Dr Kevin Blackwell

Information on Church Health, Disciple Making, Ministry Leadership, theology and Spiritual Growth

The Least Prayed Prayer and Satan’s Most Consistent Lie

     I have always been humbled by the story of Baptist missionary William “Bill” Wallace.  The son of a physician in rural Tennessee, Bill was more interested in auto mechanics than going to the foreign mission field.  On a hot summer July afternoon as he was in the garage trying to get an old car to crank, God intervened in his life with a powerful and clear calling.  Bill put down the wrenches and picked up his Bible committing on that day that his life would be given in service to the one who had saved him.  He felt a strong calling to be a medical missionary and to this calling he would commit the rest of his life.  The next ten years of his life was spent in school studying medicine finally receiving his medical degree.  After receiving his education he sat down and penned a letter to the Foreign Mission board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  His words to the mission board are a clear reminder that God doesn’t regard our ability as much as our availability.  “I must confess, I am not a good speaker nor apt as a teacher, but I do feel God can use my training as a physician. As humbly as I know how, I want to volunteer to serve as a medical missionary under the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board.”[1] 

     Little did he know that an ocean away Dr. Robert Beddoe of the Stout Memorial Hospital in Muchow China was writing his own letter to the board.  His letter was one of desperation and included a simple prayer, “O God, give us a surgeon.”  On the desk of the president of the Foreign Mission Board lay two letters which had reached him almost simultaneously.  Shortly afterwards, Bill Wallace was on his way to China.  In the 15 years that he would spend at the Stout Memorial Hospital many lives would be impacted by his medical abilities, but mostly through his gospel witness.  As he wrapped wounds he would tell of the love of Jesus Christ.  As he prepared people for surgery he would tell of Christ.  As he ministered with post-op care he would share the love of Jesus.  Though his life would be taken through the communist political uprising, his impact for Christ continues to this day.  Thousands of Chinese people heard the gospel because a 17 year old boy from Tennessee put down a greasy wrench and stepped out of his comfort zone and responded to an extraordinary call. As inspiring as Bill Wallace’s story is the simple truth is that most Christians will never respond to the call of Christ to live beyond themselves. 

Most Christians will live and die without making any major contribution to cause of making Christ known. In the average church in America the majority of people sitting in the pews are not fully realizing all that God wants to do in their life. 

Oh sure, most are good church members and even good Christians.  Most will give a tithe, many will agree to serve on a committee or church board, and some will teach a Sunday school class.  God doesn’t call everyone to be a missionary to China like Bill Wallace, but there is a general calling for every believer to make an impact on this dark world. The majority of Christians are content with being saved, attending church and serving when asked. (If you have ever served on a nominating committee you may disagree with that last statement.) If most people see us as a “good Christian” that seems to be enough to satisfy our sanctified souls. 

Perhaps the prayer that is least prayed among Christians might be, “Lord use my life in extraordinary ways.”  And perhaps Satan’s most consistent lie to Christians is, “God cannot use you.” This is a dangerous combination.

     We often look at those whom God is using in extraordinary ways and feel as though they are superhuman or “so much better” than us.  After all, we think, “I am just a simple person without any unusual abilities.”  You might not be the best singer, teacher, or even have an outgoing personality but no one should ever say, “God can’t use me.” Our lack of belief in God’s ability to use us says much about our view of God.  What if I told you that folks just like you are the very people God uses?  Scripture certainly affirms the truth of that statement. 

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you.  Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT

     A recurring theme of Scripture is how God continually chose the most ordinary people to do the most extraordinary things.  God chose Moses, a man with a speech impediment, to speak to Pharaoh.  He chose David, the smallest of the brothers, to defeat Goliath.  He chose Nehemiah, a simple cup bearer for a pagan king, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  He chose Mary, a peasant girl from a no name town, to give birth to the Messiah.  He chose the Shepherds, the lowest social group on the planet, to be the first to hear about His birth.  He chose Paul, a Jewish elitists who killed Christians, to take the Gospel to the Gentiles.  For everyone who says, “God can’t use me”, or “I am nothing extraordinary”, I would ask you to look at his track record. Take time to read about the people in Scripture that God used, you will quickly find that they were anything but extraordinary.  God is never limited by our inabilities.  He WANTS to do and CAN do extraordinary things through your life. I am struck by Bill Wallace’s words, “I am not a good speaker nor apt as a teacher…but I want to volunteer.” 

