Revive Our Hearts Podcast

When Women Pray, Day 3

Leslie Basham: Why do you need to spend time alone with the Lord? Here’s Evelyn Christenson.

Evelyn Christenson: You're giving out to your mate, your job, your children, your house, you're giving out all the time. But it's that time alone with God when it's God and you that He replenishes emotional bankruptcy, spiritual too. No human being can do this.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Wednesday, July 13, 2016.

Nancy: We've been listening this week to a classic series on Revive Our Hearts with Evelyn Christenson. Evelyn was the author of the bestselling book, What Happens When Women Pray?

Evelyn went home to be with the Lord some time ago, but she left behind a clear, strong life message on prayer. As we focus on prayer here on Revive Our Hearts this year, I really wanted to revisit this important interview. I’m asking for the Lord to give me and to give us a renewed passion for prayer leading up to the Nationwide Prayer Event for women called Cry Out! It’s coming Friday evening, September 23. I hope you’ll plan to be a part of that historic prayer event. You can get the details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Yesterday, Evelyn shared with us how a small group of women in her church, just three in number, banded together, thinking that they were going to be praying for revival in the church. But as they prayed for what she called, "six miserable weeks," God first required that they search their own hearts and allow Him to expose the sins and the pride that were in their own lives.

And not until they had been through that process, did God release those women to begin praying for His will to be done in that church. What happened next is something that can only be explained for by the supernatural presence and power of God.

Evelyn: We were released to pray for the church. It was the very next Sunday after we finished that my husband, who always gave some kind of an invitation at the end, started giving the benediction. He did not give an invitation, for some reason, and I was kind of startled.

It was in the hippie days, and this hippie in a black jacket swaggered down the aisle of our church, fell on his face in front of my husband, right in front of the pulpit. We had an overflow crowd in that big, new church, Nancy, and at least two-thirds of the audience got up, came forward, and fell on their faces before God.

For six solid months we had people stream down the aisle accepting Jesus, Nancy. Now Chris and I have talked about this a lot and I said, "What part do you think that Sig and Lorna and Evelyn on their faces being cleansed by God for six solid weeks—what part did that play in the revival that broke the next Sunday."

He said, "Honey, it caused the revival."

I'm so afraid of any pride. You see, Evelyn didn't do it. It was when there was nothing of Evelyn. But for us to even say that our praying was what caused the revival, I couldn't say it. We had no idea that there was going to be any revival. We were just going to start praying for the church.

Nancy: And even the desire to pray was something God put in your hearts.

Evelyn: I believe all revival has to start here. I don't think that this burden that we get is off the top of our heads. I believe it starts with God.

Nancy: It comes from God.

Evelyn: Maybe this is simultaneous. I don't know. He shows us the need, and He puts the burden on our hearts, and then we pray. I don't think we initiate any prayer, Nancy. I think it all comes from God.

Nancy: God initiates it, and we're just responding.

Evelyn: And it comes full circle. It's His will that we pray for His will. Then if it's His will, He answers. That's obvious. So then, He gets what He wants, and round and round it goes.

It's just a complete oneness with God. That is such an awesome, awesome thing, to be in that oneness with God and what He wants and in His plan. If you want to know His plan, just watch how He answers your prayers.

You will see what He wants to do with your prayers. We like to write in our little journals: "I prayed. He answered; case closed. That is not what God does. He writes what I am going to do with those answers to you, to the people for whom you prayed, that circumstance, whatever it is. That's the important part of prayer.

Nancy: Prayer is really linking up with God's heart.

Evelyn: It's linking with God's heart. Prayer is all just plain relationship with God.

Nancy: It's not just saying, "God I want this. I need that." Then God becomes our errand boy.

Evelyn: No, He's not our Sears catalogue. Not at all. It's just that our hearts are in tune with Him. This takes a lot of listening and this is another phase of prayer. It's extremely important that we listen to God; we listen in His Word, and then we are the flexible ones. We've been hearing at this conference that God is sovereign. He never makes a mistake. He's never too soon, too early, too much, too late, too little. It's perfect. That's God.

Nancy: You began with this group of three women crying out to God. God starts to send revival in the church. Do you stop praying?

Evelyn: No, we did not. The amazing thing was Sig, Lorna, and I had been praying well into our fourth year by the time I was asked to do this job for the Crusade of the Americas. They wanted somebody to find out what really happens when women pray.

So they asked me to do this. And here again, I didn't have a clue. We had women's circles. So I took the Spiritual Life Chairman from those circles, gathered them around my dining room table, told them the assignment, and all they did was gripe at me.

