A CHURCH PRAYING FOR REVIVAL
Tom Maluga, Senior Pastor of Uptown Baptist Church, located in an inner city neighborhood in Chicago, preached on prayer every Sunday in 1998. Ministering in this community is challenging. Eighty languages are spoken within a mile radius of Uptown Baptist. Millionaires live in one block and public housing is in the next.
When he announced this emphasis on prayer and asked his members to give special attention to prayer by attending prayer meeting on Wednesday night some wondered how this would work out. At first he scheduled one hour, but the people soon insisted on having an hour and a half for the prayer meeting.
As 1998 drew to a close he wrote a report to his congregation on the year of special emphasis. With his permission we are reprinting his report. I have added the sub titles (usually taken from his report) and divided the report into shorter paragraphs for easier reading. Tom's title for this report was THIS KIND OF CHURH ONLY BY PRAYER. Tom is a long time friend of mine and of Bible Prayer Fellowship. Oliver Price.
JESUS KEPT HIS PROMISE TO BE IN OUR MIDST
1998 was a year of seeing a dream fulfilled. My dream was to be a part of a church with a vibrant corporate prayer life. Week after week through this year God has consistently met with us on Wednesday nights. Through all kinds of circumstances and through every season of the year, each week Jesus has kept His promise to be in our midst as we have gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20).
SOUNDS OF PEOPLE CRYING OUT TO GOD
As I look back on 1998, images fill my mind. Of people on their knees with faces down to the floor, of glowing faces with closed eyes that obviously are seeing beyond our material world, of hands lifted to heaven and tear-streaked faces. I hear the sounds of people crying out to God and lifting passionate voices in worship.
WITH JESUS PRESENT IT IS NO LONGER "JUST PRAYER"
This has added a dimension to our church that I have never had the privilege of being part of before. So many churches supplement their prayer meetings with things that often "take over" the meeting (like Bible study or even sharing prayer requests.) Pastors often fear that "no one will come just to pray." And I say, neither would I come! Who needs another meeting consisting of hearing each other engage in a religious activity? Not me!! But add the dynamic of Jesus' presence to that mix and it is no longer "just prayer" but an encounter with the living God!
But it's not just what happens in prayer meeting. It's the woman who received strength to deal with her husband's leaving. It's the young doctor whose spiritual life had become a desert and now streams began to flow in his life. It's the family members or neighbors we've interceded for coming to Christ. Or the people who prayed for jobs and found them. Not every request has been answered already, but so many have.
PRAYING FOR REVIVAL
One of the dominant requests of our praying together as a church is for revival. Not a series of special meetings but a move of God in our church, our community, and our city. Like Habakkuk we are praying: "Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." (Habakkuk 3:2) Certainly we've experienced the Lord's refreshment and His moving in our individual lives and in our church. But we hunger for a greater move of God in and through us. We are passionately pleading with God to sweep in a special way through our church, community, and city with His transforming love and power. Would you join us in seeking God for this to happen?
BECOMING A HOUSE OF PRAYER
As we end this year of focus on prayer, it is obvious that we have a long way to go both individually and as a church in developing as pray-ers. But we feel that God has started us on the track toward becoming a "house of prayer for all nations" (Mark 11:17).
In 1999 we will focus on something else that has sometimes been a casualty of our busyness in ministry: experiencing true community with one another. As we continue to grow in prayer and as we develop the kind of community life that Jesus intends for people to experience in His church, we are expecting that we will have greater impact and fruitfulness in ministry than ever before.
As we stand on the brink of a new millennium, I am convinced that God has a special role for the inner city church to play in His kingdom purposes.
Hold on, we've barely begun to see what God is going to do!!!