As a young boy, church attendance was a part of life. Attendance at an Evangelical church was the only church and worship style I knew. I vividly remember the Wednesday night service or prayer meeting as it was called. Parishioners would speak their prayer requests to the general audience. Once this process concluded, large numbers of individuals would move toward the altar at the front of the church while others knelt in place at their seats. The church would become a beehive of voices lifting up prayer requests to their Heavenly Father. This would last fifteen to 30 minutes and then members began the process of returning to their seats for a closing hymn and, ‘yes’, a closing prayer. It was as a young boy of four or five years of age that I listened to these ‘prayer meetings’ praying for seven young men from my community who were in battle in the Pacific and Europe during World War II. It was this group of ‘prayer warriors’ who sang the Hallelujah chorus when all seven of these boys returned home safely after the war. This made an immeasurable impact and impression upon me. It was out of this foundation of prayer I entered college and my adult life.
While during my young adult life, I was not a prayer warrior but I never drifted away from church and attendance. I wrote myself notes, as well as notes in the margin of my Bible. Highlighting special verses and sermon notes peppered my Bible and spiral notebook that I carried to church with me. I cannot tell you who said what, only that it impressed me. An example of these notes is “Seek the favor of Him who dwells in the burning bush.” I found myself drawing parallels between Jesus’ culture and the culture I lived in. For example, Jesus hung out at wells, and wells were the natural gathering places in ancient culture. Coffeehouses are postmodern wells. The only difference is that we draw shots of espresso instead of drawing water out of a well.
I have had the privilege to be the Head, Executive Director or President of several large institutions. In all of these positions I made it a custom to begin leadership or general meetings with an invocation or prayer. In retrospect I raise the question, was this a perfunctory exercise. Was it really communing with God? Or was it a process? I often wonder what would have happened at the end of the invocation or prayer if I had announced “today we are going to continue our invocation/prayer and have a prayer meeting. I do firmly believe we need to pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on us. I learned we don’t have to be afraid of the enemy’s attacks. They are counterproductive when we counteract them with prayer. The more opposition we experience the harder we have to pray and the harder we have to pray. the more miracles God does.
As the new year begins, I am committed to seeking the ‘Favor of Him Who dwells in the Burning Bush.’ I am going to seek a favorite place to pray, a place where I can get my mind focused. I will plead Psalm 84:1, 1 “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” In today’s language my prayers will be hyperlinked to His promises and will be double-clicked by earnest prayer.