Prayer has been a fundamental component of the Christian life and worship since the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Believers give thanks for their daily meals, confess their sins and ask for forgiveness, intercede for their spouses and children, pray for the healing of the sick, ask God to protect missionaries, pray for the needs of the world, and request the intervention of God’s Spirit for the lost.
Recently, a renewed interest in prayer has served as a major catalyst in the ecumenical movement. Promise Keepers, for example, has called brothers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to kneel together in prayer. Prayer conferences are breaking national barriers and taking on an increasingly international flavor. The kingdom is coming together in prayer.
Some of the new emphasis on prayer can be attributed to the coming millennium. Many prayer initiatives have designated 2000 as a goal year to fulfill the great commission—where every person on earth will have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result, most of the prayer initiatives listed below have an evangelistic focus. After centuries of evangelism and missions, Christians now realize that prayer—and only prayer—will make it happen.
At the same time, local churches have become more conscientious about prayer—both individual and corporate prayer. Some churches have added staff to focus on prayer. (The Church of Joy in Phoenix, Arizona, has seven full-time pastors working in their prayer ministry.) Denominations are also hiring people to mobilize prayer. The Denominational Prayer Leaders Network currently includes prayer leaders from over thirty denominations. Servant ministries (formerly known as parachurch organizations) focusing on prayer have multiplied. Local churches are becoming more proactive in encouraging their members to become involved in prayer evangelism. New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for example, has constructed a large World Prayer Center on their campus, and also has a prayer mountain retreat center.
Likewise books on prayer and prayer ministries have multiplied. Christian bookstores have shelves of books on prayer (there are currently over 2,500 titles in print focusing on prayer).
The following lists of prayer initiatives, servant prayer ministries, and prayer resources are designed to encourage you to develop your personal prayer life as well as developing and encouraging the prayer ministries of your local church.
Called By My Name: September 21-October 31, 1999
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is calling their member churches to forty days of prayer and fasting in preparation for the new millennium. A personal prayer journal, sermon suggestions, and drama materials are available from Wesley Press, P.O. Box 50434, Indianapolis, IN 46250 (fax: 317-570-5395). National Office: 450 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188 (1-630-665-0500; e-mail: NAE@nae.net; www.nae.net).
Fasting and Prayer Gathering ‘99: November 11-13, 1999
This international prayer conference is sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ. Christian leaders offer short reflections followed by a call to pray. In 1998, while a thousand people came together for prayer in Houston, hundreds of thousands participated over international satellite hookups (1-800-888-FAST; www.fastingprayer.com).
March for Jesus: June 10, 2000
This major worldwide initiative calls people to come together, walk the streets of their community, and sing praises to Jesus on June 10, 2000. P.O. Box 3216, Austin, TX 78764 (1-512-416-0066; fax:1-512-445-5393; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.mfg.org).
National Broadcast Concert of Prayer: First Thursday in May
On each National Day of Prayer, a three-hour (8-11 p.m. EST) national prayer service is held in one U.S. city and telecast worldwide over cable (Sky Angel) and the Internet (1-612-853-8461; www.concertofprayer.org).
National Day of Prayer: First Thursday in May
Shirley Dobson has made this one of the best-known prayer initiatives. Materials include worship helps, posters, bumper stickers, etc.) to assist churches and communities in holding special prayer services. P.O. Box 15616, Colorado Springs, CO 80935-5616 (1-719-531-3379; fax: 1-719-548-4520).
Prayer for Persecuted Church: November 14, 1999
This prayer initiative has developed in response to the thousands of Christians who are being intensely persecuted and martyred for their faith (1-847-718-0560; www.persecutedchurch.org).
Pray USA: The Forty Days of Lent
Although the focus of the prayers is the United States, this is a worldwide prayer initiative. The primary prayer guide (also available in different languages and for different age groups) has been included in Pray! magazine (1-888-PrayUSA; www.prayusa.com).
See You at the Pole: Wednesday, September 15, 1999
Since prayer was outlawed in U.S. public schools, students have gathered annually for a prayer service around the flagpole (1-619-592-9200; www.syatp.com).
