What Is A Concert of Prayer?
The term "Concerts of Prayer" comes from the early 1700s, and has been used in subsequent generations to describe major prayer movements preceding new global advances of Christ's Kingdom. In The Eager Feet, Dr. J. Edwin Orr writes:
"The Concert of Prayer for revival in the 1780s in Great Britain and in the 1790s in the United States, and the renewed Concert of Prayer in both countries…was clearly demonstrated to be the prime factor in motivating and equipping Christians for service in a world-wide movement which totally eclipsed the military might of the nations at the battle of Waterloo. As in the first half of the century (the early 1800s), practically every missionary vision (from 1858 onward) was launched by men revived in the awakenings in the sending churches."
Here's one example. A praying businessman, Jeremiah Lamphier started a noontime prayer meeting in 1857 in the Dutch Reformed Church consistory in Manhatten, New York. In response to his advertisement, only six people out of a population of one million showed up. But they weren't discouraged. The next week there were fourteen and then twenty-three. In a few months there were concerts of prayer in scores of U.S. cities. This was the beginning of a God-given prayer movement that became the sustaining foundation for the Great Awakening of the mid-1800's, reviving the Church and resulting in a worldwide missionary advance lasting over 100 years.
Today, God has convinced many that the body of Christ worldwide is on the verge of a wonderful new work of God that will transform their cities, as well as bring the Gospel to some of earth's unreached peoples. Thus, they can do nothing else but pray and call others to join them!
Historically speaking, the primary focus of Concerts has been on two major agendas: Christians prayed for Christ's fullness to be revealed in His Church to empower them to accomplish the task that was before them. They also prayed for the fulfillment of His saving purposes among the nations through an awakened, consecrated Church. The same two-fold agenda prevails today.
And so "Concerts of Prayer" helps describe Christians united on a regular basis to seek fullness and fulfillment. Extraordinary united prayer is not determined so much by how long one prays or how often but rather that Christians do pray, that they pray for those things most on God's heart, and that they do so together - "in concert."
How Does This Relate to World Evangelization?
Billions still wait to hear the Gospel. Most have no one like them near them to tell them. In addition, the immensity, complexity, and urgency of the challenge can create in many of us a paralysis of faith.
But in spiritual awakening God changes this. He brings us face to face with the Lordship of Christ. The Church rediscovers how fully Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. We also discover in new ways that He is the Lord of history, and that He is able to overcome all barriers to His Kingdom’s advance. We view Him as Lord of His Church and Lord through His Church, able to empower us and work through us to fulfill His global cause. And we recognize how fully He is Lord of our own lives, able to work through our lives, without limits, to touch the very ends of the earth.
This discovery brings a decisive devotion to Jesus as Lord that releases us from paralysis of faith and forms the spiritual dynamic behind world evangelization.
At a meeting of world mission leaders, Dr. George Peters appealed, “We have become in missions so wrapped up in technology and methodology that we have forgotten that missions is number one the releasing of divine dynamics. Reaching the unreached will, first of all, mean for us not only to lay hold of it in faith, but to develop thousands and thousands of prayer cells in America and elsewhere that will commit themselves whole-heartedly to prayer until the victory will be won. We need spiritual mobilization.”
What to pray
- For God to be glorified throughout the earth, among all peoples everywhere.
- Tell Him you want this to happen and tell Him what it will mean to you personally when it does.
- That God would receive greater praise in the earth for what He is presently doing in the Church, and especially for all he will do through the Church to reach, salvage and fulfill unreached peoples around the world.
- That Christ’s world mission of love and justice will prevail.
- It is a life or death issue. People without Christ everywhere lack any inheritance in God’s kingdom and have no way to receive His salvation.
- For churches to be planted within every people group on our planet within this generation.
- For new thrusts in world evangelization through the intentional, sacrificial penetration of major human barriers world-wide.
- For an awakened spiritual hunger among the billions (such as Muslims, Chinese, Hindus, Buddhists and secularists) who have yet to clearly learn of Christ. That they may have a new sense of the reality of God and an unavoidable desire to seek Him.
- For Satan to be bound and fully routed within every nation; that Christ’s victory on the cross would break Satan’s hold on peoples and cultures.
- For world leaders and governments, and for the outcome of world events. All of these can directly affect the free course of the Gospel within a nation and within a people group.
- For major global issues which impinge on a world mission thrust. They are part of the moral darkness, which must be pressed back by the planting of responsible communities of disciples among the billions who have yet to hear. Such issues include: global hunger, nuclear proliferation, political and economic oppression, and terrorism.
- For God’s people everywhere to see those nearby whose ways of living differ from them enough to cut them off from the regular witness of the Gospel; for us to see them and reach out to them.
- For specific people groups who are beyond the reach of the Gospel. Ask God to give to churches world-wide the wisdom to know how to reach them.
- That God would raise up hundreds of thousands of new cross-cultural messengers of the Gospel to be sent out in a variety of roles, by churches around the world.
- For those peoples and places where the doors are open for hundreds of more laborers to enter right now. That the doors would remain open and that the workers would soon be found to walk through them.
- For all current efforts to research and formulate mission strategy, so as to effectively train and deploy a new generation of missionaries and self-supporting witnesses.
- For God to raise up a new movement of “senders” world-wide people who know God has called them to send a new force of cross-cultural witnesses and who embrace that assignment with the same vision and sacrifices as those who go.
Suggested Format For A Two Hour Concert of Prayer
Following the pattern of concerts of prayer over the past 250 years, as well as prayer movements emerging nationwide and worldwide today, here is one model of a format for a two-hour Concert of Prayer. The approach provides not only a satisfying experience during a prayer concert, but can be adapted back in the churches, fellowships and ministries from which we come - so that the vision and ministry of united prayer may spread.
Here are title basic components for a Concert of Prayer:
CELEBRATION (10 minutes)
Praise in hymns and choruses, focused on awakening and mission Reports of God’s answers to prayers offered up during previous Concerts Prayers of praise for God’s faithfulness, for His Kingdom, for His Son
PREPARATION (20 minutes)
Welcome to the Concert Overview: Why are we here? Biblical perspectives on what we’re praying toward (i.e. awakening, mission) Preview of the format Teaming-up in partners and in huddles
DEDICATION (5 minutes)
Commitment: to be servants through prayer and to be used in answer to our prayers Thanksgiving: for the privilege of united prayer and for those with whom we unite Invitation for Christ to lead the Concert and to pray through us Hymn of praise
SEEKING FOR FULLNESS / AWAKENING IN THE CHURCH (30 minutes)
In partners - for personal revival In huddles - for awakening in our local churches and ministries As a whole - for awakening in the Church worldwide Pause to listen to our Father Chorus
SEEKING FOR FULFILLMENT/MISSION AMONG THE NATIONS (30 minutes)
In partners - for personal ministries In huddles - for outreach and mission in our city. As a whole - for world evangelization. Pause to listen to our Father Chorus
TESTIMOMES: WHAT HAS GOD SAID TO US HERE? (10 minutes)
On Fullness (awakening) On Fulfillment (mission)
GRAND FINALE (15 minutes)
Offering ourselves to be answers to our prayers and also to live accordingly. Prayer for God’s empowerment in our own lives for ministry. Prayer for prayer movements locally and worldwide. 0ffering praise to the Father who will answer our Concert of Prayer. Leave to watch and serve “in concert”
By David Smithers