David Jeremiah, my longtime friend from Shadow Mountain Community Church near San Diego, has preached several times at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Immediately after being diagnosed with cancer, he called to ask us to pray. Several months later he returned to visit us during an outreach meeting we held at Madison Square Garden arena. Later he preached at one of our Sunday services. The whole congregation was delighted to see this wonderful Christian brother for whom we had all interceded.
Moved by the love and thanksgiving his appearance produced, David later remarked about it from our pulpit: “I called here as soon as I learned of my sickness because I knew of your emphasis on prayer. In fact, someone just greeted me in the lobby and remarked, ‘Pastor Jeremiah, we really cried out to God on your behalf.’ That is why I called you. I knew your praying wouldn’t be just some mechanical exercise but a real calling out to God with passion for my need. And God brought me through the ordeal.”
That is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word used countless times in the Old Testament when people called upon God. It means to cry out, to implore aid. This is the essence of true prayer that touches God.
Charles Spurgeon once remarked that “the best style of prayer is that which cannot be called anything but a cry.”
Isn’t that what God invites us to do all through the Bible? “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). God is not aloof and He is not disconnected. He says continually through the centuries, “I’ll help you, I really will. When you don’t know where to turn, then turn to Me. When you’re ready to throw up your hands—throw them up to Me. Put your voice behind them, too, and I’ll come and help you.”
Jim Cymbala began Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson and a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world.