Prayer Targets: In Memoriam - Rev. Dick Simmons
January 6, 2021
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence -- as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil -- to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! (Is 64:1-2)
Happy New Year Dear Praying Friends!
The Scripture above, Isaiah 64:1-2, was a hallmark in the prayer life of Presbyterian minister, Rev. Richard J. (Dick) Simmons, in his prayers for God's people, for our own nation, and the nations as onslaughts of evil have multiplied in recent decades. Dick founded and directed Men for Nations, a prayer, teaching, and discipleship ministry for men. While Dick was not well-known to the public, he was dear to leaders of the intercessory prayer movement across America and abroad -- including both men and women. Dick loved and ministered to women's prayer groups but was decidedly dedicated to men's ministry, knowing that, like in other areas where male leadership has flagged badly, it has flagged even more in the essential ministry of prayer. Dick was above all things a man dedicated to God. David Wilkerson said on many occasions that Dick was the holiest man he knew. He routinely spent eight or more hours in prayer each day. A humble, quiet man, he gave himself to subdued Bible study and quiet conversational prayer, but often broke out into vibrant, fiery, heartfelt cries to God often based upon the cries of the Old Testament prophets, and those of King David in the Psalms -- cries for righteousness and justice and mercy. The Bible calls us to shout, weep, and otherwise express our hearts to God with feeling, as the many recorded prayers in Scripture demonstrate. Like the Apostle Paul, Dick prayed much in the Spirit.
Dick prayed for the lost multitudes of men, women, boys, and girls. He prayed over matters of church and state, often attending Senate and House hearings, debates, and votes to pray. He stood in the gap for a sinful nation and for those who have led America toward a departure from God and his moral law. And he has prayed regularly for both prominent and little-known godly leaders in the church and public square.
He prayed with an authority born out of absolute surrender to Christ. In over 66 years of ministry, a dyslexic Dick faced serious challenges along the way, but he and his saintly wife, Barbara, maintained focus throughout their rugged lives. Enduring sometimes long seasons of separation when Dick travelled to minister, they lived day by day, living by faith and trusting in God's supernatural provision. They understood struggle, but never complained. They were not moved by circumstances but remained focused and faithful to their primary calling to pray.
God spoke to Dick years ago, saying that if a half million men would rise in the morning and give God two hours in prayer for the nation, they could bring an end to abortion in America. Dick's heart was fixed to see men become the prayer warriors God meant them to be. But he and Barbara faced great trials along the way. Both of their boys had special needs from childhood and died as young men. Dick lost Barbara to Alzheimer's disease in 2013, after several years of Dick nursing her through the disease's horrible progression. Barbara, too, was much beloved by the multi-denominational praying community in Washington, D.C., and all to whom they ministered.
Dick's two adult daughters and granddaughters are eager to see the ministry of Men for Nations continue. But it is hard to visualize a man called and prepared to fill his shoes and carry on his legacy. Dick's friends are leaders in the National Prayer movement and government leaders he has prayed for in our nation's capital. But while Dick rubbed shoulders with leaders in church and government, his door was always open to anyone, those in-between work, strangers, sometime indigents, sometimes putting himself at risk. Pastors and leaders from all over the world sought Dick out. He put a spiritual deposit of motivation to pray in everyone he had even a little time with; and if he had more time, he would have converted everyone into prayer warriors. He required overnight guests to rise with him before 5 a.m. to pray for two or more hours. Many did and are now significant leaders in the Body of Christ who continue to make prayer a priority in their lives and the lives of those they disciple. While Dick never developed an organized army of praying men, he launched an army of independent Christian men whose prayer lives have influenced an immeasurable number of people. Thousands, perhaps millions will thank Dick in heaven for his prayers, and the prayers of men and women he influenced over lifetime.