We are ordinary, but within us lives someone extraordinary.  He is the only extraordinary thing about any of us.

When you understand the power of the Holy Spirit that resides in your heart and combine that with a willingness to surrender and be used, God will bring such fulfillment, usefulness and effectiveness to your life you will hardly be able to explain the results.   I believe one of the main reasons so many churches are not growing is the lack of vision that individual church members have for their own spiritual lives.  If 90% of the people in a church have no desire to do big things for God then the church collectively will accomplish very little.  Growing churches have members who are movers and shakers for the Kingdom, they are living big, loud lives for God.  When folks like that come together with one unified mission the impact the church makes on its culture is simply extraordinary.

     As Paul writes his letter to the church at Ephesus he is overwhelmed with the need to voice a prayer for the church collectively and the members individually.  His prayer is recorded in Ephesians 3: 13-21.  The prayer transitions the letter from the theological section (chapters 1-3) to the ecclesiological section (chapters 4-6). As Paul ends the prayer his words climax into an eruption of ecstatic hope for the kingdom impact this church would make on their world.  In verse 20 he writes, “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”  It was Paul’s highest hope that the Christians of Ephesus would come to the strong realization of the powerful potential of one who surrenders to the Lordship of Christ.  The phrase “He is able to do” is the Greek word dunamai, from which weget our English word dynamite.  It speaks of explosive power, the kind that moves mountains.  I love the NKJV translation of this verse because it uses the phrase “exceedingly abundantly” to describe the potential impact the power of Christ can have through a surrendered life.  The Greek is a combination of three words smashed into one incredibly big word.  It literally means superabundance!  Wow!  Through the power of Christ the ordinary Christian can accomplish superabundance for the Kingdom of God!

     On March 2, 1988 God called me to the gospel ministry.  I remember that date because I wrote it in my Bible the evening I sensed an unusual calling on my life.  It was the greatest privilege of my life knowing that out of billions, God was choosing me.  My calling was also the most intimidating event of my life as I faced the immensity of all that a ministry calling would mean in the coming years.  At the very beginning of my calling to the Gospel ministry I was aware of two things; my inability to accomplish anything spectacular for God and secondly his ability to accomplish anything he wanted to through me.  I was a C student in school and had no real talent to do anything that would advance the Kingdom.  As I look back on 28 years of ministry I am amazed at all the things that God has done during that time.  Believe me when I say, that if God can use me for his glory then no one has an excuse. That is not false humility, it is just simple truth. It is my prayer that one day when I get to heaven I will see the full measure of the impact my life has made.  I believe I will stand in awe of what can be accomplished by a skewed and flawed person who simply surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit.  I believe the same will be true for all of those who choose to look beyond their own frailties and see a greater future as a tool in the hands of the Master. Though we may be ordinary and flawed the marvelous wonder working power of Christ can use us in ways we never thought possible.

Why not pray today for God to use you in greater ways?  Stop listening to the voice of the enemy; he only wants to disqualify you.

One day you will stand before the Lord and see the full immensity of his glory. It is my fear that some of you will come to the realization, that you accomplished so little for someone so great. Don’t wait till then to come to this realization, your extraordinary impact needs to begin today.

[1] Akins, Danel L. Five Who Changed the World: SEBTS Publishing, 2008.


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About Me

I have been in ministry for 29 years serving in various capacities including senior pastor, youth pastor, education and associate pastor. I serve at Samford University as Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the Ministry Training Institute. I am co-author of the book, Cultivate Disciple Making. I received his Bachelors Degree from Samford, a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Master of Theology from the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His doctoral work was in the area of church health and revitalization.  I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation thesis is An Analysis and Critique of Disciple Making Within Ecclesial Movements in the United States, 1970-2020, With a View Toward Implementing a Faithful New Testament Missio Ecclesia


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