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Today I have a pleasure to welcome Jared Brock to Flowing Faith as a guest blogger. Jared is the author of A Year of Living Prayerfully, a humorous travel memoir about prayer. He is the cofounder of Hope for the Sold, an abolitionist charity that fights human trafficking one word at a time. Jared is happily married to his best friend, Michelle, whom he first kissed in the seventh grade.

Here’s Jared:

I recently traveled 37,000 miles around the world on a modern-day prayer pilgrimage. I met the Pope, danced with rabbis, visited monks, walked on coals, and revived my prayer life. I discovered a world of prayer traditions across the Judeo-Christian faith family, and dug into the history of our family’s greatest prayer warriors.

Here are ten I discovered along the way.

  1. Francis of Assisi

Francis, the patron saint of ecology, was a nature-loving monk, and his followers have founded dozens of hospitals and universities. He’s one of the few saints revered in all three major branches of Christianity.

I’m inspired by Francis’s boldness in prayer and action – in a time of enormous war and upheaval, Francis traveled to meet the Muslim sultan, in hopes of winning him to Jesus. While he didn’t succeed, he didn’t get executed either. In fact, the sultan so appreciated his boldness that Francis stayed for an entire year.

Takeaway: Where can you practice boldness in your life? Maybe it’s a conversation you’re putting off or a new chapter you’ve been making excuses for not moving forward.. Be bold and start today!

  1. Brother Lawrence

Lawrence was a monk who washed dishes and cooked meals, and tried to pray without ceasing. He became so famous for his habit that someone interviewed him, and published a little book called, The Practice of the Presence of God. The book hasn’t been out of print in over 300 years, with over 20 million copies in English alone.

Lawrence believed it was easy to be close to God in prayer – if you didn’t wander far from Him during the rest of the day. I discovered Lawrence’s home after many months of research, and the impact of his simple prayer philosophy has helped me – and millions of people – to constantly commune with Christ.

Takeaway: Find ways to connect the everyday to the eternal. When you wake up, pray about being alive in Christ. As you shower, ask God to cleanse you from unrighteousness. As you put on your clothes, put on the armor of God. As you walk or drive to work, pray about your spiritual journey.

  1. Teresa of Avila

Teresa is the Doctor of Prayer in the Catholic church – a high honor, especially for a woman born 500 years ago. I visited her simple monastery in Spain, just outside the beautiful walls of Avila.

Teresa believed we are all on a spiritual journey, and there are seven “levels” in the process, ranging from practicing humility to achieving ecstatic spiritual marriage. While the lower levels of prayer – including the humble recognition of God’s work in our life – is very helpful, things got a little crazy towards the end. Teresa was said to levitate. I tend to stick to her first few ideas, trying to see where God is at work in my life.

Takeaway: Think about the times during the day you could focus on God more often. When do you get distracted, and how can you incorporate God into your life in those times?

  1. Benedict of Nursia

This pious monk is considered the father of Western monasticism, and for good reason – he literally wrote the book on it. The Rule of Saint Benedict has served as a guidebook for millions of monastics throughout the centuries, famously summed up by the phrase “Ora et Labora” – pray and work.

The patron saint of monks and spelunkers built a dozen monasteries in his lifetime, but his last one was truly impressive: a hulking hilltop fortress called Monte Cassino. I’ve visited the massive stone fortress where Benedict died, and reflected on the impact of his prayer and work.

Benedict believed that prayer and work aren’t mutually exclusive, and that times of work and prayer can go together. Prayer infuses mission with meaning.

Takeaway: Instead of trying to fix your problems by work alone, start with prayer. Then, as you work, continue to see it as an offering or a constant supplication. Let your work and prayer be one.

  1. John of the Cross

The Christian life is beautiful, but it isn’t easy. In this life we will have trouble. John of the Cross was no exception. His level of devotion was so extreme that another group of monks kidnapped and imprisoned him, bringing him out for regular public floggings. It was during the desperate time that he wrote the epic poem Dark Night of the Soul. He eventually tore the hinges off his cell and escaped, and went on to found a handful of monasteries.

Like John of the Cross, and Mother Teresa many years later, I too struggle with dark nights of the soul. John’s life encourages me to weather those difficult times – to make Christ my rock and anchor in the storms of life.

Takeaway: Make Jesus your firm foundation. Rather than trying to fix or avoid our problems, take time to do the greater work in prayer.

  1. Brother Roger

Roger Schütz was 25 years old when World War II started, and he decided that Switzerland was too safe a place for any Christian to be during a time of war. So he bicycled to France.

One night he stopped in an almost-abandoned hilltop town called Taize, and an elderly woman invited him in for dinner. She asked him to stay in Taize, and he did. As the war progressed, Roger helped Jewish refugees flee from Nazi persecution.

