Bible tell you that I have come to make people strong out of their weakness, if they will only believe? Now, will you believe?'
The answer was obvious. Just one thing remained. For what specifically should we ask and believe? What was our immediate equivalent of Moses's need of manna, or Joshua's need of a way across Jordan? That was not hard to find. Men and money, of course. For we were a Crusade to evangelize unoccupied areas, and that needs just those two supplies.
So we came to our first transaction of faith, based on guidance, a truly memorable moment in our history, for what we did then we were to repeat in an endless succession of instances for an endless variety of needs. We came somehow to the conclusion, I can't tell exactly how, that for us the impossible which would glorify God and extend His Gospel would be the supply of ten new workers and all the money for them in a year, by the first anniversary of C. T. Studd's death, July 16, 1932.
Having done that, we exactly obeyed the word of Christ, 'When ye pray, believe that ye receive.' We deliberately thanked the Lord for what we had then received. From that day on we never asked again for the ten, but daily reminded Him and ourselves in His presence that they were ours, and thanked Him. Our daily prayer meetings were turned into enjoyment meetings, possessing and enjoying our possessions in the invisible, before we had them in the visible. One other lesson also that was gradually learned, of deep importance in faith, was that the Source is our concern, not the channel: in other words, that we are to keep occupied with what we have already received from Him in the unseen, and not be diverted into looking around for the way in which He may send it in the seen.

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