The setting of the recent funeral service of Rev. Billy Graham held on 2 March 2018 on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, typified a “Billy Graham Crusade” back in 1949. The crusade made the news headlines and from that time forward, Billy Graham became known as “America’s Pastor” and “Pastor to Presidents”. Diverse crowd of thousands gathered under a massive tent; with a grand choir of voices; and the preaching of the Gospel. The many famous faces in attendance at his funeral testified that Rev. Graham could seamlessly “toggle between the rich and powerful and the poor and downtrodden.”
This reminded me of another person whose life had also impacted me. When he died, 150,000 people lined up the streets when his casket passed by. About 40,000 people, including Queen Mary of the United Kingdom, attended his funeral. It was a remarkable end for a man born into poverty and who worked in the midst of poverty his whole life. So much so that he was given the title “The Prophet of the Poor.” At the time of his death, his family-run Christian empire, had over 25,000 members across 91 countries. One of his famous quotes which galvanised the Christian world into action read like this: “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.” He is better known as the founder and the first general of the Salvation Army. His name? William Booth.
It was told in one of his autobiographies that once a Salvation Army team in France had sent a wire to General William Booth in London. They reported that there were no results from their evangelistic street outreaches. Booth wired back two words, “Try tears.”
The lives of the great revivalists like John Wesley, George Whitefield, D.L. Moody, and Charles Finney all attested to the fact that God’s cure for complacency is “tears” – a broken heart for the lost and the realisation of the spiritual state of your heart. The prophets of old wept with God for the lost; for travail brings forth triumph. It was prevailing prayer coupled with tears of people like John Hyde that brought revival to India. On the hills of Wales, the little prayer groups crying out in the night ushered in the mighty Welsh revival. There are numerous “prayer mountains” and prayer watches in South Korea that have been instrumental in changing the nation. Charles Spurgeon called it “Liquid Prayer”.
When was the last time you wept because you were so overwhelmed by God’s goodness towards you? Nowadays, we’re overwhelmed by many wonderful things around us – high-tech cars, gadgets and buildings, blockbuster movies and spectacular musicals, creative and ingenious designs, etc. We’ve a word for this – it’s called “epic!” But I wonder how many of us are overwhelmed by the Lord’s kindness, grace and mercy over our lives? Has God stopped manifesting His attributes over us or have we become numbed to it? For it’s “the goodness of God leads you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4)
When was the last time you wept before the Lord because you were frustrated by the lack of spiritual growth, the stagnant prayer life, dissatisfied with the spiritual state of nation(s), or the lack of desire to win the lost to Christ? There’s a beautiful Scripture in Psalm 126:5-6 that says, “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” It was said of the late Rev. Billy Graham that he’d be on his face before God, praying and crying before he went to preach the Gospel. He was dependent completely on God.
One of the turning points in my life was during a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit, where a prophetic couple who were part of the renown Argentine revival of the late 60’s and early 70’s, ministered in one of our services. The atmosphere was thick with the Presence of God and people started falling on my left and on my right. I remembered telling myself, “I’m not going down”, and so I volunteered to be a “catcher” at the altar area.
But God knew what was in my heart and how to get me. Suddenly the preacher stopped praying for people and scanned the auditorium, as if searching for something. Our eyes locked and she looked lovingly into my eyes and said, “Jesus”. The next moment, my legs went soft and I went face down and began to cry like a baby. While on the floor, this song kept playing in my head, “Lord, send revival, start with me. For I am one of unclean lips. And my eyes have seen the King. Your glory I have glimpsed. Send revival, start with me.” And I pray the same for you as you read this article – the “liquid prayer” encounter with the Holy Spirit!
As we enter into the week of Kingdom Invasion 2018, let’s prepare our hearts and make sure that the “soil” of our hearts remains soft and moist, ready to receive all that God has in store for each one of us during the conference. Don’t miss it! However, if you know that the “soil” is drying up and hardening, I’ve a two-word solution for you – Try tears!