Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, but since our church doesn't really adhere to the Christian calendar other than Thanksgiving-Christmas-Easter, there was not much focus on this day. However, I did attend, by myself, the Global Day of Prayer in Atlanta. I was tired as often pastors are on Sunday evenings, and no one I asked seemed to want to go or able to go. However, since I had told people I would go, I did. I drove nearly 45 minutes into downtown Atlanta to the steps of the Georgia state capitol building. I'm glad that I went.
There were a few hundred, maybe a thousand at most, people there. However, this event which was coordinated out of South Africa had over 250 million people (according to the organizers) in nearly every nation of the world were participating in this global prayer meeting on Pentecost Sunday. The crowd was relatively diverse and the music and style of worship were "mildly charismatic." However, it was not the crowd gathered that impressed me, but the time when I gathered with three others around me to pray. The small group I prayed with was especially earnest as we repented of our and our nation's sins. I felt a kinderd spirit with the people I prayed with – an African-American woman who works with the homeless in Atlanta, a Causasian man who coordinates inter-church mercy ministries, and a grey-bearded "southern-man" who looked like General Stonewall Jackson and who loved the Old South (though not the slavery part). My initial discomfort being alone at this event was quickly allevated when we started to lift our hearts to our One Lord in prayer.
As I prayed, I realized that my own prayer life was so weak, so my first thought was one of repentance for my prayerless heart. I realized that there were two things that are needed to pray rightly (and in turn which right praying fosters): 1) a burden and 2) a hope. We cannot pray rightly without a burden for the lost condition of our soul and of our community around us. Unless we are burdened in our hearts for the lost, our prayers become mundane. However, a burden is not enough. We also need hope to pray continually. A burden brings us down to our knees, but hope, true and living hope in a faithful and merciful God, brings us up to our feet. I realized that both my burden and hope in prayer were weak. But as we were praying that is exactly what I asked God for: "Give me a burden for the lost, hurting, wayward souls. And give me a hope that is rooted in the Gospel — a hope that believes in redemption, revival, reformation." I didn't use those exact words, yesterday, but that was the substance of what I was praying in my heart and out loud with my newfound prayer-friends.
A BURDEN and A HOPE IN THE GOSPEL. Are you cultivating these in prayer? Have you become hardened to your own sinfulness and of the world? Do you believe that God can give life to dry bones (Ezekiel 37)?
Thank God for Prayer. Thank God for the Holy Spirit who is still at work today in bringing new life where there is no life. Revive us, O Lord.