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THE POWER OF THE PRAYING CHURCH

In The Twenty First Century

by Dr. David Mohan

It is mandatory for every local church to receive a clear goal from the Lord and labour to accomplish it. The kingdom of darkness will do everything to destroy that vision. Only by intercession in the local church will God move in great might and power to accomplish His purposes.
God sees sin as the human problem. His only solution to it is His church, purchased by the blood of Jesus. This church must be a praying church as taught by the example of the Lord Jesus Himself. It is to be revived and militant, not asleep and silent. Believers in the church are to pray before dawn and after dark for a soul-stirring, heaven-sent, Holy Spirit inspired revival. This will turn the tide in our pleasure-loving, spiritually slumbering postmodern age. God wants His sons and daughters to be soldiers, not sleepers. He wants life service, not lip service; total commitment, not token commitment. Our perfect example for this is none other than our Lord Jesus Himself.

Prayer in the Local Church
Jesus, at His ascension, asked His disciples to wait for the promise ofthe Father. The faithful 120 waited fervently in the upper room and received the Holy Spirit. The church was born on the Day of Pentecost. It was birthed among the fervent prayers. The initial leadership of the Jerusalem church gave supreme priority to prayer by devoting themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). So any local church is at first a body of praying believers. If it is not so, it cannot know the power of God, nor will it move in God’s direction. Prayer must be the primary activity and the first ministry in any local church. This ministry unto the Lord makes ministry unto people possible in the day-to-day life of any local church.

It is mandatory for every local church to receive a clear goal from the Lord and labour to accomplish it. The kingdom of darkness will do everything to destroy that vision. Only by intercession in the local church will God move in great might and power to accomplish His purposes. God will also raise up intercessors in the church. They will take no rest and will not give God rest until His objective is accomplished (Isaiah 62:6-7).

It is normal in every church for the believers to expect the senior pastor to pray for them. But it is the wisdom of the senior pastor to train believers to pray for the spiritual leadership of the church. They must pray for the spiritual leadership of their local church—that they may have clear vision, a burden from the Lord, discernment, humility, courage and boldness, separation from self, sin and the world, and authority with God.

Our New Life Assembly of God Church in Chennai, India, is soaked in prayer. We earmark prayer days for the next year in the month of October in the previous year. At the outset of every year, our church starts with a week of prayer in the first seven days of January. The next season of fasting and prayer starts on the first of February for 40 days. In the middle of the year, we have our 21-day fast beginning the first of June. There is also a three-day fast at the end of December.

Every day except Sunday there is early morning prayer. Twenty-four-hour worship is going on round the clock, and 24-hour personal prayer takes place in our church basement for men and women separately. We have prayer closets in our church balcony, again for men and women separately.

Every Friday night is allocated for all-night prayer. Our believers and pastors attend these regional meetings. On Fridays during the daytime, all the pastors of our church fast and pray for our 13 weekend worship services. We have a praying army in the women’s wing. Every Thursday they pray for the pastors. In addition, whenever God leads, we set apart three days of special fasting and prayer for the purification and sanctification of our whole church. So our church is soaked with and in prayer.

The key to all of this is the senior pastor. If the senior pastor is not the model for prayer life to the other pastors and believers in the church, may have many other programs but will not hold prayer as the top priority.

As a church seeks God in prayer as a priority, He gives grace, wisdom and all the other resources needed by the church. That’s why, in his epistles, the Apostle Paul was very particular about asking churches to pray (Romans 15:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). God is not partial, so every church can and must be soaked with prayer. Start with wherever you are in the prayer life of your church and go to the next level. The triune God will come and help you reach that next level.

Prayer and Evangelism
Our church takes the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and the second coming of our Lord Jesus (Acts 1:11) very seriously. So we pay more attention to evangelism. If a local church is not soaked in prayer, it cannot maintain its enthusiasm for evangelism and it will struggle to do evangelism. But Jesus was a super evangelist. He walked and preached the good news in all His territory. Even though some are called to be evangelists in the fivefold ministry of the local church, every believer is called to do the “ministry of reconciliation” (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). It is the responsibility of every believer in the church to bring nonbelievers into reconciliation with God. Each believer has his or her own family members, relatives, friends and neighbours to be reconciled to God.

We call this OIKOS evangelism. Oikos in Greek means “household.” This includes relatives, friends and neighbours. We encourage all of our believers to write 10 names in the OIKOS card specially prepared for the beginning of the year. Each one focuses their prayer on their OIKOS list. There are three aspects to this: care event, care act, and care witness.

Some on an OIKOS list may not be interested in coming to church directly. They may want to attend a family birthday celebration and so on. Our believers invite their friends and present the gospel in a purposely non-threatening way. This is the care event.

Visiting people in hospitals and in times of distress and need is called the care act. Here they share the love of God in hospitals and in people’s houses. But the purpose is to bring them to a salvation experience.

Care witness is sharing their life experience of salvation with others. This is how our church encourages every believer to involve themselves in personal evangelism. People on an OIKOS list can come to “care cells.” By this time they will be more than willing to come to our church worship service.

In almost all 13 weekend services, we welcome newcomers to our church. A proper followup system and constant equipping in church education help them become rooted and grounded in the love of the Lord.

We can preach the gospel by different methods such as open meetings, film evangelism, healing meetings, tract distribution, etc. But involving every believer in the church to share the gospel with their own family members, friends, relatives and neighbours is so powerful that the individual believer will always grow in the Lord.

If the senior pastor is enthusiastic about prayer, the church will definitely grow in corporate prayer.

The senior pastor himself should take the lead in corporate prayer; it should never be delegated to others on the pastoral team at the outset.

Ten to twenty per cent of any congregation is a praying group. First of all, this group must be identified, motivated and systematized for corporate prayer. This number can be increased steadily by the miracle working power of God in the lives of those who regularly attend the prayer meetings.

Jesus, who is interceding even now, will help us develop prayer warriors.

As prayer is our direct attack on the devil, he will fight against us at the outset of our corporate prayer initiatives, but constant and continued prayer will set him to flight.

If we are faithful in developing several groups of believers for corporate prayer, God will entrust us with more believers.

If the senior pastor is able to motivate some of his associates for corporate prayer, the load can be shared over the course of time. But the senior pastor must be the head in the department of corporate prayer.

Constant motivation should be provided to the pastors and believers as the devil is trying to discourage them by bringing all sorts of problems into their lives. Once they learn the secret of
overcoming the devil by their own prayers, it becomes easier for the senior pastor and the church to persevere in prayer.

Continuous teaching on prayer in different dimensions will help believers to know the truth concerning prayer. The truth will set them free in their prayer life.

The secret to being counted worthy to escape the the terrors to come (Luke 21:34-36) and to enjoying the right purchased by Christ to stand with Him is simply stated at the first of verse 36: “Watch therefore, and pray always …”

As prayer is the heartbeat of the local church, it must take its rightful priority. Prayer is hard work. Perseverance in prayer is a struggle. But if any senior pastor is willing to pay the price, though
it may seem difficult at first, all of heaven will back him up. I encourage all the local churches to flourish in persistent prayer.
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DR. DAVID MOHAN—is the Senior Pastor and founder of New Life Assembly
of God (NLAG) in Chennai (Madras), india. This Assembly has grown from
seven people to 40,000 people in the last 30 years. Dr. Mohan cites
Faith and passionate prayer as the two most important factors in the
ongoing growth of this church. Four thousand care cells are the
foundation of the present congregation.
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