Pray as a Church in August [Summer of Prayer]

As we continue our Summer of Prayer at Eastbrook Church into August our theme is praying as a church. Certainly we pray as a church in our weekly worship gatherings and at other times, but specifically this month we are calling the church family into a time of intercession for our city together. At 9 AM on Saturday, August 18, we are gathering around the city to simply walk around neighborhoods in which we, or others within the church, live to ask God to renew our city by His loving and mighty hand.

To facilitate this, we are asking people to sign up to pray in one of 15 regions we have outlined in the city according to a map here. There are prayer captains for each of these regions who will help facilitate the prayer walk, communicate with you ahead of time and follow-up afterwards.

The Prayer Meeting that Lasted 100 Years

I came across this article while working on some message preparation and background study on prayer. Thanks to the author, Leslie K. Tarr, for writing this powerful illustration of the link between prayer and mission.

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FACT: The Moravian Community of Herrnhut in Saxony, in 1727, commenced a round-the-clock “prayer watch” that continued nonstop for over a hundred years.

FACT: By 1791, 65 years after commencement of that prayer vigil, the small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth.

Could it be that there is some relationship between those two facts? Is fervent intercession a basic component in world evangelization? The answer to both questions is surely an unqualified “yes.”

That heroic eighteenth-century evangelization thrust of the Moravians has not received the attention it deserves. But even less heralded than their missionary exploits is that hundred-year prayer meeting that sustained the fires of evangelism.

During its first five years of existence the Herrnhut settlement showed few signs of spiritual power. By the beginning of 1727 the community of about three hundred people was wracked by dissension and bickering. An unlikely site for revival!

Zinzendorf and others, however, covenanted to prayer and labor for revival. On May 12 revival came. Christians were aglow with new life and power, dissension vanished and unbelievers were converted.

Looking back to that day and the four glorious months that followed, Zinzendorf later recalled: “The whole place represented truly a visible habitation of God among men.”

A spirit of prayer was immediately evident in the fellowship and continued throughout that “golden summer of 1727,” as the Moravians came to designate the period. On August 27 of that year twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer.

Some others enlisted in the “hourly intercession.”

“For over a hundred years the members of the Moravian Church all shared in the ‘hourly intercession.’ At home and abroad, on land and sea, this prayer watch ascended unceasingly to the Lord,” stated historian A. J. Lewis.

The Memorial Days of the Renewed Church of the Brethren, published in 1822, ninety-five years after the decision to initiate the prayer watch, quaintly describes the move in one sentence: “The thought struck some brethren and sisters that it might be well to set apart certain hours for the purpose of prayer, at which seasons all might be reminded of its excellency and be induced by the promises annexed to fervent, persevering prayer to pour out their hearts before the Lord.”

The journal further cites Old Testament typology as warrant for the prayer watch: “The sacred fire was never permitted to go out on the altar (Leviticus 6:13); so in a congregation is a temple of the living God, wherein he has his altar and fire, the intercession of his saints should incessantly rise up to him.”

That prayer watch was instituted by a community of believers whose average age was probably about thirty. Zinzendorf himself was twenty-seven.

The prayer vigil by Zinzendorf and the Moravian community sensitized them to attempt the unheard-of mission to reach others for Christ. Six months after the beginning of the prayer watch the count suggested to his fellow Moravians the challenge of a bold evangelism aimed at the West Indies, Greenland, Turkey and Lapland. Some were skeptical, but Zinzendorf persisted. Twenty-six Moravians stepped forward the next day to volunteer for world missions wherever the Lord led.

The exploits that followed are surely to be numbered among the high moments of Christian history. Nothing daunted Zinzendorf or his fellow heralds of Jesus Christ—prison, shipwreck, persecution, ridicule, plague, abject poverty, threats of death. Church historians look to the eighteenth century and marvel at the Great Awakening in England and America, which swept hundreds of thousands into God’s Kingdom. John Wesley figured largely in that mighty movement and much attention has centered on him. It is not possible that we have overlooked the place, which that round-the clock prayer watch had in reaching Wesley and, through him and his associates, in altering the course of history?

One wonders what would flow from a commitment on the part of twentieth century Christians to institute a “prayer watch” for world evangelization, specifically to reach those, in Zinzendorf’s words, “for whom no one cared.”

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Praying Deeper with 24-7 Prayer

Last week at Eastbrook Church, we hosted a 24-7 Prayer Room on our campus. This is not an original idea to us, but something many of us have experienced in other settings, such as the 24-7 Prayer Movement or the International House of Prayer.  When I was the Pastor of Collegiate Ministries with Elmbrook Church, running The Ave, a multi-campus ministry to college students in urban Milwaukee, one of our interns, Samantha, spurred us to do something similar downtown in the Big Red Church.  It was a really stretching experience for the students and for me.

