As a young 22 year-old evangelist, Billy Graham was on a trip, when he heard Stephen Olford talk about being filled with the Spirit. The young evangelist approached the Welshman and humbly admitted that he longed for a deeper anointing of the Spirit in his life. Olford agreed to spend a couple days with Billy. They would meet and talk during the day, and Graham would preach at night. In a small stone hotel, Olford led Graham step-by-step through Biblical passages about the fullness of the Spirit. Something needed to happen. Billy knew it. The crowds were small and passive. His preaching was quite ordinary. Olford emphasized in the private daily meetings, the need for brokenness. He told him that his own life had to be completely turned inside-out, to receive an anointing of God’s quickening power. Graham’s eyes filled with tears. “That’s what I want. That’s what I need in my life!” he confessed. Both men knelt and went to prayer. They wept together. They laughed. Olford recalls, “I can still hear Billy pouring out his heart in a prayer of total dedication to the Lord.” Graham, Olford said, paced back and forth in the room. At one point he exclaimed that his heart “was flooded with the Holy Spirit.” That prayer meeting changed the ministry of Billy Graham. Those in the audience that night would say, “Something has happened to Billy Graham. The world is going to hear from this man.”[1]

You catch prayer! You and I are infected by the fever of intercession raging in the heart of another. We learn to pray by being in the middle of passionate prayer meetings. Get around an intercessor when they are experiencing the burden of the Lord. Listen to them groan in the Spirit. See their tears and their brokenness. Sense their agony in prayer. It is contagious. Their spirit permeates a prayer meeting, and others leave with prayer-fire in their heart. Jesus was first and foremost an intercessor. The disciples caught prayer from him.

We often see prayer as a solo experience. In the garden, Jesus sought solitude, and yet not absolute solitude. He took his disciples with him into the garden to pray, and then he removed himself for privacy. Here is tempered solitude. Here is privacy in prayer in the context of a fellowship of praying brothers.

Why is it rare for us to seek others with whom we might get away to pray? When is the last time you invited someone to join you in prayer at your favorite spot? For over 12 years, I led pastors’ prayer summits. Pastors from across a city from all denominations would gather in some location out of town for three to four days of prayer – not for teaching or training, but to pray. Sadly, most pastors found such invitations strange. Evidently, the disciples did not find the invitation of Jesus to join him in prayer a bizarre thing at all.

They all prayed in some proximity one to another and to Jesus. The disciples apparently finished praying before Jesus concluded his encounter with the Father. Their prayer sessions weren’t very enduring. Having grown silent, evidently, they found themselves listening to him pray. It must have become compellingly clear to them – they didn’t pray like he prayed. At this point, “One of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’” John had taught his disciples to pray, according to Luke. Not to preach, but to pray.

Pray with us this week for the Church of God General Assembly. There will be prayer training, an interactive prayer room, interviews with international missionaries, live stream prayer sessions and more. Pray that prayer will infect all these prayer initiatives, the general sessions, the council sessions, all the attendees and everyone that is involved with the assembly. Stay up-to-day: @COGHQ and @praycog

This blog is an excerpt from a re-release of a popular title, Intercession: The Uncomfortable, Strategic Middle.

P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

[1] The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham, 22-24.