Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Concert of Prayer

Ek deel graag o.s. stuk ter bemoediging van elkeen wat staan vir die waarheid te midde van swaarkry, verguising, vervolging, ens.  Hierdie stuk is deur Dr. Errol Wagner van Geirge Baptist Church aan my gestuur:

Concert of Prayer
‘At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD’ (Gen 4:27). Why this observation so early in the Biblical record. First, because when God’s people call earnestly together on the name of the LORD that is very significant in heaven. The angels observe this intercession. Most important the LORD responds to this intercession. Second, men were driven to this united intercession because they were threatened with a tide of wickedness. This is expressed in the hatred and defiance of Lamech (Gen 4:23-24). To that must be added the discouragement of the murder of Abel by Cain. Third, concern for the future of God’s cause on earth drove them to intercession. This was the first concert of prayer.

Jonathan Bayes described a concert of prayer for revival in Leeds in the last issue. To that was added guidelines in the form of ten reasons why churches should unite in a concert of prayer. The encouragement derived from that first concert led to a second on 11th of June. This time there was simultaneously a satellite meeting at Whitby, 11.00am to 1.00 pm. The earnestness of intercession and the unity enjoyed by those who gathered has inspired further action. This time it was decided to organise seven satellite meetings spread across Yorkshire: Ripon, Halifax, Mirfield, Leeds, Whitby, Hull and Sheffield to take place from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm on 17 September. Then later on 5th November a further central united concert is to gather in Leeds.  

Motivation is vital. There are books to inspire us. One such is Preparing Your Church for Revival by T M Moore published by Christian Focus, (110 page paperback). Another is Reformation Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by Carl R Trueman also published by Christian Focus, (125 page paperback). When we pray we have all the advantages of previous revivals  build on. Carl Trueman concentrates on the 16th Reformation. The author reminds us while Martin Luther is remembered for his heroic recovery of justification by faith alone he was essentially cross-centred (1 Cur 2:1-5). We must always be focused on what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. A third book that can inspire us to prayer is Taking Hold of God – Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer. This is a book of expositions on prayer edited by Joel R Beeke and Brian G Najapfour. Chapter eleven is titled Puritan Prayers for World Mission. In it Joel Beeke cites Jonathan Edwards book calling for a concert of extraordinary prayer. Edwards focused on ‘the promises of God that all families of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14), all nations would serve the Messiah (Ps 72:11, 17), all nations would come to the Lord (Is 2:2; Jer 3:17), true religion would prevail throughout the world (Pss 22:27; 65:5,8; 67:7; 98:3; 113:3; Isa 11:9; 54:1,4; Mal 1:11), idols and idolatrous nations would perish from the earth (Isa 60:12; Jer 10:11,15), and the full number of Jews and Gentiles would be saved (Rom 11:12,25). In typical Puritan fashion Edwards urged believers to turn these promises into prayers’ (Page 214). But are not the references cited above descriptions of the world to come - not this earth?  No! There are present day examples of extraordinary gospel expansion. For instance there is a city of 120,000 in the Far East. Seven years ago a church was planted which has grown to fill a building which seats 1,800.  This last Christmas season saw 10,000 people gather at that venue. There are numerous other churches in that city where the proportion of genuine believers has increased to about thirty percent of the whole.  

There is deep concern that the UK is under divine judgement and is being by-passed while other nations experience spiritual awakenings. Conrad Pomeroy who is a Reformed Baptist pastor in Dundee, Scotland, begins an article in the Banner of Truth magazine (Issue 574) as follows, ‘So brothers, which of you can speak of conversions in your church?’ Conrad then draws attention to the overall national reality of many shrinking churches. Larger churches with much activity mask this reality. They are added to mostly by the already converted but not by those converted out of the world. ‘Those who belong to larger churches may not feel the urgency of the situation – there is comfort in numbers, and the list of weekly activities conveys a sense of “business as usual”.’

Conrad points to the manner in which some respond to the spiritual drought. Visitors from the outside are very rare. ‘Some churches resort to mere methods and tactics – “transform your style of worship, bring in more music, cut back on the preaching, soften the lighting (and the message!), and shelve church discipline”.’ A further consideration is that the spiritual bankruptcy of secularised Britain is not reflected by the immigrant communities where there are conversions. Black Pentecostal churches in London and other cities are noted for their growth and vitality.

Those struggling in church plants and those persevering in shrinking churches are generally those who most appreciate the meaning of the text above: ‘At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD’ (Gen 4:27).   It is time to seek our God in earnest.  Will future historians note that it was when we began to call on the LORD that the spiritual tide began to turn?