WASHINGTON (BP) — Prayer is God’s chosen way of directing His actions toward the world and shaping history, David Platt told prayer leaders at a pre-National Day of Prayer breakfast in Washington today (May 1).

“God in His sovereignty has chosen to make prayer a powerful means by which we interact with Him to effectively shape the course of history. Is this not mind-boggling, totally baffling?” Platt said. “And this is not an overstatement. … Don’t underestimate the role of desperate prayer in your life and in the world.”

Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va., and former International Mission Board president, preached at the Men’s and Women’s Prayer Breakfast of the National Day of Prayer (NDP) at the Willard Hotel, hosted by NDP Chairman Ronnie Floyd. The event was one of two official pre-NDP events in advance of the May 2 annual observance.

Beginning with the Great Revival of 1907 in Korea, when less than one percent of the country was Christian, and seguing to today when 10 million Christians live in S. Korea alone, Platt emphasized the importance of the prayers of church leaders in provoking God to act.

“Spiritual awakening started in S. Korea, not when the country started praying, but when church leaders started praying, like really praying,” Platt said, “crying out to God all night in prayer, leading their churches to do the same.”

Churches in America downplay the importance of prayer, Platt said, and rely instead on human strength.

“I’m part of a church culture where I preach at conferences and events filled with hours of talks and sermons, and relative minutes of prayer and confession,” Platt told about 200 leaders gathered at the breakfast. “Leaders in this church culture are known today for preaching, teaching, writing and blogging, organizing and strategizing, planning and planting; but we’re not known for our praying and fasting.

“When is the last time we gathered together for church on Sundays and crowds of people fell on their faces weeping for hidden sin in our midst, crying out for God’s mercy upon us?” Platt said. “What kind of church culture have we created where we — pastors, churches, members alike — are content to go week after week after week in church, watch what happens on the stage, or worship and perform there, and then move on with their lives as normal?”

God’s calling on Moses to intercede for the children of Israel in Exodus 32:7 was Platt’s foundation as he expounded on God’s design for prayer. Platt described a holy and just God who appoints through His mercy and love a mediator for sinners. Platt tagged prayer as part of God’s unfolding plan of mercy.

“God will demonstrate His wrath against the people of Israel, unless, unless, unless a man steps in and mediates on their behalf,” Platt said. “God will be true to His covenantal promise to save this contemptable people. So how does he do it? … He does it through an unfolding plan; He appoints a mediator to stand in the gap for sinners.”

Platt gleaned from Scripture that God does not change, that neither His perfections, purposes or promises change. But in God’s unfolding plan, Platt said, He moves in response to prayer.

“What we’re seeing is that God wills to work through willing intercessors. When we pray God responds,” Platt said. “In His sovereignty, God has not called us in prayer to watch history, but to shape history.”

Moses’ knowledge of God’s unchanging character, or Moses’ doctrine, shaped his prayers.

“See how Moses’ doctrine drives him in devotion. He knows God is in control and he knows that doesn’t make prayer meaningless,” Platt proclaimed. “He knows God has purposes and he believes God’s going to use his prayers to accomplish those purposes.”

Roars, shouts of affirmation and hand clapping erupted among prayer leaders in attendance as Platt encouraged impassioned prayer and confession in daily life.

“A high view of God leads to a humble view of prayer. I’m not making this up,” Platt said. “People [in the Bible] pray and fire falls from heaven. People pray and the lame walk, and the hungry eat, and the dead come to life.”

Floyd, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee president-elect, led prayer leaders in focused prayer concerns flowing from Platt’s sermon. Floyd asked leaders to pray for seven centers of influence in America, including the government, military, media arts, business, education, the church and family, in local NDP prayer events extending through May 2.

In the second official event in advance of NDP, formerly persecuted pastor Andrew Brunson will speak at a formal dinner at 6 p.m. today at the Museum of the Bible in Washington.

The NDP annual service at 7:30 p.m. May 2 in Statuary Hall will be live-streamed on the NDP Facebook page and broadcast on television and radio.

*Article by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press.
*Photo by Cross Church