Fasting & Prayer
Practical Prayer Commitments
BY SANDRA G. CLOPINE
Are fasting and prayer irrelevant or impractical today? No, not at all! God is calling the body of Christ to a renewed emphasis of this biblical mandate. Scripture reminds us: "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning" (Joel 2:12, NKJV). "Give yourselves to fasting and prayer" (1 Corinthians 7:5).
This topic is front and center in the Denominational Prayer Leaders Network. Representatives from 30 different prayer ministries, including the Assemblies of God, meet together annually to share reports, challenge each other with vision for the future, and uphold one another in ongoing, intercessory prayer. At the 1997 meeting, Dee Duke, pastor of a conservative Baptist church in Oregon, presented his testimony.
In 1976 Dee was pastoring a church of about 20 people. The church struggled for a number of years, and by 1988 he was so discouraged he submitted his letter of resignation.
At the same time he attended a Pastors Prayer Summit where pastors meet together for 4 days to pray specifically for and with one another. When Dee came back from the prayer gathering, he said, "I felt like I had been saved all over again." The Lord met him in such a special way that he postponed his resignation and developed seven prayer commitments to God, which have changed not only his life but the life of his church.
1. Spend 1 hour a day in personal, uninterrupted prayer.
2. Spend a minimum of 1 hour a day praying with at least one other person. He prays from 6 to 7 a.m. and 9 to 10 p.m. every day at the church with anyone who cares to join him. He always takes 1 of his 8 children with him for these special prayer times, and up to 50 others join them.
3. Pray for everyone in the church by name each week. To guide him in this commitment, he uses a laptop computer that includes every members picture and prayer requests.
4. Pray at least once a month with another pastor in the area. He now prays twice a month with 100 other ministers.
5. Preach numerous sermons a year on prayer.
6. Plan four major prayer events a year. For example, 10 days before Easter, each church member writes down 10 names of people they will invite to church who dont regularly attend church elsewhere. Then they pray for these people in 24-hour prayer meetings. The first time Pastor Dukes church did this, 57 people were saved. Now, in a town of 1,700, they have grown from 20 to 1,300 in attendance.
Every home in the area gets a letter and a phone call four times a year to let people know the church is interested in them and will pray for their needs.
7. Make Jefferson Baptist known as the church that prays. People who serve as intercessors walk around the local schools, hospitals, and businesses praying for those inside.
When asked why his church has had so much success, Pastor Duke said, "Because prayer is focused on lost people instead of on problems. Our church motto is: Much prayermuch blessing. Little prayerlittle blessing. No prayerno blessing."
Sandra G. Clopine was the former coordinator of the Assemblies of God National Prayer Center, Springfield, Missouri.