Conversation: Dick Eastman
Dick Eastman is president of Every Home for Christ, a worldwide ministry of house-to-house evangelism impacting more than 190 nations. He is the author of several best-selling books on prayer, including The Hour That Changes the World and No Easy Road. Eastman also serves as president of the National Prayer Committee, providing leadership to AmericaÕs National Day of Prayer. Recently, he spoke with Managing Editor Ken Horn.
tpe: How did prayer become a major part of your ministry?
EASTMAN: As a youth pastor in the 1960s I discovered the tremendous significance of prayer in the lives of young people. I had the typically rebellious youth group, and my pastor told me, ÒIf youÕll get your young people praying, youÕll watch your problems disappear.Ó
At the next youth service I had them all get down on their knees. It was like an altar call for everybody. It was quite a transformation for them, and we began having prayer retreats, taking young people into the mountains to pray for entire weekends.
On our first prayer retreat as youth pastors in Sacramento, Calif., we only took 17 young people, but I remember them lying prostrate before the Lord through the night weeping. At one point I think we had some form of a prayer retreat almost every quarter of the year.
Out of those experiences came the content for our Change the World School of Prayer. More than 2 million people have been through that and it has been taken into probably 55 to 60 languages.
tpe: Every Home for Christ reaches homes around the world with the gospel. How are prayer and sharing the gospel related?
EASTMAN: Every Home for Christ is founded on three unalterable convictions.
First, the Great Commission must be taken literally. Everyone deserves at least one chance to know who Jesus is. When the ministry began, the Lord gave a strategy of taking the printed page to where people live. Reaching homes is measurable and systematic. A couple of years ago we passed the 1 billion mark for homes we have physically reached.
Second, without unity the task is impossible. No entity or missions agency can do the job alone. ItÕs going to take the body of Christ.
Our third conviction has been the foundation to the spiritual power behind our ministry: Prayer will remove every obstacle.
I joined Every Home for Christ 30 years ago to develop the Change the World School of Prayer. IÕve spent nearly 18 years serving as international president. The answers to prayer IÕm seeing today go back to my early days as a praying pastor.
When I was youth pastor at First Assembly in Kenosha, Wis., I used to go down into the furnace room on Saturdays, often spending whole days in prayer. The Holy Spirit would absolutely seize my heart for lost souls. I prayed for thousands, then tens of thousands and then millions.
I would think, ThatÕs certainly not going to happen in my life. But, through Every Home for Christ, we have seen tens of millions of people make a decision for Christ. Last year we followed up more than 17,000 responses every day. Prayer works! I never could have imagined in those days how God would answer that prayer.
tpe: How is the National Prayer Committee promoting prayer for America?
EASTMAN: The National Prayer Committee formed in 1979. We would go to Washington, D.C., as a committee of about 12 or 15 and reserve a caucus room for a day. WeÕd invite people to come and we might have 20 or 30 people. It felt like our committee was the only one praying.
This last year the National Day of Prayer under Shirley DobsonÕs leadership (she chairs the National Day of Prayer Task Force) involved more than 40,000 gatherings, and it was standing room only at our Washington gathering. The Lord has taken the National Day of Prayer and turned it into a day of true focus. Hallmark cards and other greeting cards even list the National Day of Prayer just like Thanksgiving.
The Bible makes it clear: Prayer is connected to any spiri-tual awakening in a nation. The number of people who are praying gives me hope for a true spiritual awakening in America.
tpe: How should Christians be praying for America and the world?
EASTMAN: I encourage people to find passages of Scripture that offer a biblical pattern for prayer. My pattern is to pray over four focuses for the nations every day. First, I pray there will be open doors to get the gospel everywhere. Second, I pray for open minds — that people would have a spiritual hunger. Third, I pray for open hearts, that massive numbers of people would come to Jesus. Fourth, I pray for open heavens, for God to pour out His blessing.
God has answered those prayers for America during our history. In Charles FinneyÕs day people referred to Òholy zonesÓ where there was such power and such a sense of the presence of God that massive numbers of people would turn to Christ. You can read of manufacturing plants where men stepped away from their machines and fell to their knees to repent.
Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 to pray strategically. He first commands us to pray for everyone. ThatÕs a start. But verse 2 tells us to pray for Òall those in authority.Ó When you start praying for people in authority, that comes right down to our local officials, our law enforcement, our military and our judges. These prayers back up the Great Commission. Such prayer pleases God (verse 3). Why? He wants all people to be saved (verse 4).
Think of what would happen if each believer would take responsibility to pray for someone in leadership. The National Prayer Committee on the National Day of Prayer encourages people to adopt a leader, to pray every day for just one leader God puts on your heart. If enough believers did that and did it daily, I believe we would see it impact our nation.
tpe: How would you challenge TodayÕs Pentecostal Evangel readers to be prayer warriors?
EASTMAN: Robert Murray McCheyne said no amount of activity in the kingÕs service will ever make up for the neglect of the king himself. We can become so busy working for God that we neglect God. We just cease to get alone with Him and exercise the discipline of silence and waiting and listening in His Word.
I have learned I will never find time for prayer. I have to make time for it. Once that habit is formed, itÕs a thing of delight. I canÕt imagine not having that time in a given day. I like to mark my Bible and write dates in it and keep a journal every day of what God did today. What were the challenges? What were the victories? Sometimes IÕll look back a year, two years, and IÕm astounded to see the faithfulness of God through prayer.
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