I mentioned earlier the Caldwells and their prayer program at Windsor Village UM Church in Houston. It has set me thinking about prayer in a way I haven't thought about in years. The Caldwells showed a series of photos during their presentation at the PGF meeting of about 500 of their members parading down the grassy median of a 4 lane highway through the heart of some acreage the church was acquiring to build a gigantic new church building, establish certain commercial centers, including a bank, and develop a tract of housing. The members lined up, left shoulder to left shoulder, right shoulder to right, so that the line had people facing both sides of the street in alternating fashion, as the subject property is on both sides of the street. Then the people prayed about the vision that they had for the real estate, prayed according to a script that had been written by the church leadership.
It all seemed a little regimented to me, maybe manipulated by the church leadership, but that's what they did, and apparently that is standard fare for this struggling little church of now 17,000.
I came home and looked at the books I have, now plainly visible on this great wall of books that Macon constructed for me while he was here (more on that in a future post), and among them was Richard J. Foster's Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home that was published in 1992, which was when I bought it at Montreat. The index had an entry on "corporate prayer", and here is part of what Foster writes there:
[A Korean pastor] brought me a newspaper article (complete with his excellent translation, for it was written in Korean) that describes the story of the Myong-Song Presbyterian Church, located in the southeastern part of Seoul. The Korean churches are well known for their early morning prayer meetings, but even so this story is unusual. This is a group that began about ten years ago with forty people, and today twelve thousand gather each morning for three prayer meetings - at 4:00 A.M., 5:00 A.M., and 6:00 A.M. Jung-Oh [the Korean pastor] explained to me that they must shut the doors at 4:00 A.M. to begin the first service, and so if people arrive a little late, they must wait until the 5:00 A.M. meeting.
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There are indications that, as we approach the twenty-first century, the greatest prayer movement in living memory is already under way. In much smaller but still significant ways the story of Myong-Song Presbyterian Church can be repeated many times over. One congregation I know has forty prayer meetings per week involving a total of a thousand people. I am acquainted with churches in which anywhere from 15 to 24 percent of the congregation are engaged in organized, corporate, intercessory prayer weekly. I have met with national prayer leaders, and none of them has seen anything like what is now beginning to occur. It is too early to tell how significant this new awakening toward prayer will be, but the signs are encouraging.
More on the Myong-Song PC here UPDATE: This link is to an essay by Danie Vermeulen. He is the director of "Dawn Ministries" in Africa, and did church planting in South Africa. The Dawn Ministries Africa website has this reference to Kijabe (scroll down to "God Brings Somalia to Kenya"). Small, small world.