Jerry N. Page
President of Central California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
In attending a ministers’ meeting in Colorado, Bob and I were sharing a room that had two double beds. In the middle of the night I dreamed that my wife Janet was in the other bed. Still sleeping, I got up, walked to the other bed, and stood looking down at Bob.
Sensing my presence, he awoke, and at the same moment, so did I. With his sense of humor in full swing, he said with a smirk, “Jerry, I won’t tell a soul.”
To which I shot back with a laugh, “I’m going to tell all the pastors tomorrow at breakfast about my sleepwalking episode, so you don’t distort it!”
Looking back over life, I realize that I have often thought I was awake when really I was sound asleep! Janet and I also have discovered that when we start “spiritual sleepwalking,” our Lord provides spiritual awakenings for us along the journey. With Jesus’ return so near, we believe that one of the greatest awakenings our Lord has brought into our lives is also one of the most important needs of His last-day remnant movement.
It is true that the Lord is doing amazing things around the globe as God’s people cooperate with Him. My wife and I believe that the haunting reality is that, as we search our own hearts and talk with other leaders and members of this movement, we are only scratching the surface of what our God longs to do. How can we unleash His vision and power to turn our portion of the world—North America—upside down as in the days of Acts? For what is God waiting before He will pour out the great revival that ushers in His coming?
A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. . . . it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer1 (emphasis supplied).
Through prayer, the baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit will lead to unleashing His power in these last days. As we study the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy, we find that not only is more personal and private prayer needed, but united prayer is so much more needed. The focus of this article is on that specific need in the current remnant movement.
Call to United Prayer
Jesus promised, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20, NKJV).
About this passage, Ellen White commented, “The promise is made on condition that the united prayers of the church are offered, and in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes from private prayer. The power given will be proportionate to the unity of the members and their love for God and for one another.”2
The role of individual prayer is essential for every believer. Following the model of Jesus, we need to spend much more time with our Father if we would see the same results as Jesus and other greats of Scripture.
Throughout the book of Acts and the New Testament, we read about the united prayer of the early church believers, and then we see amazing movings of God. Gathered in an upper room, the unity of 120 souls led to Pentecost (Acts 1:13-2:1). When Peter and John were threatened, the believers cried out together for boldness, and the place where they were was shaken. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke His word with boldness (Acts 4:24-37). After Herod killed James and was about to execute Peter, the believers gathered and prayed. An angel came, Peter’s chains fell off, jail doors swung open, and he went to the praying church in victory (Acts 12:3-19). These few examples exhibit their constant habit of seeking the Lord together in prayer to understand and seek His heart, will, and power to help. (See also Acts1:24; 2:42-47; 6:6; 13:1-3; 14:23; 16:13, 25; 20:36; 21:5.)
Janet and I believe one need our Lord has is for us to make a commitment to spend time together and call on His name. Let us share a few examples from our own experience.
From $100,000 to $3,300,000
It is in the order of God that those who bear responsibilities should often meet together to counsel with one another and pray earnestly for that wisdom which He alone can impart. Unitedly make known your troubles to God. Talk less: much precious time is lost in talk that brings no light. Let brethren unite in fasting and prayer for the wisdom that God has promised to supply liberally3 (emphasis supplied).
One of the amazing “waymarks” in our spiritual journey has been the miraculous growth of the annual camp meeting evangelism offering in the Central California Conference. This offering has grown from under $100,000 in 1996, to more than $3.3 million in the past two years.
People all over the world ask us, “What are you doing to raise that amount of money for evangelism in ten days?” We say, “It is a miracle of God because so many members pray together.”
Often, the reply is, “No, really, what are you doing? Of course you pray, but what are the practical methods you are using to accomplish this?”
Yes, we work hard all year managing, reporting, planning. But the real story is God’s leading through His people who come together and pray, seeking His heart, His vision.
When Janet and I arrived at the Central California Conference in 1995, the Soquel campground was for sale and camp meeting was ending permanently. Since we and many other members were concerned about losing this life-changing ministry, and because we both love camp meeting, the decision was made to hold one more camp meeting.
We wanted camp meeting to be a deeply spiritual event bathed in prayer for the Lord’s presence and power. We called for members around the conference to pray and ask God to show us His will for the future. At camp meeting in 1996, Janet led a volunteer prayer team to pray with campers as they arrived and throughout the ten-day event. Amazing answers to united prayer happened. Camp meeting was so Spirit-filled that a commitment to return to the annual ten-day event was voted and a year-round prayer ministry began in earnest.