Nancy: These were the women you thought would be the spiritually-tuned ones.

Evelyn: They should have been. I had to get on their level and tell them how much I needed prayer to convince them. Then they started praying—two words, three words—"Forgive me, Lord, show me."

God taught me something back then. I have found that at least 50 percent of women don't have a clue past those two words. "Forgive me, cleanse me, show me, use me." They've never gotten that far.

God had to take me back to that place so that when I got out teaching, I wouldn't expect people to be where my prayer group, my little triplet had been, or where I had been even at nine years old. So there's a lot to learn.

Nancy: What happened in that six months?

Evelyn: Oh, by April, (this had started in January) by April there were no dry eyes, we had gotten so many answers to prayer. It was just awesome.

Nancy: These are the gripers.

Evelyn: These are the gripers. By the end of the end of the sixth month, when I had to report to the conference about what had happened, the church women were banging on the doors of our prayer room asking, "Please let us join you."

I couldn't. I had a six month commitment. When we opened it up, we had a huge room that was packed solid with those women.

Nancy: Who wanted to learn to pray.

Evelyn: Who wanted to learn to pray, and they prayed. One of the main things was the six "S's."

Nancy: Tell us. This is the six "S's" of teaching people to pray corporately.

Evelyn: Yes, corporately, in your little group.

The first "S" is you pray subject by subject.

That means you only pray one subject at a time. And when you pray that subject, everybody has a chance to pray on that same subject.

Nancy: One subject like what?

Evelyn: The youth choir is going to have a concert, and the choir director is sick. That happened to us. So you all pray and each person has a chance to pray on that subject before you go on to the next subject.

How you pray are the next two "S's."

First you pray short prayers.

Now, if you're in a group and you're all going to pray on the same subject, it's just like you and I are talking. I can say something; you can say something. It's a conversation. So each one prays, and they have different angles. They pray for this or that or whatever it is on that subject.

Nancy: But short prayers.

Evelyn: They pray short prayers.

They pray simple prayers with regular words we use.

You don't have to swallow the Book of Romans whole to pray in a little prayer group. God knows all those big words, but He knows our little words, too. He knows our simple words.

This works with pre-schoolers. It works with any age: Golden-agers, feeble people. It doesn't matter because they can just pray one thought that they have. Simple and a short prayer, and then you go on to the next subject. The best part is that you can cover, in an hour or half an hour, an amazing amount of prayers. Otherwise, you pray for about 3 out of 25 or something like that. You know, that's what happens.

Nancy: So this might be a mom's prayer group or any kind of group of people. They pray subject by subject, short prayers.

Evelyn: We pray specific requests.

That means that we are very definite about what we pray. We write down the request, and we date it so that we can write answers for very definite reasons. One is to praise. If you never praise Him for what He does, don't keep asking Him. Another is that we learn from how He answered and what He answered. We learn about prayer.

Nancy: You think a lot of times we're praying prayers that are too general?

Evelyn: Oh, I do. "God bless America." That's wonderful, but what does it mean? Or, "God bless the world," or "Lord, bless all those hurting people in Africa." You know, there's more to prayer than that. Be specific. You're asking God what you're praying about, you're not giving Him the answer. And then small groups are very, very important.

Nancy: That's another "S."

Evelyn: That's another "S," small groups.

Because people aren't inhibited. I can get almost anybody to pray something in front of one or two people but in front of thirty, forty or fifty people they just won't do it. So it's just amazing to watch this happen. There's another angle to the small groups too, and that is that Jesus is in the midst. That's extremely important. Then the very last one is the silent period.

We have an America that doesn't like to be quiet. And sometimes I wonder why we even have to have some music going when we're trying to pray? Why do we think that somehow we have to have something going, somebody has to be praying or that somebody has to be doing something all the time. That's our American mind-set.

Nancy: You're saying that silent periods are okay.

Evelyn: They're okay because this is God's turn. This is when we learn to keep still. Of course, in our own devotional time this is extremely important, but it's important in our prayer times not to panic because some human being isn't talking. That's God's turn.

Nancy: I'm thinking about how often I've met individual women over the years who have a real hunger and heart for God. They have a heart for prayer, but they feel very alone in their church because they don't feel like their church really has a heart for prayer. What do you think of that one?

Evelyn: The sad thing is that they could be right, that the church doesn't have a heart for prayer.

Nancy: What's that woman to do? Can she change the whole church?

Evelyn: Well, she won't do a thing. God will. But you start off very, very small.

