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Until Jesus Comes

Praying 24/7

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“If it can be done for a minute, it can be done for an hour. If it can be done for an hour, it can be done for a day. If it can be done for a day, it can be done for a week. If it can be done for a week, it can be done for a month. If it can be done for a month, it can be done for a year. Let it be done until you return. Amen!”

These words were entered in the prayer journal at Building on the Rock Community Church (BOTR) at the same time that our pastor, Bob Nash, was called by God to challenge the congregation, already steeped in prayer, to take their commitment to a new level. Brian, the writer, is one of many new believers at BOTR who are responding to the counsel of the Holy Spirit though prayer.

Our congregation was already familiar with the power of prayer; it had been woven into BOTR’s DNA from the church’s birth. When BOTR was planted, we placed a large wooden cross in front of the building and posted our prayer hotline number on a billboard near the church. The core values of the C&MA, especially prayer and evangelism, were heavily emphasized from the pulpit and in our dealings with one another.

About four years ago the vision for a month long, 24-hour prayer event was introduced at a staff meeting. With cautious excitement, the idea was presented to the congregation on Sunday morning. This was revolutionary to most people’s concept of prayer as a private rather than a corporate activity, so the total commitment to this endeavor fell short. Pastor Bob and his family were frequently called to cover shifts, but they did not allow that to hinder the progress of prayer. As a church, we pressed on with 24-hour prayer events four times a year.

After two years, Pastor Bob was challenged by Luke 18:8b: “ʻWhen the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’” Pastor Bob determined in his heart that faith would be found on Beckerville Road (the location of BOTR). He prayed about proposing to our church that we pray 24 hours a day for one year. Pastor Bob wrote in the prayer journal: “Help me to communicate clearly Your vision for prayer for Your church. Help me to cut it so we, not I, are all part of it.”

Brian was on the prayer shift from midnight to 4 a.m. on January 20, 2009. “. . . If prayer is our ‘work’ as Christians, then there is no question as to whether or not we should continue our prayer shifts for a year,” he wrote without knowing what Pastor Bob had been praying about. “If it can be done for a minute, it can be done for an hour. . . Let it be done until you return. Amen!”

After reading Brian’s entry, Pastor Bob presented to our church family the challenge of praying continually until Jesus returns. He shared what God had spoken to his heart and confirmed in Brian’s. Our adventure had begun—though some people were concerned about engaging in such an enormous undertaking.

On January 27, 2009, the sanctuary was aglow. Brian was deeply involved in worship and prayer, fulfilling a four-hour prayer shift. He wrote in the journal: “Lord, I pray You ease the minds of those who are concerned about this year of prayer. Jesus, fill their hearts with the excitement that You have placed in mine. I pray, Lord, that we have multiple members of BOTR at every shift. God let this year of prayer wake up our mission field: New Jersey, America, the world! Thank you, Jesus, for every member of this church. If it were not for everyone here, I might not have been saved! Through them I have come to know you. . . .”

In February our family of believers celebrated our second year of 24-hour prayer. Pastor Bob and his family are no longer shouldering the majority of the prayer shifts. We have men’s prayer, women’s prayer and military prayer, to name a few. There are 14 groups engaged at present, and our goal is that every prayer shift will be owned by a group.

Prayer has become an integral part of everything we do as a Body of Christ. The prayer hotline has generated many questions from the curious public. Some people have been led to Christ over the phone, and others have asked for directions to the church. New Christians now comprise 80 percent of BOTR, which has nearly 700 inclusive members.

One gentleman wanted to know what was attracting his daughter and her family to the church, so he came to a Sunday service and signed up for a prayer shift. While reading the Bible during his shifts and attending Sunday services, he accepted Jesus as his Savior. Now he invites others to join him in prayer.

All new Christians are encouraged to be part of a prayer shift that fits their time schedule. We encourage our people to press into God and discern His will for their lives through prayer. Two young men who have been involved in our prayer shifts are interested in ministerial studies at Nyack (N.Y.) College. A church plant was recently launched by one of our men in the New Egypt area (Ocean County, N.J.), with a Sunday morning meeting and a prayer meeting during the week.

In the future, we want a section of our prayer corner to contain a computer where our prayer warriors can contact international workers and pray for their specific needs.

Achieving God’s purposes means taking faith-filled risks. This always involves change is one of the core values of The Alliance. Another is Prayer is the primary work of God’s people. At BOTR, we are being changed through prayer.

After Pastor Bob read to us a passage from Genesis describing pillars of remembrance, we began placing decorated rocks at the foot of the cross as BO TR’s remembrance of God’s presence and work in our lives. The rocks are collected and washed weekly. The person preparing the rocks prays for the prayer warriors who will be covering the prayer shift, which involves taking calls from the hotline, praying for the caller and writing the prayer request on small pieces of paper that are then pinned to our prayer board. The prayer warrior documents the prayer shift in a journal, recording the date, the name or names of the person on duty, the hours included in the shift, the prayer requests addressed and answers to prayer, a Scripture passage and how God spoke to them. The person decorates a rock with the date and time of the prayer shift and places it at the foot of the cross.

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