I met in England, a lady who told this of bit of a story. In a book that came into her hand the statement was made that one might pray here in London, for example, for someone two thousand miles away, and that something would happen at the other end; that always when one prays something is happening at the other end, and is changing because of the prayer. This lady had a brother in India, a long distance away, who was not a Christian, and she at once thought, " Now, if I pray especially for him, will something happen? Is this statement of the book true!" She felt led to pray especially for that brother, that he might come to Christ. She went on praying, day by day, saying to herself, half wondering as she said it, "Is something happening at the other end?" and, in her heart, saying, "Something is happening; but I wish I knew!" By-and-by, in the course of the usual family correspondence, she put this sentence in the letter to her brother: "Has anything unusual happened to you lately? "That was the only reference she made to her special praying. Back, in the course of the mails from India, came a letter from him, saying this: "Yes, something has happened. Two months ago my thought was turned to God; I do not know why. It was not any book that I was reading; it was not any sermon that I heard; I did not go where I would hear sermons; but I do know that my thought was turned to think about God." He had been trained in a Christian home, he knew the whole Gospel story, and he now said, "I was led to give my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, and as I write to you I am a Christian man." She ran her mind quickly back over the calendar. The letter said, "Two months ago," and she found that two months carried the story back to the time when she began her special praying for her brother. That is, something had happened at the other end.
And, I have no doubt, that as one prays and centers all the power of one's thought upon, say, South Africa, upon those whom you may name here and there, upon this station and that, for my part, I am very clear about this: something is happening in South Africa. And, if it be true that you and I can join in prayer, or can go aside singly, or in twos, or threes, and pray that something may happen, something be changed through our prayer, then surely we will get more time alone with the Master to change things. And if things are not changed that ought to be, it will be a bit of reproach upon us that it is not so.
One's personal service must always seem very great. It is great. Wherever the Spirit of the Lord Jesus sways the heart, there is a passion to serve. You speak a word here, you do a kindly deed there, you conduct a meeting in this place, and you teach a class yonder. There is a passion to serve, wherever the Master's plan sways the heart. You must spend and be spent out. And yet, I think, the more we come in touch with our Lord Jesus Christ, and the more time we spend alone with His Word, the more we realize this: that we are doing most for man when we go away from man into the secret place with God.
When we are serving — I mean by that word "serving," direct personal service — it touches just the one place where we are of course. There is always a limitation in service. But prayer is peculiar in this: the limitations are gone. I may touch, in my spirit, by my prayer, different nations. When I go alone to pray, all the limitations of voice and bodily presence are gone. And I can loosen out the power of God that will touch a continent, and then a second continent, and more. If we realize that to be true, as without question it is true, we surely will get more time alone; time when the mind is fresh and clear, and the spirit is unhurried, time often, alone with the Master over His Word; and then we will ask, and then He will do. Although this will always remain true, there will be far more done than we know about. If we gauge our praying by what we know of the results, we will not do as much praying as we should. But if we gauge our praying by what the Master says is happening; and we walk in the dark as far as seeing is concerned, though not in the dark when we have the light of His face; if we go wholly by His Word, we will keep on asking and asking for bigger and bigger things.