Seeking praying churches
Ever since my prayer partner, Dietra, and I began asking churches to join the “52 Weeks of Prayer for Transformation in the Nation’s Capital” initiative, I have been amazed by what happens when churches come together and pray. As one pastor excitedly told me earlier this year fresh from a week of non-stop prayer, “my church has not been the same…my deacon board is better, my ushers are better…”
At another church, husbands and wives prayed together for the first time; several people at other churches testified about hearing God speak to them in ways that they had not experienced before; prayer at still other churches became a priority. A change has taken place in several of the churches that committed to pray 24/7 for a week this year.
It’s been amazing to witness what has happen since Dietra and I responded to God’s call nearly eight month ago. Fourteen churches committed to praying without ceasing for a week in the first several months, with some of them taking on extra weeks when asked. Five churches now continue to pray 24-7 one day a week as we continue to solicit others to join us for the week-long prayers.
It’s also been humbling, disappointing at first I must admit, to learn that some churches are not ready to take on such a commitment. We knew that it wouldn’t be easy to get churches to commit to pray 24-7 for a week, but we didn’t think it would be this hard either. We are half way through the year and more churches are saying no than are saying yes. Getting people to commit to pray an hour out of their day for seven days is challenging, several pastors admitted.
Dietra and I, though, are pushing forward and trusting that God will direct us in fulfilling this work. We already have seen and heard what God is doing in the life of some of the churches who have prayed as part of 52 Weeks, and we know that our God is capable and ready to do more than we could ever imagine.
We were sitting in a session of the College of Prayer-Washington, D.C. in November when we heard the speaker, Cheryl Sacks, author of the book The Prayer Saturated Church, describe year-long 24/7 prayer movements that were taking place in Arizona, Texas and elsewhere. A Holy Spirit stirring simultaneously occurred in both of us. Deitra and I looked at each other and knew that we were being called to organize such a prayer movement in the Washington, D.C. region. (Neither of us had responded when we heard Sacks nearly three years ago mention the 24/7 prayer movement.)
After the session, we talked and prayed for God’s guidance. During several days of praying and searching Scripture, we wrote up a list of seven prayer concerns for churches to pray and began writing letters to area pastors. We started out seeking 52 churches that would organize at least 24 people to pray for one hour each day for a week. Our pastors and our churches –Dayspring Community Church and Fort Foote Baptist Church—were among the first to join. Others readily came on board.
“Can you imagine what would happen when churches come together on one accord and pray,” we asked in our letter to pastors. Great things occur when God’s people unite in prayer.
“We expect transformation of our churches into true houses of prayer,” we wrote. “We believe this transformation will result in strengthening of our pastors; building up the body of Christ; fortifying our families; reclaiming for Christ our communities; and stability and honesty for our government and its leaders. We also solicit the prayers that are on your heart for your church, your community and the world.”
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, the scripture that underpins this effort, the Word tells us that God will move on our behalf when we come to Him with hearts fully yielded.
“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.
We are still looking for churches that will join us in praying 24/7 for one week for transformation in the nation’s capital. Just take a look at the nightly news and you will see that the need for prayer is urgent. If our church is willing to pray, please let me know.