Saturday, February 16, 2013

What I Will Miss (1): 24/7 Prayer

I was sobbing.

Even through I had set it up, I was unprepared for what I saw. A wall in our new prayer room had been dedicated as a place to pray for unsaved friends. A simple sign invited people to write the names of their friends on the wall so others could pray for them as well.

Non-stop prayer had been going on the room for several days before I took a turn late one night. As I rounded the corner of the candle-lit room I saw that the wall was now covered with hundreds of names. Tears began to stream down my cheeks as I thought of the intercessors who had stood there praying for their friends. I placed my hands on the wall and began to pray for Jesus to break through into the lives of these people.

Then I saw something that made my knees buckle. Someone had stood on a chair so they could write at the very top of the wall. Above the names they had written in bold letters, "These people are the reason Nashwauk Alliance Church exists." Finding myself on my knees, I discovered that on the wall under most of the names another prayer warrior had scrawled, "I have to go, Lord, but I'll be back. I am not done praying for these people you gave your life for. I'll be back to pray again and again and again."

Overcome by the presence of God, burdened for the unsaved, and the awed by privilege of being a part of such a church, I sobbed there on the floor until my hour in the prayer room was over.

Regular seasons 24/7 prayer have been the hidden foundation of what God has done at Nashwauk Alliance Church. The unseen labor of prayer warriors as they give themselves to prayer has drawn us closer to God and filled the church with a sense of His presence. We have seen people come into the Kingdom, people healed, financial breakthroughs, marriages renewed, and relationships mended. When I traveled overseas to Brazil and the Middle East it was incredibly comforting to know that the people at home had decided to cover my trips with non-stop prayer. It has been amazing to be a part of this radical group of praying people.

How it all Started

Our church had gone through the normal "we have a new pastor" burst of energy and settled into a comfortable routine. One morning while I was praying, a question that I couldn't shake kept coming into my mind: "What am I doing that requires any faith at all?" The more I thought of about it, the answer was "nothing". Unsure of what to do about it, I headed off to our annual area pastor's prayer retreat at Big Sandy Camp.

Scott Stinson was the prayer facilitator during the retreat. He kept quoting from the book Red Moon Rising by Peter Greig. The quotes stirred a hunger in me and I bought the book as soon as I got home. It turned out to be the story of a 24/7 prayer movement that was spreading across England. The concept was simple enough. Greig and his friends had set up a prayer room in their church and invited people to sign up for an hour to pray. The church had intended to pray for a week, but wound up praying non-stop for several  months before taking a break for Christmas.

As I prayed about it, I felt like this was the faith step that God wanted us to take. He wanted us to give it a try. Being a man of not-so-great faith, I approached the elders about doing 72 hours of prayer. I figured that if nothing else I would talk my wife into taking a couple of hours each day and I would take the rest! The elders agreed and we set up the prayer room. I was amazed to discover that people eagerly signed up. Several volunteered to take the late night hours. When we got to the end of the 72 hours, we kept on going for the full week. Since that time we have done regular seasons of 24/7 prayer. Sometimes we go a week. Occasionally we go for two. Once we went for forty days non-stop. These times of prayer have been the fuel that has fired the ministry here. I have been amazed at the creativity of people who set up the room. Our team of late-night intercessors have a commitment level that inspires me. This prayer room ministry will be one of the things I really miss as I head to France.

A Taste of Red Moon Rising

This poem was written by an anonymous prayer warrior in a prayer room in Reading, U.K. It will give you a sense of the book Red Moon Rising. It will also give you a feel for the burden carried by many of the intercessors who frequent our prayer room.


What am I Bid?

Suddenly I find myself in a giant hall. Surrounding me are thousands of young people,
battered, bruised and broken. Then suddenly I hear a voice.
"What am I Bid?"

A young girl stands out before the crowd of leering, sneering men.
"What am I bid for this piece of flesh?"

The men start to cheer and shout figures:
"Ten," "Twenty," "Fifty," "One hundred."

What can I do, God?

I start to bid. I have to save her.
The cost becomes huge, and I begin to waiver.
Can I afford this?
What price will I pay?

The dream stops.

I am alone again. But the faces are real enough:
Sarah being into prostitution;
Mike with a revolver in his mouth;
Kat covered in cuts and bruises;
John falling into crime;
Laura alone and desperate;
Steve, heroin needle bulging into his vein.

"What am I bid?"

The voice shatters the silence. The auction is on again.
The bidding has begun.
It continues day and night until the end.
Most of the bidders desire only to use and abuse.
Satan drives them on.

And so I find myself in the auction.
Will I watch or will I bid?
The price of a single life is huge.
The currency is prayer.
The cost is massive, but the prize is glorious.
 A life for a life.

What am I bid?

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