The Army of God Goes Forward on its Knees
At the onset of the church, the disciples were known for continuing steadfastly in the teaching of God’s Word, the fellowship of believers, the breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42). The Church of the living God should continue to hold to these four pillars of the local church. It has rightly been said that these are the same four pillars of discipleship in an individual believer’s walk with the Lord.
If a survey of Christ’s followers were to be taken today, whether it is related to their personal walk with the Lord or regarding the practices of their local church, it would quickly be seen that the teaching of God’s Word continues to be a focus. It is only through the preaching of God’s Word that people are saved and the church edified. We appreciate the need for fellowship, even scheduling opportunities for such to take place. Additionally, in honor of Christ’s command to remember Him, the breaking of bread is a priority as we worship the One who alone is worthy.
It seems however, that even as believers and local assemblies, many of us have failed to understand the importance and urgency of prayer. Personal prayer and the corporate prayer meeting have gone by the wayside for many. We are more inclined to schedule a Bible conference to teach on prayer or to have fellowship groups to discuss the importance of prayer. We find it difficult to bring ourselves to simply pray. As has often been noted, the prayer meeting in many of our assemblies is the most poorly attended of all our meetings.
Many years ago, the Lord was working in the hearts of several brothers, transforming the way they understood and practiced prayer in their prayer closet. The Lord began to burden these men that the church needed to return to the roots of the early church. He planted the seed for having a week that would be devoted to seeking God in prayer. After several years of seeking the Lord personally and together, the Lord led them to schedule the first North American Week of Prayer in May 2015.
This then would be a different kind of conference than we were used to; not one devoted to teaching on prayer nor to engage in fellowship with believers to talk about prayer. Instead, this would be a gathering of believers to seek the Lord in prayer.
This initial week of prayer focused on the theme of “Revival” from Psalm 143:11, “Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake.” We sought God for the revival of our personal relationship with Him, the revival of our local assemblies and the revival of His Church, particularly in North America. Since that first year, the Lord has continued to lead us on, devoting weeks of prayer to the same burden for revival. For two years, 2020 and 2021, we did not gather in person, but the Lord redirected us to online prayer sessions and regional prayer meetings throughout North America. Last year we enjoyed a “hybrid approach” with saints meeting together at Boulevard Bible Chapel in Pembroke Pines, Florida, and others gathering online and regionally in person. Short messages related to the theme were preached and posted online for other prayer groups to benefit from before they prayed.
We marvel at the countless testimonies of transformation in individuals, marriages, families, and local churches that have resulted from these times of prayers. Every testimony of individual repentance, souls saved, relationships restored, believers walking in unity and victory, and assemblies reinvigorated with gospel zeal bears witness to the power of our great God. This in turn brings glory to Christ and renews our confidence in Him.
In April 2023, we are prayerfully anticipating and planning for another week of prayer at Boulevard Bible Chapel in Florida. The theme for this year is, “Anticipating His Wonders.” As the children of Israel were being led into the promised land, Joshua charged the people saying, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (Josh 3:5). Is it not true that the people of God are still charged to be set apart and that we should still be anticipating His wondrous works in our day?
If you have not participated in the week of prayer in the past, we invite and encourage you to prayerfully consider how you might do so this year. You can join with us in person or follow along with the livestreams or perhaps even lead a local gathering or online meeting. For more information, you are invited to visit the naweekofprayer.com website.
As we prepare and plan for this year’s week of prayer, we continue to pray that His Church today would be an army for God’s work, recognizing that we cannot go forward but on our knees. We should never be content with a North American week of prayer, but rather that the Spirit of God would do such a work of transformation in our lives that we might know something of a North American life of prayer!
by Jon Benson