Conference Office Prayer Meetings
Our Savior follows His lessons of instruction with a promise that if two or three should be united in asking anything of God it should be given them. Christ here shows that there must be union with others, even in our desires for a given object. Great importance is attached to the united prayer, the union of purpose. God hears the prayers of individuals, but on this occasion Jesus was giving special and important lessons that were to have a special bearing upon His newly organized church on the earth. There must be an agreement in the things which they desire and for which they pray. It was not merely the thoughts and exercises of one mind, liable to deception; but the petition was to be the earnest desire of several minds centered on the same point4 (emphasis supplied).
Janet invited volunteers to join her to pray at the conference office for three hours each week. We prayed for the needs of the conference in such areas as mission, personnel, finances, and local church needs. Requests were written and dated, as were the answers. This small, dedicated group began to experience God’s power and to see specific answers. They began to learn so much about the Lord. Longing for all the members to realize the power of praying unitedly, they began to ask God to give them a “token” that would show what He could do when His people pray together. One by one, several prayer partners were impressed to pray for the evangelism offering.
When the prayer team met at camp meeting in 1997, they again asked God to give His people a token of what He wanted to do through united prayer. Surprised, but in one accord, they began to pray for the evangelism offering, agreeing that God somehow wanted to use this offering as a token of the power of united prayer. The campers were also asked to pray for the offering, asking God what He wanted each one to do. Hundreds, then thousands, joined in united prayer.
The evangelism goal that year was $100,000—the total was $138,000! Thus, the year-to-year, faith-and-trust journey began. The prayer team would ask God what He wanted for the evangelism offering. Agreeing together confirmed the offering God had in mind. The annual offering began to increase dramatically as each year passed. The prayer team led the way because together they listened to what God was planning to do. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 147.) As these experiences were shared, many, many members began to ask God how He wanted them involved—and the offering increased even more substantially.
The prayer partners prayed for more than $500,000, and it happened! Next they prayed for $1,000,000, and after a couple of years, that happened as well! The Lord has so significantly blessed that the offering of the past two years has exceeded $3.3 million!
As a result of increased evangelism funding, our outreach ministries have expanded enormously. We’ve seen the following growth:
- increases in public meetings and baptisms,
- 60 lay-training Bible workers,
- student and adult literature evangelism exploding,
- two full-time youth-evangelism teams,
- secular-campus and young-adult ministries,
- children’s outreach programming, and
- a myriad of other local church projects to reach new people groups and unreached geographical areas.
Many members have begun to believe that praying unitedly over families, evangelistic projects, schools, and churches does make a major difference in unleashing God’s great power.
God’s Prayer Priorities for Central California
We must be much in prayer if we would make progress in the divine life. When the message of truth was first proclaimed, how much we prayed. How often was the voice of intercession heard in the chamber, in the barn, in the orchard, or the grove. Frequently we spent hours in earnest prayer, two or three together claiming the promise; often the sound of weeping was heard and then the voice of thanksgiving and the song of praise. Now the day of God is nearer than when we first believed, and we should be more earnest, more zealous and fervent than in those early days. Our perils are greater now than then. Souls are more hardened. We need now to be imbued with the spirit of Christ, and we should not rest until we receive it 5 (emphasis supplied).
As a team of conference leaders and prayer team members, in the late 1990s, we believed we were led to involve the entire membership in united prayer. We agreed on eleven conference prayer requests as God’s priorities for the conference. A Prayer Priorities bookmark was mailed to every home, and we asked members to include these eleven priorities in their individual prayer times. We had no idea how God would provide resources for His priorities for Central. Clearly, God opened the storehouses of heaven through the evangelism offering.
A few women of a Bay Area congregation were praying over the priorities listed on the conference Prayer Priorities bookmark. One day they began asking God what they could do for their spiritually languishing church. God led them to make a bookmark of prayer needs for their own church.
They gave it to the members, and many started praying. Their small weekly prayer group grew. Answers to the God-directed prayer priorities on the bookmark began to happen. Members started reading their Bibles and inspired writings. The men began leading out in both church ministries and outreach activities. Members began to burn with the desire to share Jesus with others. Evangelistic outreaches have now begun!
Experiencing United Prayer
One day a wife threw her essential belongings into her car, crying out to God to speak to her as she drove down the highway. Just then a billboard came into view that read, “Turn Back, Next Exit.” She did and called my wife Janet. She was sure her marriage was beyond repair. Janet offered to pray with her once a week for an hour. “We are only going to pray, praise God, and claim His promises,” Janet told her. “There will be no negative talking or bad-mouthing your husband, and you must begin spending personal time with the Lord each morning.” The woman agreed.
