The Power of Extraordinary Prayer
By Robert O. Bakke
Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
12.1 (Spring 2001) : 95-96
This lucid survey is about Christians uniting for fervent prayer before, during, and after Jonathan Edwards spoke. It seeks to ignite the flame for revival prayer as the new century begins. Bakke is head of the National Broadcast Concert of Prayer. Besides preaching, teaching, and writing, he has led prayer in this and other countries. Before this ministry he pastored Grace Church, Ridgewood, New Jersey. He challenges the church worldwide to engage in intense prayer that God will stir revival and awakening.
The book advocates concerts of prayer for several hours and also deep passion to repent because of prayerlessness, materialism, and other sins. It also pleads for a church on fire locally, nationally and globally. Bakke traces concerts to Jonathan Edwards’ sermon collection in the 1740s in Northampton, Massachusetts, and special prayer meetings before that in Europe, England, and America’s colonies. Using related Bible passages, Edwards wrote “An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union . . . in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. . . .” He and many others in the book believed in praying for God to bring Christ’s millennial reign. Only he did this from a postmillennial perspective, with Christ’s personal return after the millennium (55-56). Bakke shows that those of various doctrinal convictions can pray fervently for the salvation of others, revival, and the kingdom’s coming.
Chapter 3 traces prayer concerts on both sides of the Atlantic after Edwards’ ministry. Much space deals with W illiam Carey’s “Enquiry” into Christians’ duty related to converting the heathen. Chapter 4 bemoans the spiritual coldness as a new century begins (136-37), but is optimistic that united prayer can gain great things. Appendix 3 gives the 1999 National Prayer Accord calling Christians to join in daily and other prayer efforts. It lists leaders of many denominations. Pages 151-82 give notes on sections, 183-88 are a bibliography, and 3 pages contain a general index.
The highly readable book does not discuss ways to fan a prayer life, but rather imparts vision for individuals and groups to seek God’s will. Chapter 1, “What Is Prayer?,” sees prayer as communion and union with God as H e unfolds His will. It stresses God’s controlling the life and His Spirit’s giving grace to “agree” with others (Matt 18:15-17) in pleadings during extraordinary prayer vigils.