Derek Prince, Mike Bickle, Dick Eastman, Yonggi Cho and Lou Engle all come to mind when I think about the inspirational prayer leaders who influenced my life. There's one more who may not be as well-known, but he's up there in the prayer Parthenon and radioactive to the enemy.
Bob Perry is a former missionary for 12 years in Eastern Europe whose passionate prayers mingled with multitudes to miraculously see the Berlin Wall suddenly come down. He's a 40-year friend, and his "sweet spot" is helping people be effective and consistent in the practice of prayer. God put him on a path taking him to 55 nations studying prayer, and he's been mentored by some of the finest on the planet.
Since Perry came to his place of convergence in ministry decades ago, God has strategically placed him in incredible situations to instruct and inspire Christians in prayer:
— Leading chapel services prior to national college championship games.
— Praying together with believers on Air Force One and being nicknamed "The Praying Priest."
— Overseeing behind-the-scenes prayer for our outreach to 82,000 fans at Bonnaroo music festival.
— Engaging as an American ambassador with over a million intercessors at a national prayer gathering in Africa.
— Or how about his regularly participating with clusters of two or three to gather and agree in prayer in the name of Jesus?
Having just finished our year-end Intercessors for America board meeting, the urgency and explosion of intercessory prayer was still fresh in my mind when I sat down with Perry to glean insights on effective prayer for this article and embedded podcasts. Amidst the chaotic time in which we live and with scores struggling, weary and even demoralized, his passion for prayer is just what our divine physician ordered to encourage us and freshly ignite our faith.
"And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up" (Gal.6:9).
Going From Discipline to Delight
Lean in and listen to Perry as he shares on the podcasts with his infectious enthusiasm. Learn and then receive divine impartation when he concludes with fervent prayer on all our behalf.
Perry is relatable because he lays out his journey from Catholicism, where he knew rote prayers and religious exercises but lacked a dynamic relationship with Jesus. He was genuinely born again when someone was faithful to reach out to him and share the gospel. It didn't take long for him to develop a God-given burden for prayer when he noticed how lacking it was in the church.
Initially prayer was drudgery, but in time, this man of God saw his commitment to be disciplined in prayer develop into delight. He's convinced that humility and hunger are the "currency of heaven" and foundational to a consistent prayer life.
"I humbled myself and simply asked God to help me develop a genuine hunger for communion with Him in prayer. Jesus told us His 'yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light' (Matt. 11:30), so in childlike faith, I simply took Him at His word and yielded to Him."
Don't Doubt God
This minister of prayer has an abundance of personal stories to build our faith in line with the Word of God. He states: "The greatest tragedy about unanswered prayers are that they're never asked! Be bold. Be persistent like the widow with the unjust judge. Be in the Word to know His will and be sensitive to His Spirit, trusting He will in His perfect timing and way do 'exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine'" (Eph. 3:20b).
"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much" (James 5:16b. Whether the need is for spiritual, emotional or mental healing; financial breakthrough; guidance in a major decision; God's plan for one's mate or the supernatural restoration of a prodigal son or daughter, God is more than able and always faithful.
The Perrys saw God undertake for their wayward daughter when she drifted off course in her late teens. They persevered in prayer and witnessed her hit rock bottom until, on her 25th birthday, she landed in a rural jail where a jail mate had written Scriptures on the wall and told her, "I've been here for a year waiting to share the gospel with you!" The prodigal came home.
7 Practical Suggestions
Growing in the practice of prayer is a process. Some additional suggestions that Perry and I share from our journey are the following:
1. Discover and maintain right priorities based upon sacred Scripture.
2. Remind yourself of the benefits of prayer and the consequences of its neglect.
A consistent prayer life enables us to experience God's presence; delights the heart of our heavenly Father; affords opportunity to receive daily guidance; gives us a chance to daily "cast cares upon Him", enjoy spiritual cleansing from worldly contamination and develop greater discernment to avoid deception.
3. Learn to pray the Scriptures echoing prayers given by Jesus, Paul, Peter and the writers of the Psalms.
4. Maintain a right perspective of being motivated by grace and not by legalism.
We pray not as a "have to" but a "get to," knowing our relationship with God is not based upon our sins, shortcomings or service, but His unchanging covenantal love set upon us.
5. Find a quiet spot without distractions even as Jesus "went out and departed to a solitary place. And there He prayed" (Mark 1:35b).
6. Schedule permitting, be intentional in retiring and rising early enough for a quality time of prayer.
"In the morning, rising up a great while before sunrise, He went out ... there He prayed" (Mark 1:35).
7. Endeavor to establish order for your prayer life to avoid wandering thoughts.
Take time to reflect and ask God to search your heart to keep a clear conscience. "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving" (Ps. 100:4a). Meditate upon Scriptures to build faith and focus on the spiritual realm. Consider having some background worship music. Have a flexible order of prayer where you intercede for governing authorities, family, the lost, special needs and more.
Here's the deal: The disciples never asked Jesus to teach them how to preach, but they did ask Him "teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1b). They observed His life and knew His power came from His personal bond with Father God. Outstanding servants of God like Bob Perry inspire us to grow in prayer, and there's never been a time when it's more important than right now.
Note: If you're interested in discovering resources to help you in prayer and to see what Perry's current assignment is, check out how he and his prayer team are making an impact on the marketplace at workplaceprayer.com.
Larry Tomczak author of 10 books, is a cultural commentator of 50 yrs, Intercessors for America board member, best-selling author and a public policy adviser with Liberty Counsel. His new, innovative video/book, BULLSEYE, develops informed influencers in 30 days (see www.bullseyechallenge.com). and he has a variety of resources on his website (see www.larrytomczak.com). You can also hear his weekly podcast here.
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