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PTAP: United Prayer

Prayer is communicating with God, hearing from Him, and gaining His perspective on things. In prayer we seek to hear His voice and learn His heart for the people, lands, and situations for which we are interceding. Prayer is one of the ways in which God invites us into what He is doing in the world. Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt 6:9-10).

Please pray that the believers all over the AP will rise up in prayer, unite, inquire of God, and seek to come alongside His heart for the people of the region. Pray that believers will be willing to be God's hands and feet; to be His ambassador's wherever they are placed (2 Cor. 5:20). In the turmoil that surrounds the region, many people are unsettled and questioning their faith, thus providing opportunities to share the Good News.  Pray for these connections.
Pray for unity over the body of believers in this area of the world. John 17:20-21 says, "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me." Unity in the body is one of the greatest witnesses to the world that the Father sent the Son and speaks volumes to those of other faiths looking on.
Pray for opportunities for spiritual conversations in all walks of life and that these connections will bear fruit. Pray for protection over each opening for the believer and the non-believer.  Pray that the believers in the region would realize the incredible opportunity they have for Kingdom purposes and be intentional.
For those places where the Son is not known, prayer needs to be a large part of releasing the Gospel into hearts. Prayer makes a Kingdom difference.
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prayer.gifI was privileged to have dinner here in Austin a few weeks ago with prayer leader and teacher Dan Henderson and another friend. I told him that there is a quote I've used many times which I had thought he had said and he confirmed it again for me. "If you want to have a crowd, don't call a prayer meeting."

And while there are exceptions, settings for group prayer don't typically require overflow seating. Yes, many Christians haven't yet embraced the power and impact of praying or don't feel comfortable praying with others so they avoid corporate prayer settings. We ought to continue to teach on prayer's importance and how to meaningfully pray with others to help change their thinking and posture on prayer.

However, others don't come for a variety of other reasons that are just part of life. Prayer times aren't always practical for many people, especially those with young children. Meetings are regularly in the evenings or early morning and childcare isn't usually provided.

Often we ask everyone to come to one location, the church, and yet many live thirty minutes to an hour away. Some are serving God in meaningful ways that require significant time so adding one more Christian activity simply isn't practical. It's unfair to blame them or call them unspiritual because they didn't make our prayer time.

And many people pray passionately and extensively at home, in their small group, with family members or other friends. They would argue that their prayer life is growing and thriving.  They just can't add one more church activity to their full schedule.

So let me suggest an idea that can at least enhance a church's prayer ministry and impact while understanding the limitations and uniquenesses of today's culture. We tried this on the National Day of Prayer this year and have seen a couple of other Austin churches use it for special prayer emphases.

First we asked people to give us their texting number or best email if they were willing to join others in prayer for the church, city and country the first Thursday in May. Then that day we put out two postings every hour that they would get via email or text to pray for. We asked them to pray right then for that request if possible. The postings also included video and musical options for meditation and praise. We added the same postings to our church Facebook and Twitter pages as well.

Many people told us how much they appreciated being included in the prayer day even though they couldn't come to our campus (we had a 12-1 group time at the church as well). And while our data is limited as to the total response we are confident that hundreds were involved in some way this year compared to only dozens when we had a longer prayer day exclusively at our church.

What if more groups around the world used a similar system to encourage prayer with them about a particular issue, conference or initiative?  Who knows the potential impact!

So perhaps we need to accept that gathering together these days to pray may take on new looks and methodology so that when we ask people to pray we more often than not actually get a crowd. I'm pretty convinced God would like that.

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