Earlier this month, Christian Fellowship held a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of a new church facility on 37 acres that had been purchased a number of years ago. As someone who has been a part of our church for many years said to me, “This is really exciting! We’re really doing this!” It was a momentous time, and it is a turning point for our church.
I am absolutely excited about our future, but at the same time that I am excited about creating new building space, I am finding myself equally stirred to lead our church into a season of prayer. For reasons that I can’t fully explain, except to say I think it’s the Holy Spirit, I am being drawn to read books on prayer – these are books I read many years ago. I began to pull them off my shelf and to read one and then another. As I started reading, I asked myself, “does this book have anything to say to me today? Will it seem dated? Why am I reading this when I don’t particularly feel stirred to pray?” But that was the purpose. The Holy Spirit caused me to read these books to put a hunger in me to seek God through an extended season of prayer.
And I don’t believe this stirring is just for my sake. I believe the Lord means to stir the hearts of our people into a fresh desire to pray. He wants to take us right where we are – tired, or frustrated, or lacking any spiritual energy, or feeling disqualified, or overwhelmed in our jobs, over our kids, with life in general. He isn’t asking us to get into some kind of spiritual state to have us pray. God just wants to have us start praying together and regularly.
In one of the books on prayer, there is a brief excerpt on the condition of the church back in the late 1700’s. Much to my surprise it wasn’t what I expected. Here is what it said; “The Methodist, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Congregational churches were all languishing and loosing members. One Bishop quit being a bishop because he had no churches to oversee. One university recorded that there was not one believer in the whole student body. Another discovered there were only two. Students held mock communions, put on anti-Christian plays, and burned Bibles openly.” Thomas Paine said at that time, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.” It is hard to grasp that kind of malaise and even hostility, from an era that I had believed was highly Christian, but out of the ashes came the Second Great Awakening. Out of the pit, came a move of the Spirit of God. In the midst of the darkness, a great light shone. In this move, prayer became a focal point. Waiting and persevering prayer. Small bands of believers, some no more than four, began to meet and seek God. At first, nothing happened. At first, no one took note. Then a few more came, and then some more. What had been a long season of indifference had also been the starting fuel for the greatest revival period America has ever known.
I find myself reflecting on my teenage years. I was seeking something, but I did not know what. I did not think a prayer meeting would do anything; and yet, that is exactly what I was birthed into during the period known as the Charismatic Movement. It started in prayer groups. It started with people coming together in the middle of the week and on weekend evenings and just hanging out to pray. God moved by His Spirit. The most unlikely people were coming to Christ. No one had planned it. Everyone was just following God’s lead.
I cannot predict if we are heading into a movement of the Spirit today, but I can sense that we are being called to gather and pray. A few weeks ago, a lady in our church made a simple statement to me, “I can’t believe I get to be alive to see another move of God.” Frankly, I don’t know where that came from and I don’t think she knew either. But I have to say, Beloved it’s time for us to pray.