When I would sit in the audience of a mission presentation during high school, I always wished I knew how to help besides giving money and praying. Most of the time, that seemed to be the only way to get involved, and I wanted to do something where I could see concrete results. Maybe that desire was tainted with masked selfishness, but I believe my generation can relate keenly to having a genuine passion to make a difference.
Obviously, donating money and praying are important. Incredible anti-slavery projects, safehouses, and rescue operations are made possible by the generous among us. And neglecting prayer would be like trying to drive to work without starting your car first. Turning your key in the ignition isn’t a glamorous act, but if you want to move, it’s absolutely essential.
If you read my last post, where I explored the beginnings of the original abolitionist movement, then you would remember revival preceded those deep social reforms.
No revival happens without prayer.
No stronghold of Satan falls without prayer. If we want modern slavery to end, we have to get serious about praying. I’m not talking about the languid, one-time “sending thoughts and prayers your way.” I’m talking about the kind of prayer that approaches the throne of God over and over, reminding Him of His Word, persevering until this dark stronghold is in ruins.
“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all this is in them, who keeps truth forever, who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.” Psalm 146:5-7
“Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, who write misfortune, which they have prescribed to rob the needy of justice, and to take what is right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless.” Isaiah 10:1-2
Our God is one who near the broken, who delights to rescue, and who will never let the oppressors go unpunished. And, in a mysterious way, many times He waits for us to ask before He will act.
Have you witnessed the power of prayer?
The people who believe prayer doesn’t work are those who have never prayed long enough to find out what prayer can do. There have been certain things in my life I prayed about for years before God granted my request. In our instant-gratification culture, praying consistently can be difficult and discouraging, because we don’t always see results right away. However, I’ve learned that praying with faith isn’t trying to conjure up great confidence or expectation. It’s not even intensity of emotion while pleading with the Lord. Rather, faith is demonstrated in the fact that you go back to God again and again with the same request until He grants it.
Would you ask your father for something over and over unless you believed he was willing and able to grant it?
So, let’s start asking our Heavenly Father to free the slaves.
Allow me to introduce you to a group of warrior women who did just that. Some time ago, I read the inspiring story of the founding of Elijah Rising, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending human trafficking in Houston. Their story began and continues with prayer.
Annika Bergen of Citizen Magazine writes in “To Adopt a Brothel,” “What if you could break open a trafficking ring just by standing in a parking lot and praying? What if you could shut down a brothel simply by bringing in a few cherry limeades to the workers?”
Their first answer to prayer came in 2009 when, after learning the horrors and prevalence of trafficking in their city, a group of ordinary people took a van to La Costenita, a bar in Houston known for offering prostitution. During the day, before the cantina opened for business, the group stood in the parking lot to pray and sing. A few months later, the police raided La Costenita, rescued eighty-four women, and shut down the bar.
In 2013, the abolitionists at Elijah Rising became aware that there were several hundred strip clubs or brothels in the Houston area thinly disguised as “massage parlors.” They decided to have churches adopt locations in prayer outreach, and one group led by Debra Parker began praying twice a month in the parking lot of one of these illicit massage parlors.
With prayer came action.
After the first several meetings, the women began to get antsy, and they decided to buy cherry limeades from Sonic for the brothel workers. They felt the Lord told them to buy four, and when they brought in the drinks, they learned that four girls worked there. They handed over the drinks and left. A few months later, they found out who owned the property, contacted the landlord, and told him they would expose him.
“We were just moms,” Parker says. “We had no idea what we were doing.”
Well, God shut the doors to that brothel and gave Elijah Rising the keys. This place of sin became a place of prayer. Today, this organization does intense outreach in Houston’s bars and brothels, but they always begin these battles with prayer. “The landscape out there is intensely spiritual,” says Cat French, founder of Elijah Rising. The group firmly believes that prayer is the most important and effective response to human trafficking, and they’ve witnessed answers to prayer firsthand.
Let’s bring this closer to home.
If you’re a Michigander like me, let me tell you that there are plenty of illicit massage parlors in our cities. Did you know Grand Rapids has a $6 million illicit massage industry?
What if we started prayer outreach? What if we met the kingdom of darkness with the kingdom of light? How would our city change?
It wasn’t until I joined a local prayer group some years ago that I began to realize the incredible power of prayer. By God’s grace, I’ve seen what prayer can do. I’ve seen it transform friends and family members. It’s transformed my own life in ways I never imagined possible. United in prayer, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can transform our community.
Pray for revival, that America will wake up and realize what’s happening to her children. Pray for those being trafficked, that they will be rescued and brought to a place of healing. Pray for the traffickers, that they will be brought to justice and convicted of the atrocities they commit. Pray for the people and organizations fighting this crime, that they would have victory over evil.
Let’s not neglect prayer.
“Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God…” Romans 15:30