First of all, pray about the person with whom you're supposed to pray. Ask God to bring you one or two people who will pray with you. That is extremely important.

We have our little triplet program that's so important in evangelistic praying. That's the first step.

Nancy: What do you mean by that?

Evelyn: The triplet praying is just three Christians each choosing three non-Christians whom they know, and then those three Christians commit to get together once a week for a minimum of fifteen minutes (they can pray for as long as they want) to pray for the salvation of their collective nine.

It works tremendously because with one you get very lonely. With two, if one is sick or gone or something, the other one may or may not pray. If you have three, you're pretty apt to have two left and that is very, very good.

And then there's that accountability in there, but with three there's accessibility. You can get three together every week. Just try and get seven together every week; it just gets to be a hassle.

So I've always had someone with whom I was praying. And, of course, if you're married, your husband and, of course, your children and all that. But there's something in addition to all of that, it should be somebody who will keep everything confidential that you say, and you will keep everything confidential that they say. It's that person you can trust.

It doesn't have to be a Christian of great maturity. You can grow together. It's quite amazing to watch. In fact, it all comes together eventually. And it can grow and it does for the whole church.

Nancy: How does it grow? This little group starts to pray.

Evelyn: People will come along and they'll pray with it. Then they'll see what's happening. We have a lot of stories about our triplet program, how this happens.

Another will start a triplet, and then they'll start a triplet over here until the whole church gets evangelizing through prayer. It's a very powerful method of evangelizing, of course.

A large percentage of the ladies in that church wanted to learn to pray. They had seen what was going on with us. We learned God changes the pray-er more than He changes the person for whom you pray.

Nancy: Now talk about that a minute. You've said that as you've prayed, God has changed you; and as I pray, God will change me. What happens?

Evelyn: Well, I knew it as a theory in my own life, that God changed me when I asked Him to cleanse me. Theologically, that's obvious. But when you pray, somehow, if I am praying for you, I am not going to be griping about you. I'm not going to be gossiping about you.

The sweet and bitter water can't come out of the same fountain and out of my fountain cannot come two kinds of things. If I am praying, I am a different person. I am different than I was when I was not praying and finding fault, as it were.

Nancy: That sounds like it might be very important for a wife in terms of praying for her husband.

Evelyn: Very, very important.

Nancy: How can prayer change things? Maybe her husband is not really a man of God or not really walking with God. She's praying for her husband; she's hoping God will change Him. How's prayer going to change her?

Evelyn: I'm laughing because I have every book and every Bible I've used devotionally since I was eighteen years old. When we first got married, I had so many notes in there on how I wanted God to change Chris. It was really good.

Until I finally came to the Lord and said, "Change me" (which I have written a book on out of Romans 12:2). "Be ye not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." But one of the main ways He does that is . . . In that book I gave the seven ways through prayer and through the Word.

But He changes me. That little griping group was in tears by April. The Lord had changed us. My husband, the pastor of the church, while we were doing that said to me: "If God never answers one of your prayers (talking about our little group), what He's doing to you who are praying will make it worth it all." Now, that's the observation from the pastor.

Nancy: It's really that you're getting in the presence of the Lord and that you're being transformed into His likeness.

Evelyn: That's the secret, that's the goal of the Lord, Change Me book—to be transformed into the image of God's dear Son. And it works. Remember the apostles?

"They took note of them that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). Nancy, do you ever notice when you're introduced to someone or you're in their presence, you just suddenly, absolutely know they have been with Jesus. And when Stephen was being stoned, he glowed. They saw Christ in his face.

I've told my children this; I've brought my children up on this. "Watch your friends, you become like the people with whom you associate." It's true with adults.

So if we're associating with these peripheral church members who are trying to keep one leg in the world and one leg in church, if we're always out there with them or if we're spending time with Jesus, do you see the difference? And the thing is, people can tell.

People have said to me, "I can see Jesus." Why? There's nothing in me. But when I am with Jesus enough, I am like Jesus. I become like Him.

Nancy: Now, I know you've paid a price for that to be true in your life. You're one of the busiest women that I know. You travel incessantly. Many of our listeners will not be aware of this but, at this point in your life, a third of your heart is functioning. Did I say that right?

Evelyn: Yes, that's right.

Nancy: And I asked you if you had slowed down at all and you said . . . 

Evelyn: Not yet, but soon.

Nancy: I don't know when soon is going to be. You keep an incredible schedule. Yet I also know for years and years you have started each day early in the morning alone with the Lord before you hit your schedule, your meetings, your speaking. Why is that so important to you?

