I want to share a ministry secret.
Not my secret, mind you.
This secret is much better. And the best part is that you can put it to use whenever you wish.
Maybe you know about it already. Many do but, unfortunately, a small number actually do anything about it.
Billy Graham, whose ministry has experienced amazing success over the years, describes the secret this way: "The three most important things you can do are to pray, pray, pray!"
And that brings me to Pearl Goode. At Pearl's funeral service, Billy Graham's wife, Ruth, paid her tribute with these words: "Here lie the mortal remains of much of the secret of Bill's ministry."
When the 1949 Billy Graham crusade came to Los Angeles, Pearl ventured to the site and appealed to heaven for the event and the ministry team. "That night God laid those boys on my heart as a burden," she explained in a 1963 issue of Decision magazine, "and I have been praying for them ever since. I went to the crusade every evening as long as it lasted, and began talking to God about them, asking him to anoint them individually and to give them boldness in proclaiming the Word."
Soon she began to pray for every crusade, traveling to each city without attracting attention. Eventually, crusade organizers noticed that her name consistently appeared on volunteer lists. Arrangements were made for her to travel with the crusades so she could continue this critical role.
As "Prayer Historian" for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, music director Cliff Barrows remembers Pearl well. "She made it her ministry to be on her knees during his preaching and invitation time," Barrows said in a 2005 Decision article. "She would call out, 'Lord, bless Billy tonight as he preaches on the Cross. Pour out Your Spirit into his heart.' When you have somebody praying, crying out to God like that, it gives you great confidence that God is going to honor 'the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person' (James 5:16)."
Some accused Pearl Goode of following after Billy Graham to gain fame. In her 1963 article she invited her critics to spend an entire night fasting and alone in prayer "to see who gets the glory." An amazing prayer partner for an amazing ministry.
You know the secret, so now what?
Find your own Pearl.
Search for someone to consistently and intentionally pray for you as a leader and your entire ministry throughout the year to come. He or she prays every week, and you share needs, concerns, and reasons to celebrate. Or imagine what might happen if you recruited a prayer partner for every room in your ministry, or each small group leader. Should a teacher share a lesson with children without someone praying specifically and fervently for him or her? Billy Graham didn't try.
David Staal, senior editor of Today's Children's Ministry, serves as the president of Kids Hope USA, a national non-profit organization that partners local churches with elementary schools to provide mentors for at-risk students. Prior to this assignment, David led Promiseland, the children's ministry at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois. David is the author of Words Kids Need to Hear (2008) and lives in Grand Haven, Michigan, with his wife Becky, son Scott, and daughter Erin. Interested in David speaking at your event? Click here
©2010, David Staal
For well over 50 years, Billy Graham has been one of the most visible figures not just in evangelical spheres but in America and all over the world. He built the Kingdom by preaching the Word faithfully and passionately, but he built a global ministry by developing and exercising his skills in every area of leadership.