On December 8, 2020, Rev. Dick Simmons died, following his wife and two boys who had gone to heaven before him. Born on February 24, 1932, he was 88 years old. In late November, FRC President Tony Perkins and Ambassador Sam Brownback had urged friends of Dick to get together with him while he still had strength, and despite harsh COVID warnings and restrictions on the maximum number of men we could have at Dick's home, another 40 joined us by Zoom. Tony, Sam, and Dick Eastman (Every Home for Christ and the American Center for Prayer and Revival) opened the gathering by testifying to what Dick had meant to them and the cause of Christ. Then about 60 others, a third in-person and the remainder on Zoom, expressed their love and shared amazing anecdotes from their experience with Dick that most had never heard, but that only amplified their wonder and esteem for this quiet and hidden man, who was nevertheless larger than life, influential, and mightily used of God. Dick inspired men to greater faithfulness to God and their callings by his biblical exposition, but far more by his life and example. It was that that moved men to drop everything and fly to Washington on short notice to say a few words to Dick on December 3. It proved to be the last opportunity they would have to communicate with Dick face to face while he was alive and alert and able to interact with each of us and hear our expressions of heartfelt love for his and Barbara's lives and ministry to us, and through us, to others. Dick passed five days later.
Dick's family members are organizing a memorial service for Dick in Bellingham, Washington, some time in February. A memorial service will also be held in Washington, D.C. on January 28, 2021 at 2 p.m. ET at David's Tent (7th St. & Madison Dr. near the National Gallery of Art), the day before the annual March for Life. The cause of life and the Church's role as salt and light to society was high on Dick's prayer agenda even before 1973. The American Center for Prayer & Revival (ACPR), located in the townhouse that has been the headquarters for Men for Nations for nearly three decades, plans to keep Dick's legacy alive through their own ministry (part of Every Home for Christ) until the Lord returns.
From a tribute to Dick's life read to him on December3from Thessalonians 1:2-3:
The great Methodist pastor, preacher, and apostle of prayer, Rev. E.M. Bounds, wrote:
Where are the apostolic leaders who can put God's people to praying? Let them come to the front and do the work, and it will be the greatest work which can be done. An increase of educational facilities and a great increase of money force will be the direst curse to religion if they are not sanctified by more and better praying than we are doing. More praying will not come as a matter of course... Nothing but a specific effort from a praying leadership will avail. The chief ones must lead in the apostolic effort to praying pews... Who will restore this breach? The greatest will he be of reformers and apostles, who can set the Church to praying. (Bounds, Power of Prayer)
Dick, you have been an apostle of prayer to our generation -- among all the many other things you have done in obedience to the Lord (like your discipleship program and ministry to imprisoned men and women to help them get established upon their release, a ministry that brought you to Washington, D.C. as part of Ronald Reagan's transition team; your ministry to members of the United States Congress; your leadership in praying in the Spirit and reminding us all of the critical role of the Holy Spirit in our prayers and ministries). Space does not allow for elaboration of your roles with David Wilkerson and Pat Robertson, Teen Challenge, your Boot Camps, your role in the early days of Aglow and continued partnership, the impact that you have made on innumerable young and old men who have come and stayed, spending hours and days in prayer with you, your 40-day fasts... It will take a book to tell the story!
But as impactful as anything you have done was the years of personal care and devotion you gave to your life-partner, Barbara, after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Your love, affection, and esteem for your powerful praying wife, and mother of your four children, shone like a bright star to all who knew you during that period.
We praise God for your yielded life and willingness to minister with great patience and careful instruction what God so carefully and powerfully gave to you. Dick, there is so much to say, but this small representative group of your many indebted friends across the world are here today just to say we love you and we thank you for what you have meant to us and to all those we touch in our own families and ministries, and to the larger number that only God can count. Thank you!
Finally, Dick was a premier advocate and intercessor for FRC and our life, faith, family, and freedom in public policy mission. He made an impact on Tony Perkins decades ago when he was pastoring in Louisiana, before he served as a member of Louisiana's House of Representatives. Tony's church supported one of Dick's Prayer Boot Camps and Tony led the men to take part in a 21-day, 2-hour-daily prayer vigil. Men who went through Dick's Boot Camps and followed through with their 21-day homework, may not all have followed through with two hours of early morning daily prayer, but their prayer lives change forever for the better. For 12 years, Dick gave mini-boot camps to pastors who attended our annual Watchmen on the Wall Pastors Briefing. We will miss him dearly. May God now expand all our prayer lives and raise up new leaders, fathers in the faith who are serious men of prayer, to fill the gap left by the loss of this great man of faith. I close with a favorite verse of Dick's:
"Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing" (1 Timothy 2:8).
Finally, 1) Tony Perkins led PRAY, VOTE, STAND last night, with key national leaders joining him to pray over the election process that began today. As it appears at this time, it may go on a few days; 2) Read this week's Washington Updates to get FRC's view on the issues, so that you can pray.
Thank you for praying during this critical time and throughout the New Year!