What transformed me in 1957 from an introverted, self-absorbed high school senior with no college plans into a college student with a passion for service, leading a half-dozen Youth for Christ high-school clubs? A combination of forces invaded my life, chief among them the authenticity and fire of prayer. The New Evangelicals were fueled by fervent prayer, and becoming part of YFC meant hours on one's knees with students and leaders in confession, intercession, and calling on God to do mighty works.

God's invitation to Jeremiah resonated in my soul: "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things." As a child, I had prayed earnestly, and as a teen had experienced some remarkable "coincidences," but YFC brought a community of intense prayer. For instance, during the invitation at Billy Graham's New York Crusade, I was praying for seekers with such obvious intensity that someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to go forward.

Billy, YFC's first full-time employee, had a rich history of fervent prayer, especially at his crossroads moments. The same with Harold Ockenga; his mother's prayers and his own wrestlings with God formed a lifetime of commitment to prayer. Near the end of Ockenga's life, we interviewed him for Christianity Today. We asked how he had simultaneously functioned as president of Fuller Seminary in California and as pastor of historic Park Street Church in Boston. His immediate answer was to reach for a stack of prayer cards he turned to each morning. He would pray about each concern and then leave it in God's hands.

In the early YFC, however brash or shallow some of its leaders may have been, they joined with hundreds of others asking for God's forgiveness, wisdom, ...

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