By design, only New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving interrupt the daily 6 a.m. prayer meetings Pastor David Galvan has held since Feb. 5, 1996, at Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida (New Life Church) in Dallas. The COVID-19 pandemic simply changed the venue.
When COVID-19 restrictions briefly limited gatherings to 10 people months ago, Galvan transitioned the daily prayer hour from the church’s 190-seat chapel to a conference call. Attendance has more than quadrupled.
“All these years up to the pandemic, it attracted from 5 to … 12 people per day, Monday through Friday, and then Saturday, it went up to about 70 that came and prayed,” he said. “We’re averaging 35 to 50 (daily).”
The current concerns of the pandemic, national division and a contentious election cycle have added to the prayer requests during the hour-long meeting, Galvan said. But the current strife has not kept the group from lifting up intentional petitions for national and international missionaries, pregnant mothers, special needs children and adults, prisoners, the president and others in authority, the spiritually lost, workers for the spiritual harvest, the peace of Jerusalem, salvation of Jewish people, and a host of daily personal concerns of participants.
“We’re aware of people that are hurting,” Galvan said. “[W]e’ll just have to pray and let God be sovereign,” Galvan said.
Galvan developed a passion for corporate prayer after attending a series of prayer meetings and fasts hosted by the late evangelist William Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, now Cru, in 1995. After launching the daily prayer meetings at New Life, Galvan instituted a format for the meetings that follows the leading of The Lord’s Prayer.
“I began to see the importance of the model prayer, which is the prayer of the Lord Jesus in the book of Matthew,” he said. “First, I taught that to the church, and the importance of breaking it down, and then, I use that model prayer every day. The first few components of the prayer become, in my mind, the most crucial.”
He begins the prayer meeting with praise, based on “Hallowed be Your Name,” and moves to “Your Kingdom Come,” which encompasses praying for the salvation of the lost, and flows to “Your Will Be Done” and the remaining petitions. Within the hour, he daily incorporates Southern Baptist concerns including the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, the Who’s Your One evangelism initiative and individual missionaries the church supports. On Sundays, Galvan focuses prayers on the psalms.
“There are two days out of the year that we don’t have our morning prayer,” Galvan said. On Thanksgiving, the church holds an annual baptism in an area lake, incorporating prayer into the meeting. On New Year’s Day, the church is in worship and fellowship that begins at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and extends into the early hours of the New Year, including prayer. Other holidays, including Christmas, are included in the daily schedule.
Galvan encourages other pastors to embrace corporate prayer more frequently than on Sundays and Wednesdays.
“It’s not the power of prayer. It’s the power of God through corporate prayer,” Galvan said, citing experiences including the salvation of church members who began to realize they were still lost. “I would encourage them to start and to find the best time when they can bring the church together one way or another in corporate prayer.
“If you can do it in person, do it. If you have to do it by conference call, do it,” he said. “Just do it. And it doesn’t have to be every day, and it doesn’t have to be at 6 o’clock in the morning, but … it’s got to be, number one, extraordinary prayer” that sometimes includes fasting and requires an interruption of the ordinary schedule.
“I would say to every pastor, ‘Do it, even if it starts with just you and your leaders,’” Galvan said. “Or just make an open invitation and say I’m going to start praying at this hour. Just tell them where, and see who comes.
“And by the way, you’re going to be surprised too, at who comes.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ senior writer.)