COMMENTARY BY REV. M. G. RAMEY
“Once a man understands his place in God, and how powerful a weapon prayer TRULY is; it makes it easier to stand against howling feminists, scowling sodomites, prowling criminals, ambushing reporters and feminized politicians. The God-fearing man KNOWS who he is, to whom he belongs, and his role as protector, provider, priest and king.”
–REV. M. G. RAMEY
The last great revival in American history took place because one man–Jeremiah C. Lamphier–believed the Bible, believed God, and started praying. Lamphier didn’t ask anyone’s permission; he wasn’t a preacher, or deacon in a local church. He was just a layman who–somewhere between 1857-58 looked at social conditions, did the work of an evangelist, and humbled himself before God.
He performed his Christian duty in reaching out to others in the name of Jesus Christ.
If any a man needed prayer, Mr. Lamphier did. He was a single, middle-aged businessman without wife or family. Yet, he was a committed Christian, ministering to others in New York City’s Hells Kitchen district–a rough part of the city even back in the 1850s. The time came when the work began to overwhelm him, and he sought to get a prayer room to refresh himself. He was granted a room at the North Reformed Dutch Church, located in the city’s financial district. History tells us that Mr. Lamphier took time out to strengthen his connection to God as he proclaimed Christ to others.
An interesting thing happened. As he prayed, others arrived to stretch their souls before the Lord. Sure, there was some trial and error. Soon, this man had six more men attend his first prayer meeting venture. From that initial Noon Day Prayer Meeting grew an awakening in America that lasted from just before the Civil War, well into the early years of the 1900s. It reached across the country, across color lines, across oceans and continents. Postcards, letters and telegrams soon came pouring in to the prayer meeting, asking for the prayers of the men (and later women) involved, giving praise reports of what soul-stirring events took place thanks to the prayers of many, and how the event had blessed people from one end of the earth to the next. Only eternity will reveal how many churches were awakened; preachers were revived, laymen did their jobs, and marriages and homes were restored.
Two great books–among others–covered this event in detail: “The New York City Noon Prayer Meeting.” By Talbot W. Chambers, and “The Power of Prayer: The New York Revival of 1858.” By Samuel Prime.
One man–on his knees before God–made a difference!
THE INFLUENCE OF ONE FATHER ON HIS DAUGHTER:
Right about now, I would expect a few men in the audience to start reaching for the smelling salts, because out ‘modern age’ has not done very much to honor men, let alone fathers. God created man FIRST, and woman SECOND. He had a firm plan in mind with his order of creation. Thus, my brother, once you get down to the bottom line, if you ARE a man, it’s because of providence…not because of an accident.
A few years back, I happened across a great piece on marvelicious.com about the origin and history of Father’s Day in the USA. The observance was started by Sonora Smart Dodd. Mrs. Dodd was attending church in 1909 and heard a Mother’s Day sermon being preached. Thinking back upon her own upbringing, she reflected upon how her father, Henry Jackson Smart, raised her by himself following the death of her mother. Sonora remembered the sacrifices her father made, the love he showed her and she wanted to pay tribute to him. Since her father was born in June, Sonora managed to hold the first Father’s Day observance in Spokane, Washington on the third Sunday in June, 1910. A few years later, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day–nationally–in 1924.
WHY AN INTERNATIONAL MEN’S PRAYER DAY IS NEEDED:
IF we won’t pray for ourselves, or one another, who will?
Bringing together (a) the fact that the church has served in times past as the launching platform for honorable efforts to showcase men and manhood, coupled with (b) a man’s need for connection to His God by prayer, it seems only natural that the church be called upon again to usher in a renewed effort to bring men back to their rightful place at the forefront of the home and society with the launching of an International Day of Prayer for Men.
There is still a need for men to pray in our modern era. Not only to pray FOR one another, but to pray WITH one another. The challenge? Changing the mindset that men should and must keep silent about their spiritual needs, in the wake of a global culture that views men as little more than ‘breath and britches’.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I am eternally grateful for my Pastor, Brian K. Shobe, and one of our Senior Deacons, Aaron McGriff, for their asking me to serve as Minister over one of our prayer bands for a season. It awakened in me a desire to ‘step up’ my OWN prayer life, and I bring some of these fruits of blessing to paper in this written work.
In the eastern, oriental culture, men are firmly at the helm of their homes, families, and communities with little question–but increasing challenge. In the western, industrialized (and feminized) culture, men are NOT regarded as being capable of these things, but rather women are held to be ‘more capable’ of replacing men in leadership positions across the board. Especially in the vein of religion. The western ‘view’ continues to ‘mission creep’ its way into eastern culture as a byproduct of expanding international markets, and increased infusions of western cash to make improvements to the infrastructures of foreign lands. Couple this with the expansion of social media and modern electronics, add to it the continuous exporting of western values via entertainment fare and you see an increasing disrespect for men in general, and men of color in particular.
