STRATEGY:CASE STUDY: PRAYER MEETING IN ATLANTA
For more case studies on prayer, see PRAYER
From: <Dkhuff@aol.com> Dale Huff ..you missed an awesome night of prayer last Saturday! We had 39 people show up to crowd into an apartment! The singing was strong and the prayer went well. We prayed for and sent out three singles for 2 year overseas commitments. (Albania and Morocco). The Lord is at work... I would love to make use of some [unreached people videos] at these prayer nights. Fill me in on available resources...
Prayer is the key to release God's power in raising up harvest workers and finances and in spiritual breakthrough on the field. What began almost six years ago has developed into a regular meeting of believers from several churches in the Atlanta area to worship the Lord together then intercede for specific prayer requests from around the world. We have gathered consistently for an evening of prayer to petition the Father on behalf of the our missionaries around the world. This paper is intended to help those who might want to start something similar in their area.
Format - The format of our meetings would be best known as a "concert of prayer" as described by David Bryant in Concerts of Prayer, but it has been modified to include an extended time of worship near the beginning to help us turn our focus from the "cares of the world" to the greatness of God. We generally meet on a Saturday evening in the home of one of the intercessors for about 2.5 hours and enjoy some light refreshments at the end. The intercession time is characterized by a mix of hearing requests (no more than 5 or 6), praying in small groups, and periodically a song to help refocus us on God. It soon becomes very natural to hear a little from the missionary then immediately go back to talking to the Father about the requests.
Location - We rotate the location both to relieve the volunteer hosts from excessive burden and to allow more people to have opportunity for involvement. Depending on who hosts the evening, more people from a certain fellowship might feel comfortable attending because they already know them. Also we try to keep the locations generally centrally located to decrease the commute time.
Content - Two keys have made the time really come alive: personal interaction with the Father and personal interaction with the missionaries. First is the time of worship as we focus our heart on the only one who is worthy. Worship is the highest priority. We use singing, reading the Scripture, prayer and confession to help prepare our hearts to be useful in intercession. We always include a pause of self-examination to repent of those things not pleasing to Him so that we can be "a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful to the Master" (II Tim 2:21). Following that we pray again and thank Him for His mercy. (Many people have commented on how much they miss this extended - we usually take 45 minutes! - time of worship and just lingering in God's presence or "sitting at Jesus' feet" as Mary did. This is vital to bringing everything else into perspective. When we see how BIG God is, the problems we pray about seem small.)
The second key is personal interaction with the missionaries. We try to have personal appearances by missionaries when at all possible. This really helps the prayers to hear, see, and ask questions. It can lead to later relationships but no formal "solicitations" for support are allowed. We use video tapes, maps, Operation World, prayer letters, news briefs, email, even speaker phone interviews...whatever to help bring understanding to the prayers. Making it personal really brings it home. Typically we will pray for the field (the country), the particular ministry needs, and then the personal needs of each missionary.
Information - The meetings happen about once a month. We send out notification by email, regular "snail" mail, and by telephone blitz on the week of the meeting. The missions department of one church has graciously provided the administrative help to send out the letter and a map. This also gives us a chance to send out thought provoking articles on prayer. (See CS Lewis article "If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?"). This is just a quick summary to start discussion but we have seen vision grow and understanding of the task deepen as we pray. When we pray, we pray on the basis of God's glory before the nations. (See Ezek 36:21-23; Numbers 14:20-21) It is for His Glory that we intercede.