Like many churches in our area, the summer schedule is a bit challenging. Some call it the "summer slump." We just realize that most families have just about eight weeks a year to schedule vacations and in addition to church-sponsored mission trips, camps and other events, weekly attendance is affected. (This, however, doesn't necessarily mean that those who miss a couple of services are bad Christians.)
Nevertheless, our mid-week gatherings are unique during the summer. We schedule church family BBQ nights, evenings at the local baseball game, movie nights and other such events.
Last week, we scheduled a "Community Prayer Walk." Truth be told, the attendance was. . .well, pretty low. Apparently there is truth in the old adage that if you want to guarantee low attendance at a church gathering, just call it a "prayer meeting".
Yet, I was greatly encouraged.
As we first gathered together, prior to walking throughout the community, we discussed the value of intercessory prayer and the reasoning for doing such a prayer walk. We asked God to open our eyes and ears so that we may see and hear Him clearly. As we walked, we saw neighbors and homes and prayed over each.
After about an hour, we met together again to share what we had heard from God through the walk. Here are some of the things shared by the church:
- I saw homes that I drive by weekly and never think about. I realized that each home represents an individual or family in need of God.
- The longer we are in a community, the less we see.
- There are great needs in our community.
- We should do this regularly, not just every now and then.
- We must continue to go on mission elsewhere, but have to view this community, each day, as the mission field. God has placed us here for His glory.
- Most, if not all great awakenings and times of spiritual renewal in the history of the church began with God calling a small group together for prayer.
- Evangelism is talking to people about God. Intercession is talking to God about people.
- Many in our community live in the "shadow of our steeple" and do not know us.
- Many, if not most of our neighbors do not know Jesus Christ. Eternity hangs in the balance.
This was an encouraging night for me as a pastor and a challenging one as well. Prayer, as we know, is essential for spiritual renewal and growth. God does all the heavy lifting. It is He who does the saving. Yet, he has invited us to join him in this great endeavor and prayer is our first connection with Him. May these prayer gatherings, prayer walks and times of intercession never be viewed as less than vital.