Call me sentimental, but I still remember the effort of the Promise Keepers organization back in the 1990s here in the United States. I visited and covered a few of those events, got to hear REAL Christian men addressing crowds of men about the issues of life and eternal life through Jesus Christ, as well as hearing men singing praises to God, in some places 65,000 voices strong. This was a ‘touch’ of a spiritual awakening. However, it didn’t last long, as (a) the leadership of the organization bowed to external pressure to ‘include’ women into the mix, and (b) there was moral corruption at the top, thus ruining the impact of this international ministry. While the ministry may have been damaged, the ideal of uniting men to God is still in play.
Thank God we have another chance to develop this ‘men’s only’ mission…before the hands of God’s clock reaches midnight and signals the end of all things.
MEN MUST RESTORE THEIR CONNECTION TO GOD:
When men turn their backs upon God, the KJV Bible is full of examples of what God does in order to cause men to repent and seek Him out. In the Book of Joshua, for example, the infant nation of Israel was starting to move into the promised land. They had soundly defeated Jericho–but got their clocks cleaned at Ai. Why? Because a man by the name of Achan disobeyed God, saw the wealth of Jericho, and decided to ‘help himself’ to some of the material goods that were marked OFF LIMITS by God. Joshua, after the defeat at Ai, went to the Lord IN PRAYER to find out why the armies of the Lord were defeated. The answer came back: There was SIN in the CAMP.
The actions of ONE man managed to halt the progress of ONE nation.
Achan was given every opportunity to repent and confess his sin…but he chose to keep it hidden. Joshua revealed Achan’s theft of God’s property before the entire people. The end result? Achan, his wife, his children, and all of his livestock and property were taken to a designated place. ALL the people stoned them Achan and his family, piled the bodies and goods up and burned them with fire. The Book of Joshua records this tragic scene. There is ALWAYS a high cost associated with low living…and Achan found out that God said what He meant, and meant what He said.
I realize that there may be a few men that think this is all ‘Sunday School’ stuff and may not have ‘time’ for it. I also realize that there are other men who may be reading this who may think that it’s alright for their wives to supervise the church going in their households, and leave the breadwinning to them. Still other men may be behind prison walls, or in a substance abuse shelter, or on the street corner, thinking that they are disqualified because they have failed.
My friend, prayer WILL help turn your situation around, BUT YOU need to deal with the sin in YOUR OWN camp…before it takes you to the grave.
Many men around the world are leading defeated lives, attributable to either one or a host of sins that have not been dealt with in their lives. IF men are going to be all they can be for their homes and families, we NEED to take care of first things first and check our relationship with God. One may find that if they line up with God, there will be a HOST of blessings that He has had waiting for them. The best way for a man to find the strength to stand is directly proportionate to his ability to humble himself before God.
If I may be so bold, I make no apologies for being a Christian. I became one later in life, after having my fill of ‘doing it my way’. Sure, it cost me a few things. Yes, I’ve lost some stuff. Yes, there ARE people who don’t believe the changes in me. But I got back more than what I lost, because of the mercies of God.
And, it started by my seeking Him through prayer at an old church altar.
ONE GENERATION OF MEN MUST HOLD THE ROPE:
During World War II, a generation of Black men suffered a host of indignities in order to secure their place in military history, put the liars, catcallers and race-baters to shame and clear the way for a desegregated armed forces. In short, they ‘held the rope’ of courage and sacrifice in order for the next generation of Black men to cross the battlefield with their heads up, and their banners held high. One generation of men took the risks, suffered, sacrificed, and stood their ground–sometimes soaked with their own blood–so that the next generation of men could enter the leadership ranks and rise to the top.
Prayer–real prayer–gives a man a clear view of God’s purpose for his life, instills him with courage, fires his backbone, and gives him the strength to stand in the storms of criticism, protest, and hypocrisy. A man will find the strength he never knew he had to ‘hold the rope’ for not only the men in his family, but the men coming up behind him in his society.
I realize that there will be some who may ‘dismiss’ the need for a laying of a spiritual foundation in the men of our day. However, if men would start such a journey by reading the Word of God, they will see much of themselves within its covers.
Why has their been a ‘downplaying’ of men discovering the trueness of God BY prayer? Could it be that the fearful and double-dealing secretly know that they can’t stop a praying man? Prayer is that ‘rope’ that secures a proper connection to our Lord. And, once a man has it and nurtures the prayer habit, it is hard to stop his forward and upward progress, come what may.
