Missionaries Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth arrived in China in March 1888. Their assignment to open a new field in the northern section of Honan province was a daunting one. The young couple struggled to learn the language, adjust to the climate and raise a large family in less than desirable surroundings. They met many discouraging challenges, including the death of a child. One day a letter arrived from Hudson Taylor, then a pioneer with China Inland Missions. He wrote:
We understand North Honan is to be your field; we, as a
mission, have tried for ten years to enter that province from the south, and have only just succeeded. It is one of the most anti-foreign provinces in China . . . Brother, if you would enter that province, you must go forward on your knees.
The Goforths took Taylor’s advice. Prayer became their strongest tool. With persistence and prayer, they mastered the language. People began responding to their message of a loving Christ. A female convert filled the Goforth’s need of an assistant Bible teacher for women.
Years later, Rosalind Goforth wrote a little book that has become one of my favourites, How I Know God Answers Prayer. She wrote of miracles of revival, guidance, healing and comfort. Through the Boxer Rebellion and many other life threatening events, the Goforths proceeded on their knees.
Prayer packs a punch. It sends tremors down the enemy’s spine. It puts courage in the weak-kneed and takes the whine and worry out of life. It resurrects the fallen and revives the discouraged. Only God can open closed doors. Only He can give us courage to face impossible situations.
His ear is always tilted toward earth, ready to hear our petitions. God clears our paths of obstacles in unexpected ways as we press forward on our knees.
Go forward on your knees is good advice, not just for missionaries on foreign fields but for ordinary Jesus people like you and me.