#018 = THE STATE OF THE PRAYER MOVEMENT: ONCE AND FUTURE
By David Bryant National Consultation for National Prayer Leaders € San Francisco—January
1993--NCUP (National Consultation on United Prayer)--Three hundred leaders, representing 160 denominational and parachurch organizations, met for 24 hours of prayer "to inaugurate a new initiative in spiritual leadership for prayer across the Body of Christ. Out of that gathering came, among other things, the National Call to United Prayer.
Since then, we¹ve seen a dramatic increase in national prayer events, initiatives, ministries and coalitions, serving the national prayer movement.
In turn, we¹ve also seen a significant increase in the "streams of prayer" infusing the riverbed of revival with the prayers of the saints.(See diagram)
Since faith and prayer are gifts from the Father, He is the only explanation for this extraordinary ground swell of intercession. The full ³River of Revival² may not be here yet, but the streams are very active. Therefore, if God has stirred up this movement, can the river be far behind?
Through it all, regional and national prayer leaders have increasingly been raised up by the Lord of the movement, to join their gifts and callings in serving God’s praying people.
A Few Vital Questions
1) DO YOU SEE THIS? (Ezekiel 47:6/ see John 7:37-39). Many more throughout the Church need to be awakened to what the Spirit is doing in the prayer movement, and called to ³watch and pray² as the river of revival continues to rise.
2) WHAT IS THE SPIRIT SAYING? (see the new Nationwide Call to the Church In America). There seems to be a growing consensus among regional and national prayer leaders about the core vision and hope toward which we are praying.
3) WHAT IS THE SPIRIT DOING?
Quite apart from all other answers to our prayers, throughout the 1990s I believe the primary blessing of the national prayer movement has been, and continues to be, the re-conversion of God’s praying people. This has certainly been true in other Great Awakenings. Today, hundreds of thousands who have been involved in one or more of the ³streams of prayer², have been turned from despair, hopelessness and unbelief (repentance) and turned toward Christ in a whole new way, as they¹ve prayed together. Out of prayer, they are now embracing a larger vision of and passion for Christ and His Kingdom.
In turn, such a ³re-conversion² (³conversion² means to turn around and become something different) of God’s praying people will ultimately unleash revival upon the whole Church—these are God’s key agents for revival, by virtue of the ³re-conversion² process they have gone through. In addition, the impact of their prayers and influence will overflow into the saving conversion of multitudes of Americans in a national spiritual awakening to Christ.
4) HOW IS THE SPIRIT DOING THIS?
It is my observation, working down in the trenches with the movement and with its leaders for many years, that there is an identifiable six-step process at work:
"re-conversion process" encourages us to be fully available to work together, both in preparing the way for revival and in expressing the fruits of revival as God grants it.
5) WHAT AWAITS US IN THE 21st CENTURY?
*Visitation—God will give us the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in the manifest presence of Christ and in the acceleration of His Kingdom work worldwide. He is not only able and willing, He is ready to do so. Many leaders are expressing this conviction today.
6) WHAT IS NEEDED NEXT FROM US?
*Intensification—With even greater depths of unity and intentionality, regional and national prayer leaders must provide collective servant leadership to the national prayer movement, strengthening the very trends listed above. God is marvelously at work in all these trends. We must labor together in every way we can to boldly foster the "re-conversion" process with God’s people through their incorporation into this movement. *Clarification—Priority must be given to helping all of God’s praying people become increasingly one heart and voice about the vision of the Christ-centered revival toward which we are praying. We must insure that they become fully "prisoners of hope" (Zechariah 9: 11-12)--the ultimate result of the "re-conversion" process. This alone will sustain them in prayer and preparation for the coming revival. This will uniquely qualify them to be the Spirit’s agents in fostering among their own people the revival that God is ready to give.
³Do you see this?² (Ezek. 47) And again, ³Lift up your voice and do not be afraid² (Isa. 40). New Testament precedent: How Jesus ignited the prayer meeting in Acts l.
Again, the revival in Antioch (Acts 11) and the role of Paul (consider Colossians 1:24-29). In all these passages, Œclarification² was key to the revival anticipated. Consider how throughout the great awakenings in our own nation, preaching-and-praying continued to walk hand in hand.
CONCLUSION: Going into the 21st century, we need to flood the movement of prayer with "Messengers of Hope". Messengers of Hope proclaim Christ in such a way that they help consummate the movement at the feet of Christ—focusing it preeminently on Him for all He is worth; filling it with the word of the Lord on the hope of revival; and calling it into sustained devotion to His greater glory and into holy obedience to the advance of His Kingdom worldwide.
Such a Message of Hope is critical to the sustaining and fulfillment of all God has designed for the national prayer movement. It is critical to insuring that the movement does not become discouraged or diverted from its calling. This, I believe, is the greatest challenge before prayer leaders serving the movement over the next five years.
---David Bryant January 22, 1999
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