Recently, I spoke at a missions convention. Immediately afterward, a woman in her late ’40s came to my table in the foyer. The first question out of her mouth echoed what many people have asked me over the years, “Why don’t we see the miraculous things in North America that people experience in other countries?”
After living many years in Central America, I’ve learned that our lives are like a puzzle. In Asia, Latin America and Africa, where people experience miraculous breakthroughs, God is a very large piece in their very small puzzle. They lead simpler lives and focus on the basic necessities of life. In North America and Western Europe, God has been unfortunately reduced to a very small piece in our very large and complex puzzle. We fill our lives with insignificant things that overwhelm us. The key to miraculous breakthroughs is to make God a bigger piece of our life, and the best place to start is prayer.
People in the developing world understand that two of the most important pieces of the human puzzle are our need for God and the time we spend with Him in prayer.
In Latin America, for example, people clearly have a need. Their options are few and far between. Believers are consistent in their prayer lives and see miraculous things as a result. Many attend all-night prayer meetings. In some cases, churches hold prayer gatherings where people come and go over a 72-hour period.
In contrast, in the United States we don’t feel we need God. We have a plethora of options for just about any dilemma we face. As Steve Jobs used to say, “There’s an app for that.” As a result, God has been squeezed out of our lives, and we’ve replaced Him with the trivial — entertainment, gadgets, money and experiences that provide a temporal escape from the pressures we face.
Recently, I got up at 3 a.m. and drove as quickly as I could to get something that I had been anticipating for six months. The streets were empty until I reached the outdoor mall. When I pulled in, there were 90 people sitting in lawn chairs who had arrived the day before. For the next eight hours, I patiently waited, and when I finally made it to the front of the line, the crowd had swelled to 2,500 — all for the latest iPhone. Ironically, I bought the device with the hopes of making my life simpler.
In contrast, for the believer living overseas, God is one of the highest priorities. Last year, I was invited to speak at a Tuesday and Wednesday-night prayer and miracle campaign in Buenos Aires. The pastor announced the two-night meeting the Sunday before, giving the people two days’ notice. At 2 p.m. Tuesday, I went to the church to record my radio program in its studio.
As I walked out of the lobby to return to the hotel, I noticed about 400 people standing in the pouring rain in a long line around the block. The person driving me to the hotel said, “These people are waiting for the service to begin tonight.” I was shocked. What were they doing while standing in line? Praying.
That night, the sanctuary was packed to capacity (2,500) and the overflow room had an additional 1,000 people. At the close of the service, the ushers had to check under every chair and pew, because people regularly look for places to hide just to get a decent seat for the next night. Two local hospitals sent ambulances with six children who needed prayer. Even the physicians there recognize the need for God’s intervention. Many people at the meetings testified about experiencing miracles, and it wasn’t because of a dynamic sermon or great worship. It was because they placed their faith in God and spent time with Him in prayer.
Those wonderful people were not there to hear me. They were there because they needed God. Being with Him was more important than any gadget, distraction or time-consuming piece of the puzzle. Because of that commitment and dedication to prayer, they experience breakthroughs and miracles regularly. They stand in line for God. We stand in line for stuff.
If you want to experience miracles, eliminate some of the useless pieces of your puzzle and replace them with prayer. As you spend time with God, you will see amazing breakthroughs in your life and in the lives of your loved ones and friends. God answers prayer, and He looks forward to answering yours.
Jason Frenn is an AGWM missionary evangelist and the author of The Seven Prayers God Always Answers.
Jason sent me this article which I originally posted earlier today on Tortilla Press, the blog site for the Latin America and Caribbean Writers Guild.