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How About Starting the New Year with Prayer?

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As I look back on 2012, I remember several instances where it seemed like the end of the world was just around the corner. There was even a movie anticipating this event in 2012 (based on a myth and a misinterpretation of the Mayan long-count calendar). There were wars going on in several parts of the world (e.g., Afghanistan and Sudan); rumors of war in the Middle East (conflict reignited between Israel and Hamas over the Gaza Strip and Syria’s civil war intensified) and natural disasters in which many lost their lives (i.e., hurricanes Isaac and Sandy ravaged the islands of Cuba, Haiti and the southern and eastern seaboards of the United States, and tornadoes rampaged across the country). In Africa we saw the continued onslaught of AIDS, drought and famine—and we can go on into hopeless despair.

Nevertheless, we are still here because God our Father has not yet seen fit to send Jesus back to earth. Therefore, not losing our hope, we must hold fast to the promise of our “Coming King” and redouble our efforts to ensure that “this gospel of the kingdom” be communicated in the whole world as a testimony of His saving grace—“and then the end will come”(Matt. 24:14).

The C&MA worldwide fellowship of churches must continue its forward march, in step with the rest of God’s global church, to push back the darkness, assaulting even the gates of hell—because our orders as outlined in Matthew 28:18–20 are still in effect. As we sense the day of our Lord’s return approaching we need to pray more in 2013—even more than in 2012. But about what? I strongly encourage our corporate prayers to focus on at least two things:

1. Asking God to have “[His] kingdom come, [His] will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). In order to pray this, we need to grow in our understanding of God’s will “as it is in heaven.” The Book of Revelation stirs our minds with many word pictures of the unveiling of God’s will, but there is one scene (7:9–17) that grips my imagination like no other. It describes the “multitude in white robes,” so great that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.

Should we not be praying that this part of God’s will be done here on earth as well—in our local churches, district conferences and, above all, at the coming General Council 2013? There is a heightened awareness of spiritual power when we gather with others to pray—as a family, a small group or a church, even at work or at the park—for God’s will to be realized in our midst. As often as we can in 2013 we should unite with others to pray that our 125-year-old movement would become even more effective in reaching all people with the saving power of the gospel, within and beyond our borders.

2. Asking “the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matt. 9:38). We need to be more diligent in our “asking” because the task is too large to complete at current levels of involvement. Let’s refocus our corporate prayers so as to move God to send the greatest revival our movement has ever seen. We must encourage our young and old, men and women, resident or newly arrived—everyone within our sphere of influence—to reply to God’s bidding with the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Here am I. Send me!” The fields are ready for harvesting; let us raise our voices and ask God to send out more workers from our own local churches, our very own families . . . yes, even ourselves.

A core value of our movement states that “prayer is the primary work of God’s people.” As we begin this New Year, please join me in asking God to revive us and our movement, our people, our churches, our pastors, our missionaries, our leaders.

O God, listen to the prayers of your people . . . for your honor and glory, in Jesus name. Amen!

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