SERVANT (PARACHURCH) PRAYER MINISTRIES
Canadian Prayer Alert
This initiative seeks to mobilize Canadians to pray for revival and spiritual awakening by organizing a network of prayer groups. P.O. Box 300, Vancouver, BC V6C 2X3 (1-604-514-2112; fax: 1-604-514-2002; e-mail: email@example.com; www.crusade.org).
Canadian United Prayer Track
The Canadian United Prayer Track publishes a quarterly prayer newsletter (Global Prayer Advance) to help mobilize churches and believers to pray for the lost throughout the world. 2146 Robinson St., Regina, SK S4T 2P7 (1-306-569-8999; fax: 1-306-569-1536; www.efc-canada.com/taskforc/visi.htm).
Concerts of Prayer International
Concerts of Prayer International encourages city-wide interdenominational prayer gatherings. David Byrant explains this prayer approach in his book Concerts of Prayer. P.O. Box 770, New Providence, NJ 07974 (908-771-0146; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.crusade.org).
Every Home for Christ
This prayer ministry works with over a hundred denominations in 120 countries to help mobilize and train pray-ers in local churches to pray for and share the gospel with every home in the world. P.O. Box 35930, Colorado Springs, CO 80935-3593 (1-719-260-8888; 1-800-423-5054; fax: 1-719-260-7505; e-mail: email@example.com).
Global Harvest Ministry: AD2000/United Prayer Track
This ministry hopes to mobilize intercessors, local churches and denominations, and prayer networks to pray for the evangelization of all the people groups in the world by the year 2000. The primary focus is on the 10/40 window. P.O. Box 63060, Colorado Springs, CO, 80962-3060 (1-719-262-9922; fax: 1-719-262-9920; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Houses of Prayer Everywhere (HOPE)
This prayer ministry helps churches develop houses of prayer around their church. Outlined in Make Your Home a Power House (use numbers below to order), this ministry encourages believers to pray five blessings for five minutes, five days a week for five neighbors. P.O. Box 141312, Grand Rapids, MI 49514 (1-616-453-9311; 1-800-217-5200; fax: 1-616-791-9926; e-mail: email@example.com; www.hopeministries.org).
Intercessors for Canada
Intercessors for Canada assists the local church by encouraging prayer and fasting for government and church leaders. P.O. Box 125, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6S8 (1-905-357-5143; fax: 1-905-357-3314; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Intercessors for America
Intercessors for America assists the local church by encouraging prayer and fasting for government and church leaders. 17 Royal St. SW., P.O. Box 4477, Leesburg, VA 20177 (1-703-777-0003; 1-800-872-7729; fax: 1-703-777-2324; e-mail: email@example.com; www.ifa-usapray.org).
International Renewal Ministries
Although best known for sponsoring Pastor’s Prayer Summits throughout North America and in many countries throughout the world, IRM’s broader mandate is to bring renewal to individuals, families, and ministries that results in worldwide evangelization. 8435 N.E. Glison St., Portland, OR 97220 (1-503-251-6455; fax: 1-503-254-1268; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.multomah.edu).
Mission America, organized following Lausanne II, is a prayer evangelism ministry. Their major promotion is known as Celebrate Jesus 2000 and focuses on a four-year sequence of prayer, personal witness, proclamation, and preservation. 5666 Lincoln Dr., Suite 100, Edina, MN 55436 (1-612-912-0001; fax: 1-612-912-0002; e-mail: email@example.com; www.missionamerica.org).
Moms in Touch International
Moms in Touch encourages mothers to meet together regularly to pray for their children, their teachers, their administrators, and the schools they attend. P.O. Box 1120, Poway, CA 92074-1120 (1-619-486-4065; fax: 1-619-486-5132; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Waymakers focus their ministry on prayer-walking and neighborhood houses of prayer to promote evangelism in local communities. P.O. Box 203131, Austin, TX 78720-3131 (1-512-419-7729; fax: 1-512-219-1999; www.waymakers.org).
RESOURCES FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH
Face to Face with God in Your Church: Establishing a Prayer Ministry. Bjorn Pedersen (Augsburg Press, 426 S. Fifth Street, Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440; 1995; $19.95). This is an excellent overview of the fundamentals of building a prayer ministry in the local church. The extensive appendixes offer many practical applications.
