In studying James Fraser (missionary to the Lisu people in Southwest China) I'm really wrestling with two things. Fraser is a man of prayer - serious prayer. Yet there are some things about his prayer that I can't wrap my head around.
First of all Fraser prays for hundreds of converts among the Lisu. When asked why he doesn't pray for thousands he answer, "Because the Lord has given me faith for hundreds."
This is difficult for me to wrestle with because I believe the Lord has given me faith for this city. But if the city in which I live has MANY MANY more than thousands of people am I wrong about how much faith the Lord has given me? Should I re-evaluate and ask for 1/2 the city? Or hundreds of converts? If my job is to see a whole a city transformed and thats what I believe I'm called to do, then shouldn't I have faith that the Lord can enable me and my team to do what we've been called to do?
So this is my first area of difficulty.
The second is equally as difficult for me to understand. He prays and asks the Lord for hundreds of converts several times. Finally in 1915 when he's asking the Lord again for them he feels like the Lord says something along the lines of, "Ask my properly." He says it's as though a child were asking for something he wanted but kept nagging the father instead of asking appropriately once and then recognizing that his father will give him what he wants.
So he gets on his knees and he prays the "Prayer of Faith." And from that moment he's convinced the Lord has already answered the prayer.
Before 1916 he had seen single digit conversions. Then in 1916 he saw more than 600 Lisu people renounce their demon worship and turn to Jesus. People said to him, "The Lord has finally answered your prayer." To which he responds, "No, he answered it immediately after my prayer, it just wasn't realized until now." In fact he is so sure that his prayer is answered the moment he asks that he never asks for it again.
So what I'm wondering:
1. Is that fact that I ask everyday for this city a demonstration of my lack of faith?
2. Does it mean I simply haven't asked properly and my prayer will not be answered until I do ask properly?
3. Has my prayer already been answered and I'm somehow nagging God with continued asking?
My thoughts up to this point mostly point me towards uncertainty and therefore continued asking. Asking for more faith to ask appropriately. And then wrestling with God in prayer about the way I'm asking, whether or not he plans to see this city reached n my lifetime, etc...
Those of you who are called to something you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you cannot achieve on your own strength (which should be all of you - see John 15, but probably isn't), tell me how you depend on the Lord.
p.s. if you'd like to read "The Prayer of Faith" by James O. Fraser click here. It's ridiculously fantastic and annoying at the same time. This man was a humble hero of the faith.