"In prayer, we rise up and take hold of God's hand, so to speak, as Jacob did when he exclaimed in agony, " I will not let You go unless You bless Me!' Was God angry at his boldness? Not at all. He gave him exactly what he asked for...Power from on high is the supreme need of today." Charles G. Finney
"God does nothing but in answer to prayer; and even they who have been converted to God without praying for it themselves...were not without the prayers of others." John Wesley
"Much of what we have been praying and begging God for, He has already given us, and it has only been awaiting our action." T.L. Osborn
"The prayers of God's saints are the capitol stock in heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon the earth...the very life and prosperity of God's cause, even its very existence, depend on prayer. And the advance and triumph of His cause depend on one thing: that we "ask of him.'" E.M. Bounds
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost..." Jude - (the Lord's brother)
"No man is greater than his prayer life." Leonard Ravenhill
It was said of John Wesley, "He thought prayer to be more his business than anything else, and I have seen him come out of his prayer closet with a serenity of face next to shining." Wesley was an intercessor. It was said that Charles Spurgeon glided from laughter to prayer with the naturalness of one who lived in both elements. With him the habit of prayer was free and unfettered. Prayer sprang as spontaneously to his lips as ordinary speech did. Spurgeon was an intercessor. James Gilmour, the pioneer missionary to Mongolia, was a man of prayer. He had a habit in his writing of never using a blotter. He made a rule that when he got to the bottom of any page he would wait until the ink dried and spend the time in prayer. Gilmour was an intercessor. It was said of Gerhard Tersteegen that when he prayed it was as if he had gone straight into heaven, and lost himself in God, and usually when he was done praying he was as white as the wall. Tersteegen was an intercessor. It was said of "Praying (Edward) Payson" that prayer was pre-eminently the business of his life. Payson was an intercessor. It is said that George Whitefield spent whole days and WEEKS prostrate on the ground in silent and vocal prayer. Whitefield was an intercessor. Those who watched the Quakers pray said that on their faces they could see sitting, "the Holy Dove visibly brooding." The Quakers were intercessors. Martin Luther was once asked what his plans for the following day were, he answered, "Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." Luther was an intercessor. Two sisters Peggy and Christine Smith, in their eighties, one blind and the other bent double with arthritis wrestled in their cabin for days in prayer. They prayed for revival not "letting God go until he blessed" the Hebrides Islands where they lived. He did. The Smith sisters were intercessors. Great men and women of God, making "War on the Floor" strong in faith and prayer, they:
"...subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." (Hebrews 11:33,34)
Sarah A. Cooke was an intercessor. No! Sarah A. Cooke was a fervent intercessor. Frail and small she was known by many as "Auntie Cooke" and though her ministry is relatively unknown she influenced such world known evangelists as D. L. Moody, John Wesley Redfield, Samuel Brengle, G. Campbell Morgan, B. T. Roberts and S. B. Shaw. All these ministries were touched not by her physical hand but by her prevailing prayer life. Through this ministry of intercession bold words of council, for these men, emerged out of her intimacy with God. Even though Sarah is little known today her prayers made a difference, just like our prayers will make a difference, by changing the lives of thousands.
In her autobiography Sarah considered every moment spent in real prayer as a moment spent in the refreshing fire of the Holy Spirit. She was intent on reviving God's work on the earth by strengthening those entrusted with preaching His Word through her intense intercession. A person's soul was the ultimate importance to her. Samuel Brengle said of Sarah, "She let no opportunity pass by to speak to both saint or sinner of Christ's great salvation." Dr. Morgan Campbell tells a story of how one day he stepped onto a streetcar and saw a man sitting alone in one of the seats. The Holy Spirit quickly quickened him to speak to the man about his soul. Campbell said he then hesitated to gather his courage. When he finally turned to take the seat he found it was already occupied by a little woman, who was now earnestly speaking to the man about his salvation. Sarah Cooke was the little woman.
Sarah knew the Church needed revival. It was imperative that someone needed to support God's reviving work with the weapon of prayer. Sarah rose to the call. Praying day after day for an intervention of the glorious presence of God to manifest Himself in the Chicago area, her prayers were answered just outside the city limits. Sarah Cooke's own words tell us what happened:
"It was at Ross that the work broke out in great power. There seemed to be an outburst of the cloud of mercy. For miles and miles around ‘mercy drops' fell on the people. Conviction seized men fifteen miles away, who had not been near the meeting. We passed a place one day where the men had stopped their threshing-machine and were having a prayer-meeting. A little farther on, more reapers had stopped their work, and were down on their knees in prayer...There were frequent seasons of earnest and prevailing prayer, lively singing, followed by short burning messages and testimonies. We had no formal, dry services. The blessed Holy Spirit breathed life and power on us in every service. Sudden outbursts of cries for mercy and shouts of praise were heard in most of the meetings."