Keys to a Praying Church and How to Coordinate Your Prayer Ministry. Al Vander Griend (Healthy Church Series, CRC Publications, 2850 Kalamazoo SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560; $1.50 each). Both of these pamphlets are great primers. Keys to a Praying Church discusses integrating prayer into the ministry of the local church. How to Coordinate Your Prayer Ministry explains why your church needs a prayer ministry and how to get one started.
Partners in Prayer: Support and Strengthen Your Pastor and Church Leaders. John Maxwell (Equip, P.O. Box 19900, San Diego, CA 92109-4434; 1-888-993-7847; $10.00 for two books and an accompanying video).
Pray! Magazine. Jonathon Graf, editor (P.O. Box 35004, Colorado Springs, CO 80935; 1-719-531-3548; fax: 1-719-598-7128; $15.95; e-mail: email@example.com). Pray! is a great new magazine featuring articles by prayer leaders around the world. Each issue features a main theme. Includes news and reviews.
Prayer Bulletin. Don McCrory, editor (CRC Publications, 2850 Kalamazoo SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560; 1-800-333-8300). This quarterly bulletin insert is a prayer encourager for members of your congregation. Includes stories about answered prayer, ideas for prayer ministries, brief teaching articles on prayer, and helpful prayer resources. Issues are available in bulk by subscription.
PrayerNet Weekly E-mail Newsletter. (e-mail: 104224.3107@Compuserve.com). This free service provides a weekly prayer bulletin.
The Prayer Paper. Doug Kamstra, editor (CRC Home Missions, 2850 Kalamazoo SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560). This quarterly publication is designed to assist prayer leaders in the local church. Focuses on prayer resources, educational opportunities, and denominational, national, and international initiatives. Each issue also includes a prayer resource.
Praying Church Sourcebook. Al Vander Griend (CRC Publications, 2850 Kalamazoo SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560; $24.95) Simply the best book out on the market if you are developing or enhancing your church’s prayer ministry. The author offers thirty-three strategies, including prayer rooms, solemn assemblies, prayer walking, prayer cells, prayer chains, concerts of prayer, and pastor prayer support groups. Over fifty stories of praying Christians are also included.
Your Pastor: Preyed on or Prayed For. Dr. Terry Teykl (Prayer Point Press, 2100 N. Carrolton Dr., Muncie, Indiana 47304; 1-675-759-0215; $11.00). John Maxwell has made a public commitment to get one million believers to pray daily for their pastors. Maxwell and Terry Teykl have each written books to offer suggestions for how to organize this support system in your church.
RESOURCES FOR PERSONAL PRAYER
A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants and A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People. Reuben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck (The Upper Room Books, Nashville, TN; $19.95). These two volumes are designed to enhance your personal time with the Lord. Each volume contains outlines of fifty-six weekly spiritual themes correlated to the church year. There are also twelve monthly full-day prayer retreats in each volume. Each weekly theme includes Scripture readings, three to four pages of readings from early church fathers and contemporary writers, a hymn, and a prayer focus. The monthly prayer retreat contains a pattern for prayer that includes Scripture, additional readings, prayer, journaling, and reflection. These volumes are designed for believers looking for a rigorous daily discipline. These volumes are “for every pilgrim who yearns for God.”
Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be With God. Bill Hybels (InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515). If you read just one book about prayer, this should be the one. While the premise of the book is to make time for praying, Hybels addresses most of the basic questions we all ask about prayer.
PSALM 27 B (VV. 7-14)
Lord, listen to me when I talk to You.
I need an answer from You,
and I need it now.
You invited me.
You said, “Come, worship Me.”
I answered, “I will come, Lord.”
So don’t back out now.
Don’t be mad at me,
even though You have good reasons.
My parents are angry at me.
They feel like giving up on me.
But, please, Lord, don’t You give up.
Let me know what You want me to do, Lord.
Make it real clear.
I admit I haven’t done what You have told me to do,
and I’ve done things You told me not to do.
But don’t give up on me.
I know I can do better
with Your help.
I trust You.
And I trust You to trust me.
— Eldon Weisheit, Psalms for Teens (Concordia, 1992). Used by permission.
More information is available by contacting the organizations listed above and/or contacting the Office of Prayer Mobilization, Christian Reformed Home Missions, 2850 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560; firstname.lastname@example.org