As the years went on, more and more people started to visit Taize – today, almost 100,000 young people visit each year, for prayer and meditation. My wife and I visited Taize, and it was a wonderful experience. We prayed before breakfast, before lunch, and after supper, and each time of prayer started with 8 minutes of silence. Our goal was to “maintain inner silence in all things so as to dwell with Christ.”

Takeaway: Rather than always asking for things during prayer, set aside a moment to simply spend time with Jesus.

  1. John Wesley

Literally tens of millions of people are part of the Christian faith family because of the work of Wesley and his fellow ministers. The tiny preacher had a big mission – he’s famous for declaring that “the whole world is my parish.” I’ve had the opportunity to visit Wesley’s simple house, where I discovered a curious walk-in closet off his bedroom – his prayer room.

For the rest of the post…

“Prayer is where the action is.”

~ John Wesley

Jwesleysitting.JPG

“Prayer is where the action is.”

~ John Wesley

 

 

 

 by Alvin Reid

Should We Pray for Revival?

When do you think the following observations were made?

  • Ministers today seem more concerned with political power in society than spiritual fervency in the church, while pop culture contributes to the moral decay among the youth.
  • While marked by an increasing ethnic diversity and various religious beliefs, the nation’s established religious groups –– particularly Protestants –– demonstrate a sterile spirituality. One pastor bemoans the obsession with gambling and rudeness, while churches are attended at convenience.
  • College campuses teem with students chasing after the latest philosophies, the more unbiblical the better. The more educated a person you find, the less likely you are to discover a Christian. Meanwhile, churches are filled with people who listen to pastors preach then contradict the sermon by the way they live.

You may think these descriptions came from the blog of some concerned Christian commenting on our time. But the first one comes from Great Britain just before the preaching of John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and others who were used by God to lead a great revival there. The second comes from the American colonies prior to the First Great Awakening. The final came around 1800, with college campuses in the newly formed United States influenced by Voltaire, Rousseau, and others, at the dawn of the Second Great Awakening.

Ours is not the first generation to recognize the spiritual declension among us, or to see the need for God to awaken his church and touch our land. From the saints of the Old Testament to leaders in our time, prayer for revival has marked believers who understand the need for the Spirit surpasses our ability and intelligence.

For the rest of the post…

“God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.”

~ John Wesley

 

 

Prayer and Revival

A Compilation taken from materials found on the web, arranged and edited.

J. Edwin Orr

Dr J. Edwin Orr was a leading scholar of revivals who published detailed books about evangelical awakenings. His research discovered major spiritual awakenings about every fifty years following the great awakening from the mid-eighteenth century in which John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards featured prominently. This article, based on one of Edwin Orr’s messages, is adapted from articles reproduced in the National Fellowship for Revival newsletters in New Zealand and Australia.

There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.

Dr A. T. Pierson once said, ‘There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.’ Let me recount what God has done through concerted, united, sustained prayer.

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution (following 17761781) there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards; they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence.

What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness. In a typical Congregational church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennos, Massachusetts, in sixteen years had not taken one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Provost, quit functioning; he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment.

The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church ‘was too far gone ever to be redeemed.’ Voltaire averred and Tom Paine echoed, ‘Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place, where they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College, and they put on antiChristian plays at Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and they burnt it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790’s that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer.

There was a Scottish Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh named John Erskine, who published a Memorial (as he called it) pleading with the people of Scotland and elsewhere to unite in prayer for the revival of religion. He sent one copy of this little book to Jonathan Edwards in New England. The great theologian was so moved he wrote a response which grew longer than a letter, so that finally he published it is a book entitled ‘A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of all God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies…’

Is not this what is missing so much from all our evangelistic efforts: explicit agreement, visible unity, unusual prayer?

1792-1800

This movement had started in Britain through William Carey, Andrew Fuller and John Sutcliffe and other leaders who began what the British called the Union of Prayer. Hence, the year after John Wesley died (he died in 1791), the second great awakening began and swept Great Britain.

In New England, there was a man of prayer named Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, who in 1794, when conditions were at their worst, addressed an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States.

Churches knew that their backs were to the wall. All the churches adopted the plan until America, like Britain was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings, which set aside the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before revival came.

When the revival reached the frontier in Kentucky, it encountered a people really wild and irreligious. Congress had discovered that in Kentucky there had not been more than one court of justice held in five years. Peter Cartwright, Methodist evangelist, wrote that when his father had settled in Logan County, it was known as Rogue’s Harbour. The decent people in Kentucky formed regiments of vigilantes to fight for law and order, then fought a pitched battle with outlaws and lost.

There was a ScotchIrish Presbyterian minister named James McGready whose chief claim to fame was that he was so ugly that he attracted attention. McGready settled in Logan County, pastor of three little churches. He wrote in his diary that the winter of 1799 for the most part was ‘weeping and mourning with the people of God.’ Lawlessness prevailed everywhere.

For the rest of the post…

Did I mean “hours”? Yes.

“I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.”

~ John Wesley

“Prayer is where the action is.” 

John Wesley

“Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.”  

~ John Wesley

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