Extreme Prayer tells Greg Pruett’s story, from a failing missionary with a failing marriage, to leadership in a ministry that regularly exceeds its ambitious goals in Kingdom advancement. All because of prayer.
What Pruett calls extreme prayer isn’t just asking for it and you’ll have it. It’s very different from expecting to get from God whatever you want. The prayer Pruett speaks of is shamelessly acting the part of the beggar that we are, while humbly taking our place in the calling we have—to seek first our Father’s Kingdom and righteousness.
Many of us are familiar with the ACTS memory aid to prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. As children of God seeking his Kingdom and righteousness, why not try ACTIVE prayer? Pruett suggests this memory aid:
- Adoration—worshiping God for who he is
- Confession—admitting and repenting of our sin
- Thanksgiving—lifting up our gratitude for what God has done
- Intercession/Supplication—praying for ourselves and others
- Vanquishing Satan—practicing regular spiritual warfare
- Extreme Prayer—maximizing all the prayer promises of Jesus
That last element, Extreme Prayer, is the focus of Pruett’s book by the same name.
In Jesus’ Name?
In Jesus’ final address, he said that praying in his name is a qualification for answered prayer. And he said it five times!
But how? Tacking on the words “in Jesus’ name,” is not likely what our Lord had in mind.
In Scripture, someone’s name represents his nature. So praying in Jesus’ name, Pruett points out, “means presenting requests that resonate with Jesus’ character, praying ‘for his name’s sake’ prayers that advance his plans for the earth—in other words, proclaiming Kingdom of God-oriented prayers.”
Furthermore, says Pruett, “we must believe and obey to see power in prayer.” This idea comes through strong in Jesus’ teaching and all the Scripture. In Pruett’s words, “There is no such thing as abstract faith apart from obedience….The degree of faith we have is shown by the degree to which we are faithful. We prove our faith by our actions.”
Talk about a worldview-shaking statement! “She quit breathing and her arms got cold. Then we prayed for her. She started breathing again and her arms warmed up.” Pruett heard those words on an crisis-filled night in Africa.
But like all of us, he’s also seen many people not get healed. We live in an imperfect world where God allows death and suffering to have their effect.
And what effect is God looking for? “None of us like to be weak and suffering, but when we accomplish something in spite of our inevitable frailty, God’s glory is magnified, and we get a more accurate picture of our own tender need for him.”
“We must not doubt by discerning or evaluating God’s goodness based on his answer to prayer….Pray, and God’s answers will grow your faith.”
The “Great Recession” of 2008 affected Pioneer Bible Translators drastically. Pruett, as president, had no strategy but to call the whole team to pray for funds. The figures, which had declined consistently through the first half of the year, suddenly rocketed upward during the latter half. No other action had been taken, but prayer and faithfulness.
In other years, similar things happened at Pioneer in the area of personnel. Ministry leaders set their sights on unreached people groups they believed God would have reached—and prayed for laborers.
“Jesus said that if you have faith, you can tell a mountain to go jump into the sea (Mark 11:23). That’s a visible, measurable result…Jesus wants us to pray for specific, conspicuous results.”
Pray for Who?
“The main examples in Scripture lead us to pray for believers to grow in faith and ability rather than for unbelievers to respond.”
Have you noticed this? When you begin to pray specific prayers, you run into the question of how to pray for unbelievers. If you ask God to change them, you know that he will not overrule their free will. How then shall you pray?
Pruett suggests, “I have observed that it helps to frame the specific requests in terms of God empowering believers to achieve his mission, rather than praying for God to change the hearts of unbelievers….I suspect that he freely commands those in his Kingdom, while leaving space to choose for those in rebellion against him.”
Jesus did not pray, “Cause those people to follow me.” He said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers.”
The Only Strategy You Need?
“God does not turn away from us when we pray about our strategies, but he wants us to make prayer the strategy.”
If that statement intrigues you, why not order your copy of the book and read about Pruett’s experiences and life lessons. It may change your life.
Better yet, start practicing ACTIVE prayer yourself.