JACKSONVILLE, Fl. – In a meeting with Bob Greene, associational director of missions in Pensacola, Fla., I posed an idea: What about getting several churches in the city to join in a “prayer wave”?
What’s that? Several churches agree to pray for 24 hours, one after another, for as many days as there are churches participating. Each prays for church ministries, other churches, the community, schools and local government. Each prays for whatever needs exist in the community, whatever prayer burdens the Lord gives.
That fall, Pensacola Bay Baptist Association prayed for 40 days, one church after another.
Thomas Bush, coordinator for the San Diego Regional Prayer Network, saw God unite hearts and give ministry creativity and fruit during and after 40-day prayer waves in 2009 and 2010. These times sparked prayer lives and gave new vision to many individuals and churches.
Todd Unzicker, former associational missionary for Holmes Association in Florida encouraged churches to join in prayer waves each February, citing this time as “the key for us as an association of churches.” The Holmes Association covered every minute of the month in prayer.
“Any ‘success’ that our churches saw was because of God and many of us believe that prayer is the conduit by which His power comes into one’s life,” Unzicker said. “It’s the way anyone lays hold of the promises and blessings of God. I’m more convinced as a result of our prayer wave that the absolute highest value in ministry, evangelism and missions is staying attuned to and cooperative with the Holy Spirit. This is prayer. Why not do it together?”
Among associations in Florida that experienced a wave of prayer, three clear results surfaced: 1) a greater unity among pastors and churches, 2) more creativity in ministry and reaching communities and 3) greater receptivity to the gospel and more fruitfulness in ministry.
- In the Brevard Association on Florida’s Space Coast, one creative ministry was an interactive “garden of prayer,” in which several participated. The “garden” led people into confession, praise, intercession, and seeking the Lord. The Seafarer’s Ministry there added a prayer garden to their location and saw several staff from cruise ships come and pray. Many came to faith in Christ.
- In the Harmony Association in central Florida, the Lord gave pastor Travis Hudson an idea adopted in several churches –”777” – to pray for seven lost people seven minutes a day for seven weeks. The association saw many profess faith in Christ.
- In Pensacola, soon after their 40-day prayer wave, several churches had an idea for reaching their communities called “Meet the Church.” On a Sunday afternoon several churches joined together for ministry outside the church walls in the local community and made a significant impact.
A prayer wave is not a silver bullet to answer all needs in ministry, but it is certainly a good tool in the hands of churches. It is a no-budget item that draws people together in the local church and in the community. God uses this to realign their focus on prayer and more specifically on Himself, encouraging people to cry out at new levels. A prayer wave can occur in any location, with many or few.
Like the people of God in Jeremiah 29:7 or the churches in Acts 2, Colossians 4 or 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3, praying together makes a difference. Where people pray, God moves in hearts, homes, churches and communities. A wave of prayer for the works of God, that is the need of the hour.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rick Shepherd is team strategist, for the Prayer and Spiritual Awakening Team of the Florida Baptist Convention.)