There is no doubt in my mind that prayer and faith in God changes things. There is a post on my blog entitled Prayer for Today in which I write about the necessity of prayer in today’s world. It is unusual for churches to come together on a routine basis to seek the face of God, but in our case, that’s exactly what the Lord has put in our spirits to do. We knew from the outset this would be a great challenge, and many obstacles would appear in order for prayer to be hindered.
Each night has been different, but all filled with anticipation. We began this journey as a cry to God for answers. Our church has been facing some tough times lately, and we know God is aware of our situation. We are fully aware many churches are facing challenging times and going through difficult changes. There is no doubt God is our only hope.
Let me make one thing very clear. This journey is strictly voluntary; I have not put out an edict forcing our people to lay aside their lives for the sake of the church. No, this journey began as an offer for God’s people to gather in the name of the Lord, to seek His face at the urging of the Spirit of God. Sadly, many of our people have not gotten the vision, and would rather stay home – it is their loss, and we miss them each night. Understand, too, there is a sense of urgency, and we are not looking at who didn’t show up; rather, we are thankful for those who do, and press on in faith.
Something is happening in our spirits. God is changing us through our nightly encounters. He is helping us build stronger relationships in the church. It is my firm opinion the Lord is preparing us to receive scores of new people into this local assembly of believers. In order for a church to minister, it needs to be ready, equipped with God’s matchless power. Were we totally lacking before this prayer journey began? Absolutely not! God is tweaking us, adjusting here and there so we can fulfill the call of Christ.
Some amazing things have already happened, and we fully expect more. Within one week, there have been three people who walked into the church from off the streets around our church facilities. In Babbie Mason’s excellent CD entitled heritage of faith, Babbie and her mother sing a song which talks about what is happening here – “Stop By the Church.” That’s exactly what is happening around here. People who are hurting and in need of help are stopping by the church, and we have been there to show God’s love to them.
The first one came on a Monday night. One of the men reminded me how it happened. He heard me as I walked up and down the aisle crying out to God, “send those people the world has thrown away to us, the downcast, the hookers, drug addicts, the ones who have no hope.” It wasn’t five minutes later a young woman stuck her head in the door as we were closing our prayer meeting. She said she didn’t want to disturb us, so I told her I walked outside to talk with her. My wife brought her inside and talked with me for a moment about the situation.
In just a few moments we asked her to come around and let us pray with her. This was not something new to her: unknown to us, she has a connection to this church. Her aunts faithfully attend here, and she used to come here as she was growing up. We prayed with her, believing the Lord would make a change in her life, and after wards, she and my wife talked for a long time. This young woman has a lot going on, but we believe the Lord brought her to us for a purpose.
During the Sunday night service of the same week, my wife had stepped out of the building for a moment. When she came back in, there was someone with her I had never seen before. The Spirit of the Lord was strong during that meeting, and there was a strong anointing as I preached the Word. I can still remember the outpouring of love our church showed this woman as we ministered to her. As pastor, it did my heart good to see my people reach out to someone in need. God is testing and preparing us as we strive to become the church He wants us to be.
Last night was such a powerful meeting, it is difficult to describe. We began the night with the story of Hannah and her son, Samuel. This woman wanted a child, and prayed with her heart in the presence of Eli, the priest of God. She was accused of being drunk, but she explained her grief to the man of God. He then blessed her and sent her away. Now, here’s faith: she left the temple, ate and wasn’t sad any more. She knew God was going to help!
There was prayer for healing and deliverance all during the night. One of the brothers read from a book about the Azusa Street Revival. The Lord did mighty things then, and will again. We also talked about the fact ten years before that great revival on Azusa Street, people met in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, calling on God with all their hearts. Out of those meetings came what is now called the Church of God with international headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee.
One of the sisters asked the church to pray for my right eye, which has been virtually unusable for over four years. As they gathered around and prayed, faith began to rise in me, and I began walking around the building with my left eye shut. I began seeing things with my right eye that had not happened in several years. Stripes on the American flag, the word TAMA on the bass drum, and Clavinova on the electric piano. Now, my eye isn’t completely healed, but I have faith in God it will be. God takes the impossible and does the miraculous.
Near the end of last night’s service, a young man stepped inside the building and I talked with him for a moment. He’s come to the parsonage several times before, always looking for a handout. He has always been polite, and this time was no different. He asked for some money to buy a loaf of bread; I gave him all I had in my pocket and sent him on his way. My people immediately gathered to pray for him, asking God to lift him out of bondage and to set his feet on the right path. I am going to attempt to contact his pastor in the next day or so in order to get him some more help.