UNDERSTANDING REAL PRAYER:
To be honest, many of us are of the ‘smartphone’ mindset–assuming an ‘app’ need be pushed, and a problem will be instantly solved. That may work for getting a bank balance, a weather forecast, or a hotel reservation…but it has nothing to do with REAL prayer. To put it simply, if one wants something from God, they must be connected to Him through His son, Jesus Christ and strengthen that connection with prayer.
Let me provide an example. In the Book of Acts, Chapter 19, the Apostle Paul is ministering under the power of God. If you are familiar with Paul, he once was named Saul, and was the top enemy of the infant church on behalf of the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin Council. Saul was so good at his job, that he managed to scare the church world…but he didn’t scare Jesus Christ. Along the Damascus road, the crusader against the church was brought to his knees, accepted Christ, became a champion FOR the church, the agenda of God and a true prayer warrior. In Acts 19, Paul was ‘on the job’ for the cause of Christ, which involved healing the sick, and other special miracles that were wrought from his hands. As the passage goes, certain sons of a Jew named Sceva saw what Paul had accomplished and sought to duplicate what they had witnessed…without taking the time to secure themselves into Jesus Christ. These men tried to take on a demon-possessed man under the name of Christ, without being secured IN Christ. The end results were destructive, to say the least. The demon in the possessed man awakened, looked at the pretenders, and beat them bloody. For good measure, these seven men were sent packing, butt naked. Amen.
Here are some quick lessons on prayer:
1. Don’t pray to God IF you are not connected to God. As a car battery won’t start a car without being connected to the proper electronic devices, prayer without being connected to God will give one a good show for those around them…but there is always TRUE evil that knows who is for real, and who isn’t. Make your connection sure. The Gospel of John, Chapter 3 and the Book of Romans, Chapters 3 and 6-10 are great places to start to check your connection.
2. The ONLY connection to God is through Jesus Christ. I realize that there are men who will take me to task for this, but, as a Christian myself, I have to stand with the God I serve and the Bible He provided. The mark of a man is that when he puts his foot down regarding an issue, his foot does not move. My stance on the best version of the Bible is the KJV. My foot will not move. The only way to God is through the doorway marked Jesus Christ. On this, my foot will not move. We are living in an age where real men are needed. Real men can only be raised up by real prayer, and there is a FIRM need for ‘prayers’ and not ‘players’. Amen?
3. Be prepared to humble yourself before God in prayer. The Bible is God’s ‘Talking’ Book. If you want to see how a particular thing is done in the scriptures, you have to both READ and HEED its contents. The Bible will talk TO a man, in direct proportion as to how that man humbles himself before God.
REAL ENEMIES TO REAL PRAYER:
A man who is connected to God by Jesus Christ will have three enemies who desperately attempt to keep him away from his prayer duty. The first enemy is our world system (better known as society-at-large). The second enemy is ourselves, the man-in-the-mirror, so to speak. The third enemy is Satan, otherwise known as the devil. Of the three, Satan is the most sinister, because he has blinded many in our day to doubt that he is real. His job description is a simple one: keep men from praying to God by any means necessary. Satan knows that IF he can keep man apart from God, man will never truly know the full love of God, nor the destiny and blessings He has in store for him on earth and in eternity. Keep a man from communicating with God through prayer, and you can push him into any evil desire available.
Prayer is more than a ‘spiritual exercise’. It is a hallowed means of direct communication with the throne of Grace. It is to the spiritual man what air is in the lungs of a physical man. One preacher held prayer to be so essential to living this life, that he developed the following stanza:
Little prayer; little power.
Much prayer; much power.
More prayer; more power!
WHERE MANY MEN HAVE ‘MISSED IT’…
I would have to honestly say that many men in my generation (I am over 50, thank you very much for asking) have missed out on God’s best–even IN the church–because of one tiny word: Sin. What IS Sin? It is the missing the mark of God, by God’s definition. What is a Sinner? A man who is without God, by God’s definition.
Whether by word, deed, action, non-action or interaction, we come up short. Instead of us confessing our sins, men have gotten ‘cute’ and have taken to ‘covering up’ their sins by changing their vocabulary, and relying upon God’s grace and mercy to ‘wink’ at their transgressions. It doesn’t fool Him…nor His true servants.
What do I mean by changing vocabulary? Simple. Once upon a time, ‘an affair’ was called what God called it: Adultery. One who likes to snort cocaine, shoot heroin or smoke marijuana is now called a ‘substance abuser’ instead of a ‘drug addict’. One who likes to watch an endless parade of sports on TV or in person is now called ‘a dedicated fan’ instead of an idol worshipper. I needn’t go any further. You catch my drift. Changing the name of what one would call being kicked by a mule does NOT change the fact that a kick DID take place. But wait, there’s more. Many men have gotten so sophisticated about their sin(s) that they have lobbied for changes in the law to help expedite the ‘healing’ of their sinful activities. ‘Sodomites’ in many places, are rapidly gaining the right to marry. ‘Pornographers’ are merely exercising their first amendment rights as they ‘ply’ their ‘wares’ with men, women, boys AND girls.
