07 March 2014
First lady : Prayer is the greatest power in the world
To mark International Women's Day, we delve into our archives and find the story of Lady Mary Bates, who became the first woman to chair the Evangelical Alliance (then known as the World's Evangelical Alliance) Council at its 101st annual meeting at Caxton Hall, Westminster, in 1947.
"Speaking from the chair, Lady Bates said: 'My interest in the World's Evangelical Alliance goes back many years. I think it was first aroused during the first world war, when Mr Martyn Gooch and the Council instituted those wonderful prayer meetings at the Queen's Hall; they were marvellous monthly gatherings. From that time to this, my interest has never wavered because of the foundation on which the work of the Alliance is built. It is true to the Word of God.
'Mr Gooch very kindly sent me a copy of the Charter that has just been drawn up, and that has made me all the more glad to be associated with the Alliance. It stands for everything spiritually that I value the most; it puts prayer where it ought to be; it stands for the unity of believers, all those who acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ as their personal saviour, and who worship him in sincerity and truth. Unity between all those who love him already exists, and that is the kind of unity which I desire to foster and help forward in every possible way.
'I will not say much about the work, for Mr Gooch has given us a wonderful picture of the part of the Alliance has taken in Europe in helping the Protestants there who find themselves up against it in a way which we in this country can hardly understand; it offers them that sympathetic support which is going to make all the difference to them, for it will help them to realise in a new way that if one member of the body suffers, the rest of the body suffers with it; we know how true that is physically; that when anything is the matter with one part of the body, the whole body seems to be affected.
'If only we could realise how true that is of the Body of Christ, it would, I believe, strengthen our sympathy and support for those who are less fortunate than ourselves. You and I know well the place that the World's Evangelical Alliance gives to evangelism. We know that all that is being done to set this poor, distracted world upon its feet again – and especially is this true of Europe – we know that it is all of little worth apart from Christ. That is the only power that can save the world, the power of God Himself. I would commend the work of the World's Evangelical Alliance, and ask you to support it to the full.
'I have just mentioned the place that the Alliancegives to prayer. I am sure I am voicing the feelings of everyone here when I say how we all thank God that our King has called for a National Day of Prayer. We have been feeling that God has been speaking to us as a people, and those of us who are seeking to serve Him have been longing for an outpouring of prayer and turning to Him. How glad we are, that since the King returned from his tour to South Africa, the call to prayer has gone forth. Now there is this time of preparation. I would commend to you the call made by the two archbishops; I do not think the secular press gave sufficient publicity to that call. They pointed out that it was a time when the nation should humble itself before God, realising how it had wandered from the old paths. "Them that honour me I will honour," saith the Lord.
'Let us be instant in prayer. Let us be like Daniel; he was burdened with the sins of his people, and he prayed for them. I think sometimes we are not sufficiently burdened with the sins of our nation. God will honour those who take upon themselves this burden of prayer. You know prayer is a wonderful thermometer. It reveals the strength, or weakness of our love for the Lord. Ho we long for the fellowship of those whom we love; we want to be with them! Prayer is fellowship with God. Our prayers are often so perfunctory – perhaps first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We should pray without ceasing, enjoying constant communion and fellowship with God, telling Him everything, singing His praises. Our love for the Lord is not as deep as it should be. We do not realise sufficiently the joy and privilege which is ours. God is our Heavenly Father and He longs to have fellowship with His children.
'Prayer is the greatest power in the world. We hear so much in these days about atomic energy. There is no power in the world like the power of prayer. And every soul that comes to God through Christ can enjoy that fellowship. So I just leave with you that thought about our prayer life as being a wonderful indication of our love for the Lord."