For me there is only one place to start if we want to see the people of this great nation come back to God. It is prayer. Focusing on prayer, for me, puts us in a place where we are reliant on God. Where we are open to His suggestions and ready to obey. It is when we let God lead that our best evangelism happens.
We recently met with a church who hadn’t been involved in running Alpha for a long time. And to be honest, they were not interested in starting again. We paid for coffee and talked about how the church was going and the Pastor highlighted that it was very difficult to get anyone to pray. We suggested a solution, which the church adopted, and they went through a prayer course put together by Pete Greig, founder of the 24/7 Prayer Movement. This taught the people of the church the importance of prayer and how to pray.
We met with the Pastor a couple of months after the course had finished and suggested that a good next step was a once a month 24/7 prayer room. The Pastor was deeply worried. What if no one signed up. What if they had to fill all the slots themselves! They advertised the event and the slots filled easily, even the ones overnight. The church had a little room overlooking their town which they set up as the prayer room and they prayed.
The Pastor called us to tell us how it had gone. They had loved it. Their congregation had loved it. They wanted more. But even bigger than that God had given them a heart for their town. They wanted to tell them about Jesus. Evangelism was now top of their priority list.
When I reflect on this story I realized that corporate prayer is still one of the biggest things that the church struggles with. Prayer gets sidelined. It mostly gets its slot on a Sunday morning. One person leads prayer from the front and everyone shuts their eyes, bows their heads and tries to focus on what is being said without thinking about the shopping list! However, I don’t believe this is the prayer that Jesus was talking about when he suggested, My church should be a house of prayer.
I believe that if could change our corporate prayer gatherings, or in some case just start one, we would find ourselves aligned with what God is wanting to do in our villages, towns, cities and nation. His heart is to have all in relationship with Him and once we start praying, we get that from Him and it leads us to effective evangelism. We need to be ready to hear from Him, through prayer, and be ready to obey.
If we are prepared to humble ourselves, pray concertedly together and show God we are serious about loving our community, I believe God will show us the best way to connect those who don’t know Him with Him!
Executive Director, Alpha New Zealand
PS. For more check out: www.prayercourse.org and two great books, The Church on It’s Knees by Jeremy Jennings and Red Moon Rising by Pete Greig.