The result was miraculous! The wife fell in love with Jesus and was smiling and joyous. Her husband began paying attention to her and spending time with her. They fell in love again—just like when they had first met. Her husband told Janet, “If you’d never prayed with my wife, we’d never have made it.”
When Janet shared this experience in one California meeting, a woman stomped out. Later, she told Janet that she’d been praying for her husband for years to no avail. Janet asked if she’d been praying with two or more. She hadn’t. Janet gathered several women together each week to pray with this discouraged wife. Within two years her husband, a very rough, hard-living man, was converted and baptized. A male church member called him every morning to pray and befriend this new member. Several years later, he is still in the church and calls to pray with us for all of our ministry needs!
Why do not believers feel a deeper, more earnest concern for those who are out of Christ? Why do not two or three meet together and plead with God for the salvation of some special one, and then for still another? 6
Through sharing how God is working through united prayer in small groups, modeling prayer ministries at camp meeting, and the Wednesday intercessory prayer times, united prayer in small groups and churches has grown dramatically.
After camp meeting one year, a man went home determined to be reconnected with Jesus. He’d attended a seminar on prayer and was desperate for God’s power in his personal life. He called an Adventist acquaintance, and those two men met on the phone at 5:00 a.m. every day to pray. They prayed for each other, their families, friends, pastors, churches, jobs, and the physically and spiritually sick. During the next 18 months, they witnessed amazing, miraculous answers. God manifested His presence to each of them, changing them from the inside out and turning their worlds upside down!
A local elder of a small, dying country church was dragged by his wife to a training seminar on united prayer. He was cynical and went begrudgingly. When he listened to a pastor describe how dramatically his church was changed when the elders began to meet regularly and pray, he got excited. He went home and joined his wife in calling his church to pray together. They turned their weekly prayer meeting into a gathering that really did pray.
They prayed over the empty desks in the small Adventist school whose survival depended on a growing enrollment. It wasn’t long before new students, unknown to the church members, began to enroll. The school grew from one teacher to two, and today it is financially sound. Next, they began to pray over the empty church pews. The experience was the same. People began “walking in off the street,” and the membership grew; it is still growing today.
The list of examples of “a power greater” being unleashed when we pray together could go on and on! But what we’ve learned is that when we do what Jesus and the inspired writings call us to do, we can expect powerful life-changing and church-changing results!
Satan cannot endure to have his powerful rival appealed to, for he fears and trembles before His strength and majesty. At the sound of fervent prayer Satan’s whole host trembles.7
Are there dangers and counterfeits to be avoided by God’s last-day people in individual and united prayer? Of course there are. When the Lord has a crucial truth that causes Satan and his host to tremble, the devil always seeks to pervert, distort, and undermine that truth by counterfeits.
The study and interpretation of the Bible, evangelistic outreaches to share this last message, church doctrines, policies, and worship have all been distorted through the generations, as has prayer. However, the truth is only validated by the attacks and counterfeits of Satan.
We must not ignore the “power greater” of praying together that can help unleash God’s last great revival because of counterfeits of prayer or false revivals. We must test all our beliefs and actions by Scripture and the inspired writings.
God has a bigger mission than we could ever dream or imagine. We are so privileged to live in these closing days of the great controversy. We believe that this generation will experience the fullness of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, just like what we read about in Acts.
As Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20, KJV). The presence of Jesus always changes everything and brings a “power greater.” Amen and Amen!
For more information,
or to contact Jerry and Janet Page,
go to ccc.adventist.org.
1 Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1 (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1958), 121.
2 Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 9 (Washington, DC: Ellen G. White Estate, Inc., 1990), 303.
3 Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, (Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1892), 236.
4 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1872-1875), 429.
5 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5 (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1882), 161-162.
6 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9 (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1909), 21.
7 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1885), 346.
Christ seeks to keep before our minds the course our heavenly Father pursues toward His obedient children, in delaying to answer their prayers. God would not have His people give up in discouragement if their prayers are not at once answered. He wants them to search their own hearts carefully, and with humility of mind. Have they used the talent of speech, given them to offer praise and thanksgiving to God, in hurting or discouraging any of God’s children? Have they used the precious gift of God, the voice, to wound the soul of saint or sinner? If they have done this, let them put things right, let them remove the poisonous sting. These efforts to preserve Christian love and unity are essential to a preparedness to come before God in faith and confidence, to seek Him with all the heart.
—The Signs of the Times, 03-15-99