As we entered into the summer of prayer here at Eastbrook this year, I wanted to do something like this with our church. Similarly to what we did with college ministry, the team working with our 24-7 Prayer room structured it around the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) as a means to organizing the room into stations at which people could pray individually or together. Each of the stations had active and reflective elements to it, allowing people of all ages to engaged physically in responding to God in some way.

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The theme for July in the summer of prayer was “Praying with Others.” While I often saw clusters of people and small groups praying together in the prayer room, the prayer room could also be utilized as an individual experience of prayer. As the week continued, however, the sense of being in this with others became more and more clear as people added their own words of praise, confession, gratitude, and need to the interactive elements. I couldn’t help but think of the words in Hebrews 12:1-2:

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus

You can see both the guiding statements for each of the four stations, as well as the interactive elements below.

24-7 Prayer at Eastbrook

Summer-of-Prayer-Ads_App-Wide-2.pngThis Sunday, July 15, at 6 AM we begin a week of 24-7 Prayer here at Eastbrook. This is part of our Summer of Prayer in July where we are focusing on learning how to pray together with others. Holy Grounds Coffeehouse will be open for prayer with others during this entire week for prayer.

Participants can participate with interactive prayer stations (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) that will encourage personal prayer, as well as create space for groups (families, life groups, etc.) to pray together. Plan to spend about an hour in the various stations.

Holy Trinity Brompton shares this in their booklet History Belongs to the Intercessors:

Some of the most remarkable moments in church history have been marked by 24-7 prayer:

  • When the Holy Spirit visited a 24-7 Prayer Room in an upper room in Jerusalem, the church was born!
  • Monastic communities have practiced the laus perennis – perpetual prayer, for centuries
  • During the eighteenth century, Moravians in the German village of Herrnhut prayed continually for more than 100 years. From that remarkable prayer meeting they sent out missionaries all over the world, even converting John Wesley
  • The Pentecostal movement began in 1906 when the Holy Spirit was poured out on a multiracial 24-7 Prayer Room in Azusa Street, Los Angeles

If you want to dig more deeply into how to pray, you may enjoy accessing the resources pulled together from the 24-7 Prayer movement, including the Prayer Course.

 

Prayer Course and prayer resources

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 10.03.07 AM.pngAs we prepare for a week of 24/7 Prayer at Eastbrook Church (July 15-21) as part of our summer of prayer, I want to encourage you to explore the great resources available at the 24-7 Prayer movement’s web-site.

Specifically, I’d like to encourage you to access the online Prayer Course they have put together.  Journey through the Lord’s Prayer with six short videos and a handy ‘cheat sheet’ for each session, all designed to fuel discussion and deepen your prayer life and the prayer life of the church. The sessions are:

  • Adoration (“Our Father in heaven”)
  • Petition (“Give us this day”)
  • Intercession (“Your kingdom come”)
  • Perseverance (“Your will be done”)
  • Listening (“Our daily bread”)
  • Warfare (“Deliver us from evil”)

Pray with Others in July [Summer of Prayer]

This July at Eastbrook Church we continue our summer of prayer with an invitation to pray with others. While we can pray with others in our Life Groups, neighborhoods, families, apartment complexes, or schools, I want to specifically invite you to join us in a week of 24/7 prayer in July. During the week of July 15-21 we are transforming the Holy Grounds coffeehouse into a 24/7 prayer room. More information to come soon, but please mark your calendars for this important opportunity to reach out to God in prayer with others during that week.

Resources for Prayer

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 10.20.07 AM.pngWhen I was Pastor of Collegiate Ministries at Elmbrook Church, our ministry, The Ave, hosted a 24/7 week of prayer in partnership with other college ministries around the city of Milwaukee. We drew a lot of our ideas from a group based in the UK, known as 24-7 Prayer, founded by Pete Greig. They have an excellent resource page that a friend, Caitlin Ewing, shared with me and my wife, Kelly, just this past weekend (thanks, Caitlin!).

Weave prayer into the daily rhythm of your life. Whether you find prayer hard, boring or if you’re simply looking for new ideas –  this section will help you pray, every day:

SIMPLE PRAYER IDEAS – Get started with these 6 ways to pray

TAKE TIME – Go deeper in your prayer life and spend a little longer in God’s presence.

PRAYING THE LORD’S PRAYER, DAILY   Start a new rhythm of prayer using the Lord’s prayer

ANCIENT PRAYERS – Different prayer ideas from centuries past

PRAYING THE BIBLE – Simple ideas to help you pray using the Bible

BIBLE STUDIES ON PRAYER – Find out what Jesus and the early Church taught about prayer

FASTING – Find our how fasting can encourage powerful prayer

HOW TO PRAY USING A JOURNAL – How writing your prayers can help you to develop a rhythm of prayer

LEARN TO LISTEN – Helpful tips on listening to God

WHAT’S YOUR PRAYER PERSONALITY? – How each of us can use our different personalities to pray

PRAY FOR THE WORLD – How to engage with the world around you

BLESSING MUSLIMS IN PRAYER  – be equipped to pray and bless Muslims with resources from our friends at Mahabba and Frontiers.