Over the years, God had led me to incorporate a number of prayer initiatives into the life of our fellowship, for various times and various reasons. Looking back, although at the time we would have never felt ourselves ready for a week of non-stop prayer, God was actually nonetheless preparing us, little by little, baby step by baby step, for just that.
We encouraged our body to pray for our elders when they went on retreat, and one particularly critical year, I asked our body to sign up for round-the-clock prayer for that two-and-half days that the elders were together. People could pray at their own homes or wherever they were, and the time slots were only 15 minutes long. Our body responded; we prayed; and God worked!
Another time, the elders impressed the body with the need to pray for two critical issues: the purchase of a piece of property for our new church location (we were meeting in a school – and tired of it!), and the recruitment of a new “senior leader”. I asked the body to consider committing to one day of prayer and fasting regarding these issues during that time. Day after day that whole season of several months was filled with people making that commitment.
Over the years, we also had several overnight times of worship and prayer in our church sanctuary. In 2006, we stretched it out a little further, and had a three day special event over Easter weekend, starting on Good Friday with the traditional service, and then an additional service after, followed by a worship time around a bonfire out on our property. The sanctuary was open from then through Sunday am, Easter morning, and people were able to come and go during this time for prayer and meditation, as well as some additional times of worship, followed by a wonderful Easter morning service and baptisms. The theme of the weekend was, “To Be With Him,” and even that name was designed to encourage our body to begin to see prayer as more than just the “saying of prayers” but as being with Jesus.
There were a number of times when I asked God about us doing a longer, even week-long, round-the-clock prayer event; I remember in particular several conversations Ryan Thurman and I had about it; but it never seemed like the right time . . . yet.