Pray for The Willing

We had tried to gather church leaders together in our rural community to pray for spiritual awakening for years. It just never worked. We changed times and venues. We tried personal invitation, mass mailings, all with little fruit. We reached across denominational lines and we reached within denominations. It just didn’t happen. It was discouraging, because we knew God has often worked in powerful ways through united prayer.

I was the leader of the local ministerial alliance and the prayer leader within my own denomination. I had decided that I just wasn’t going try anymore. I would just pastor my church and leave the community to others. I guess I was having a pitiful Elijah moment, like when he complained to God that he was the only prophet left and God told him there were 7,000 others who had not bowed their knees to Baal. Well, God was about to teach me something. Through the urging of several people in our community, I decided to give it one more shot.

I didn’t have the time or energy to personally invite the 60 pastors in our area to prayer. So I threw a Hail Mary, mailed out 60 letters inviting them to join together for prayer in a neutral location, and waited. The day came, I showed up, and guess how many came? Only 4 out of sixty were there, but they all wanted to pray. And, they all wanted to pray again the next week. Sometimes the group is small, sometimes it’s large, but there has been someone willing to pray together now every Monday for 8 years.

Those three other pastors had one indispensable quality. They were willing. This may sound over simplistic and blatantly self-evident, but God only uses the willing. People who won’t, don’t. People who will, do. Dream big. Believe in a big God and his global, eternal mission, but start where you are with who God gives you. Go with the willing.

It’s not easy to see the needs and remain positive when others don’t share in the vision. Jesus voiced disappointment when only 1 leper out of the 10 he healed returned to worship him. Paul expressed discouragement when Demas deserted him during his final imprisonment. There is always reason to be discouraged, but there is a greater reason  to be encouraged.

God is able to provide the willing. Paul wrote, “For it is God working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) So, pray for God to make you willing and pray for God to provide the willing. Then give Him thanks and rejoice in who He provides. In an age when there is so much focus on putting together the perfect team, it’s important to remember that we can only play and win the game with the team that shows up. Give God thanks for those who show up, and then pray for growth. He not only enables us to be willing, but He also enables us to act for His good purpose.

There’s an old saying that Ronald Reagan often used:You have to “dance with the one that brung ya.” Pray for willingness, pray for the willing, then trust the Lord and serve with whoever He provides. God has always done great things with small things. He still does.


Cyle Clayton is a 6.4 Fellowship Regional Resource Leader and Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Many, Louisiana.