Evelyn: It's life. It's my life. Sometimes at 3:30, sometimes as early as 2:30 but mostly it's 3:30 or 4:00, I have with the Lord two or three hours, absolutely alone. Nobody realizes what this is to have this unbroken time especially a mother, a pastor's wife and all these little kids.

Nancy: This was happening when you had children in the home. I can hear a mother saying, "I could not get through my day." 

Evelyn: It wasn't Evelyn. I would go down to my old green chair, and the children were watching this. I didn't know they knew I was down there.

Nancy: This was where you met with the Lord. How did you have strength to get through your day as a mother?

Evelyn: I tried really hard to take a nap after lunch. That was very important. But there were times when frequently . . . Now as I get older, I pray a couple of hours, then I go to sleep for an hour or two, and then I get up. But I would be weeping.

Nancy: Why were you weeping?

Evelyn: Weeping over my family, myself, what I was going to teach the next day. Don't you weep over, "Lord, what's your burden for these people"? And I would weep and pray and agonize and wrestle. Wrestle is a good word for that kind of praying.

Nancy: You're reading the Scripture as you're doing this. Do you pray a lot through the Scripture?

Evelyn: Oh, yes, the Holy Spirit will recall a Scripture, and He will make it fit into the next day. I don't have a clue what's going to happen.

Nancy: I think some mothers might say, "I'm not a speaker." Some empty-nesters or a widow living on her own with a limited income, she might say, "I don't have all the demands on me that you do. I'm just an ordinary woman. Do I need to be praying this way"?

Evelyn: This isn't just for speakers. This is for every single Christian. I don't know what I would do without those times alone with the Lord. You give out, whether you're a speaker or not. You're giving out to your mate, your job, your children, your house, you're giving out all the time. But it's that time alone with God when it's God and you that He replenishes emotional bankruptcy, spiritual too. No human being can do this.

We expect counselors and a mate, somebody to do it for us. If you can just have a child, then that child will fulfill everything. That's not true. All of our biggest, deepest needs cannot be filled by anybody but God.

But you have to give Him time. You have to be with Him. I'm not saying everybody has to have two or three hours in the middle of the night. There are times when you can be alone with God—no matter how busy you are. Part of it is priorities.

Well, we all have priorities. God can't decide them for us. We either decide to give Him time or all the tyranny of the urgent that sometimes isn't urgent at all. It's a matter of our mind-set toward God, who's important, what's important in our lives.

Nancy: We’ve been listening to an interview I recorded with Evelyn Christenson before she went to be with the Lord in several years ago. I hope hearing from Evelyn today has increased your hunger for prayer to grow.

To follow up on today’s conversation, I want to encourage you to get a copy of Evelyn’s classic book, What Happens When Women Pray? We’ll send you a copy when you make a donation of any amount to keep the ministry of Revive Our Hearts going. The book will show you how to pray more effectively so you can influence your family and your church. Today’s the final day to take advantage of this offer, so be sure to make a donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.  

I’m asking the Lord to place a deeper hunger for prayer in the hearts of thousands of women for such a time as this. What time is this? It’s a time when morality and basic understandings of gender and marriage is being re-defined by our culture that has rejected the truth of God's Word. It’s a time of unrest and violence that are shattering any sense of peace we may have had. It’s a time of financial insecurity And it’s a time when so many women are facing dire needs within their own marriages and families. These dark days for sure. But this is not a time to despair. These days present an opportunity—an amazing opportunity—for the Lord to display His power in amazing ways. That's why we need to seek His face and to ask Him to show His power by reviving the church and drawing the hearts of lost sinners to Himself.

That's why we are coming together in an urgent call to prayer at the Nationwide Prayer Event for Women called Cry Out! It’s coming Friday evening, September 23. I’m trusting the Lord to make this an historic event—one you will always remember and be able to tell your children and grandchildren, “I was able to be a part of that night.” So I want to encourage you to circle this date on your calendar—September 23.

Ask the Lord who'd He want you to invite to be a part of this event with you. You can gather in your home or church or some other location. Then you can connect to this free, three-hour simulcast over the Internet on September 23 as you cry out to the Lord with thousands of other women across this nation and around the world. For all the details on being part of Cry Out! September 23, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Can you imagine hearing a recording of a sermon and then moving across the country because you’re so desperate to know the truth you heard in that message? Tomorrow we’ll hear about a woman who did exactly that. It’s an encouraging testimony about the need all of us have to truly know the gospel and to be awakened to that truth by the Holy Spirit. We’ll hear from Lore Ferguson tomorrow here on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.