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Calling congregations to more fervent prayer

A large congregation recently devoted a Sunday night to praying for the violent crisis in Kenya.
Those praying pleaded with God to spare the lives of missionary families and Christians in that country. Heads bowed as hearts pleaded with God to intervene. Tears flowed as pictures of loved ones and fellow Christians flashed across the screen.
Congregations often go weeks or months with little sense of that kind of immense spiritual wealth waiting for them in congregational prayer.
Times of intense prayer like this one reawaken our faith in a caring God whose power can and does change the course of history. We pray dependently. We pray specifically. We pray fervently.
These focused times of prayer unlock our deepest understandings of God — as divine father, king and creator. God’s concern is unfathomable. No issue is outside God’s control. No force can press God to the wall. Our awesome God meets us in prayer.
Such special times of prayer magnify the great power of Christians gathering together to pray.
The awesome God we seek in the crisis knows about other ongoing issues of immense significance to huge numbers of people.
For instance, God’s unlimited concern and unmatched power may be sought on any Sunday or other time about any crisis such as:
• The 32,000 children who die daily from starvation and common childhood diseases.
• The hundreds of thousands of abused and abandoned children in the custody of state governments.
• The 150 million people worldwide who are refugees from their home countries.
• The thousands of teenagers who choose drugs over God, sexual promiscuity over devotion and violence over civility.
• The millions of children and adults in the United States who never attend church to learn about God.
The list is endless: the millions of inmates in the penal system, the victims of violent crime, the children who grow up in poverty, the millions of Third World people mired in poverty.
Make your own list.
Start with these questions:
• What would happen if a congregation regularly prayed as fervently about victims of injustice as that congregation prayed about the crisis in Africa?
• Could a church pray with believing hearts about the people within one mile of its building who have no relationship with God? One church checked the census numbers and found that 125,000 of the children who lived within 10 miles of its building did not attend any group’s worship.
If we believe God would stop a violent hurricane, do we think he could not also turn the hearts of thousands of children?   
Crisis religion often is associated with individuals: Deathbed confessions. Foxhole conversions. Emergency-room prayers.
Some threat or crisis often prompts spiritual interest in a person whose faith remains dormant in peaceful times.
Could it be that our worship sometimes takes a similar form? When a hurricane devastates a community, when young adults from the church are sent to Iraq or when some international crisis dominates the news, we cry out to a compassionate God to intervene.
Those who experienced that Sunday night prayer session were reminded of the immense potential of congregational prayer. Leaders prompted the church to pray for the crisis and to rely on God for healing.   
The same experience could be intensified and
extended among churches all over the world. Fervent prayer must not be restricted to a time of personal crisis. It should become a frequent part of congregational

  • Feedback
    Praying churches are stopping by Ephesians 6, picking up the armament and with enlightened eyes are getting involved and becoming leaders in compassionate services to our neighbors and so magnify the great power of God’s glory. Add to that list of crises the silent crisis of 1.3 million abortions annually. That means 2 million wounded people–men and women–worth praying for direction? Molech in our time?
    February, 14 2008

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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