When one becomes a man, the biblical admonition is made clear by Paul. The time comes to put away childish things. No longer can men afford to be intoxicated by sports, or held to the sidelines by the whines of the social engineers, feminists and environmentalists. This doesn’t mean that the attacks will stop, nor will the temptations cease. This doesn’t mean that a firm connection to God won’t cost you your marriage, your home, or your children. Being secured in Christ and establishing a real prayer life does not guarantee that all will be sunshine and rosy days. It just means that more men will have to firm up their backbones and decide NOT to participate in activity that is detrimental to us. Prayer gives one clarity of vision to spot the dangerous. Furthermore, with the strengthening of attacks on ALL men, racism is going to have to be shown the door. There is going to have to be a renewal of supporting our fellow man and helping him to get to higher ground, regardless of his color, social position or economic level.
It starts with prayer; REAL prayer.
…AND HOW WE CAN GET IT BACK!
The first way in which we can mark an International Day of Prayer for Men is to have the appropriate Scripture verse: “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old (Psalm 44:1, KJV).” It sets the tone for the day, and gives men the courage to forsake their sins, to repent and seek the face of God.
He will draw near to us, when we draw near to Him.
Many men have heard of the triumphs and failures of David. Other men have heard about the trials of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they faced off against the wicked king Nebuchadnezzar, risking death rather than bowing to his pagan god. Still other men have heard of Jesus’ parables of the Prodigal Son or His miracles in feeding the 5,000. Such a day of prayer will give men an opportunity–perhaps the first one in years–to find their way back to God. As the old folks used to say: “God didn’t move away from us; we moved away from Him.”
What day would be good for such powerful prayer? To be truly thankful for such a day, the third Sunday in November would be an ideal ‘marking place’. It comes after Veteran’s Day, and just before Thanksgiving, here in the states. We–as men–need to be thankful for one another. November is the perfect month for the cultivation of such thankfulness.
Where should we meet? Well, there is no better place to meet than in God’s house–one’s local church. You see, many churches have been ‘programmed’ to see men either at Christmas time or Easter. Still other churches have been hoodwinked into believing that women can serve in the role of Pastor over them. A woman who dares to put on pastoral robes is a danger to the church and herself. Man did not get caught in the transgression; woman did! When a church allows a woman to take a role meant for a man, it makes a mockery of God and sets that church on a collision course with destruction.
The only way to clean God’s house is through obedience, prayer and consistency. The Bible holds: “Judgment MUST begin at the House of God.”
Man has his place; woman has her place. Let us not confuse the two. If I may use a sports phrase, men and women are on the same team in God’s house, but are called to different positions. The positions are determined ONLY by God through His Word.
God’s house IS above all things–a House of Prayer. Secret prayer at home, followed by public presence, worship and prayer at one’s church will do wonders for your life. (I’m sure that if you don’t have a church of your own, prayer can be made in advance of this date for the Lord’s leadership to an upright church!)
Why should men go to church? As one story goes, an old man continued to attend church, bring his Bible, and support his Pastor, rain or shine. The old man was hard-of-hearing, could barely see, and walked with the aid of a big cane. A young man watched this old man in his faithfulness, and asked him: “Old man, why do you continue to come to church, Sunday after Sunday, and support her?” Without batting an eye, the old man replied: “I want to let the Devil know who’s side I’m on!”
Brothers, whose side are YOU on? Surely, NOT the side of those oppressing men in our current day! IF you are on the wrong side, take heart! God does allow U-turns. If He can do it for others, He can take that limp or switch out your hip, and make you a MAN after His own heart!
As a part of this day, I would encourage that men should have a moment of silence for those men in their lives who have ‘cleared the way’ for them. The ‘rope holders’ of our past. Fathers, Grandfathers, Great-Grandfathers, Uncles, Coaches, Teachers…etc. A moment of silence to honor the passing of these men off the scene who have had great impact upon our lives. We didn’t get here by ourselves. Another man from our past helped to shape us into the men we are today…and this would be a great day to remember them…the third Sunday in November.
They held the rope for us. We need to do likewise for the men coming up.
This is our time to shine, and not to whine. Let us get together and storm the gates of heaven with our prayers. As the prayers go up; the blessings DO come down!
Here’s to an AWESOME first annual International Day of Prayer for Men! One man CAN STILL make a difference!
M. G. Ramey is a Minister, Columnist and Book Reviewer who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor to and supporter of IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD MAGAZINE, as well as one of the behind-the-scene tacticians for the International Day of Prayer for Men! © 2014, M. G. Ramey/Barnstorm Communications. Use permitted to IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD MAGAZINE.