Revivals were birthed, marriages were saved, sick were healed and many a soul saved by Sarah's constant appearance before the Throne of God in intercessory prayer. Sarah never wavered from the calling of "lifting up those who are called to minister to God's people." There is an interesting story from her autobiography and even told by the evangelist himself of an encounter between Sarah and D. L. Moody. Sarah writes that while he preached they prayed:
"Mr. Moody was an earnest, whole-souled worker, but to me there seemed such a lack in his words. It seemed more the human, the natural energy and force of character of the man, than anything spiritual. I felt he lacked what the apostles received on the day of Pentecost. Dear sister Hawxhurst and myself would, after the evening meetings, talk with him about it. At first he seemed surprised, then convicted."
Sarah never hesitated in telling this well-known evangelist that he needed the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. In Michael Brown's book, "Whatever Happened to the Power of God", he tells us:
"Sarah and her friend Mrs. Hawxhurst, who was a widow, seated themselves in the front row of Moody's church...After the service they would say to him, ‘We have been praying for you'. Unnerved, Moody responded, ‘Why don't you pray for the people?' The ladies replied, ‘Because you need the power of the Spirit.' Unexpectedly, a great hunger began to form in Moody's soul. He said later, ‘I did not know what it was, and I began to cry out as I never did before. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service.'"
Sarah continues to tell us what happened next:
"Then (Mr. Moody) asked us to meet him on Friday afternoon for prayer. At every meeting he would get more in earnest, in an agony of desire for the fullness of the Spirit."
Soon after these prayer meetings Moody was baptized with the Spirit. An explosion erupted in his ministry. Preaching the same sermons, where before he had ten converted, now he had hundreds. Moody's preaching then took on a new power. He started to receive invitations to preach from around the country, including an evangelistic trip to England that was very successful in reaching thousands.
Samuel Brengle went on to say that Sarah was one of the most jubilant women he had ever met. Jesus was the passion and joy of her soul and many times she would break down in tears by the prayerlessness among Christians:
"I was in a meeting in Illinois where more than twenty preachers were present, every day a prayer meeting was held at six o'clock. Three mornings the hour came, but not one of the twenty preachers were there. My soul was stirred within me. If alive to God, would they not have been there to take hold of the blessing of God for the people who would gather there through the day? Awake beloved preacher of the Gospel!"
Sarah believed down to the bottom of her soul that prayerlessness was a sin. "...far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you..." (1 Samuel 12:23). Praying was her life, praying was her ministry, praying was her all. Sarah A. Cooke was an intercessor.
Chris Armstrong writes:
"We call them the "great intercessors" these men and women from history who have become renowned for their power in prayer. At first glance, these people are intimidating. Didn't many of them pray for three or four hours every day? Weren't great revivals born out of their prayers? These people seem to have operated on a different plane from those of us whose commitments to work and family seem to leave us little time for such great exploits of prayer. But take another look...Most of these intercessors were ordinary people but they experienced an extraordinary connection with our Lord...and reading about them makes us aware that our prayers, too, will make a difference."
Sarah and all the other intercessors from history were fallible human beings, limited in their struggles to break through to God. But they persevered and found, through prayer, the intimacy that the apostle John found when he laid his head upon the breast of Jesus during their last meal together.
Prayer is the most powerful device a Christian has in his arsenal of God-given weapons. It is not only a transaction in which we constantly ask to "get" but a form of adoration where we not only talk to but talk with our Lord, the "Great I AM". Think of it...the Creator of the Universe...a whisper away. Can you not feel the yearning in your heart when you read the words of Edward Payson, "I was favored with great enlargement in prayer. I seemed to be carried out of myself into the presence of God." Can you not feel the homesickness of your Spirit as David Brainerd writes, "Toward night I enjoyed much sweetness in secret prayer, so that my soul longed for an arrival in the heavenly country, the blessed paradise of our God." Can you not feel the confidence of success in answered prayer when John Wesley says:, "Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down." Well did E. M. Bounds say, "True prayer MUST be aflame!"
James 5:17,18..."Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again He prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." (NIV)
JJ (Dark) Di Pietro
Cane Creek Church