One of the signs that God is going to do a great work is that he begins to stir up his people to pray for it. He lays a burden on a person here and a person there. He brings it back to their mind again and again. It stalks them. It drives them to their knees. Or it catches them on their knees.
When God aims to do a great work, the first thing he harnesses is the power of prayer. He starts by planting the spark of desire in a few hearts. Then through prayer he fans it into a flame. Then the flame of desire and faith spreads to others. Soon large numbers are on their knees imploring the great work. Then God acts. Then he pours down his blessing. God loves to do great works of redemption. But even more he loves to do it in answer to prayer.
Please come to worship next Sunday and hear about the spark of desire God has planted in my heart. Even as I write this my eyes grow moist with longing. I want so much to be consumed with Christ. I want so much to eat and drink and sleep and preach Christ. I want to love him so much in 1982 that I carry the aroma of his life everywhere. “For me to live is Christ!” (Philippians 1:21). But very specifically that must mean: “For me to live is Christ’s mission.” “As the Father has sent me,” Jesus said, “so send I you” (John 20:21).
In 1982 my life must be Christ, and that means, “Christ for others.” If I am not Christ for others, I am not Christ at all. If I can really say, “It is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20), then I must live for others. There is only one kind of Christ who lives, and that is the Christ for others. If he is alive in me, he will be alive for others. I am hungry. I am thirsty to let this Christ go from our midst. Christ the Tiger. Christ, the all-night pray-er. Christ the seeking Shepherd. Christ the toucher of lepers. Christ the unanswerable witness.
Do any of you feel with me the same spark in your heart? Do you now and then feel as though revival and harvest time could be approaching? Does your heart beat a little faster as mine does even as I write these lines? Have you recently felt that God might be gearing up to do a revolutionary work in your life so that all the old hindrances to fruitful witness would be swept away? Do you feel a longing to be in prayer for your own soul and for someone else?
Do you now and then think that one of these years the Holy Spirit is going to fall — I mean really fall — on Bethlehem Baptist Church? Does anyone think it may be 1982? Will you join me in a week of intensive prayer starting next Sunday? If we could only begin to ask with fervor! Please come Sunday and hear my burden.