This article was originally published in Edition (7) of Prayer Magazine,  Jul-Sep 2006.

D is for Days of prayer

Every day should be a day for prayer!   But there can in a year be many days for focussed prayer, when many places, churches, Christians and countries can be praying for the same thing on the same day.   In a given calendar year we already have specific days allocated for praying for Education, for hospitals, for the persecuted church, for children at risk, for the media, for mothers and fathers.   There is also a Global Aids Prayer day.   In every year to 2010 we now also have a Global Day of Prayer, when Christians from every nation can unite in prayer on this one day, around the clock, around the throne and around the world – all praying for the nations.  

We also have on our calendars Prayer Week, and periods for prayer (like Lent), and ten days of prayer and fasting from Ascension Day to Pentecost Sunday.   At the prayer centre where I am based we have a day of prayer each month for the county in which we are located, and another for those nations which are predominantly Moslem, and where the church is often small and generally the subject of discrimination and persecution.

But what can a day of prayer look like?   There is no limit!   Try splitting the day into portions, depending on the size of your church or the number of churches participating.   Ask people to nominate to fill every hour of the day (or every quarter of an hour) for prayer, so that between them every hour is covered.   Or you can split the day into various topics according to the burdens God has given you and your church – an hour for family life, another for prodigals, another for missionaries sent out from your area, another for social issues or for outreach projects, another for political leaders, or church leaders, or teachers – the list is endless.   Include an hour for the children to meet and pray, but help to make it creative and interactive for them.   In each situation, provide some visual material to aid prayer – either on paper, or in posters, or on a power point presentation via a computer.   Use prophetic symbolism with objects or flags.   Or have an area where people can draw or paint a picture as they pray.

During corporate times of prayer, change the style of prayer from time to time (silence, small groups, one voice at a time, simultaneous voices).   Change the posture (sitting, kneeling, standing, walking around, laying prostrate).   Use Scripture in prayer, as the Holy Spirit leads.

We have 365 days in a year, so there is plenty room for more.   And nobody has yet exhausted the many creative ways we can pray!

However, God warns us in Isaiah 58.5 not to regard one day only for humbling oneself before God, and fasting.   In other words God is looking for more – for changed lives.   Character is important to Him as we approach His throne-room of grace.   If our praying and fasting ends in quarrelling and strife and in violence, what use is our praying?   So asks God in verse 4.   And one day is insufficient – but it is important if it leads to other days.   And prayer without action is inadequate.   God wants us to put feet on our prayer and help to bring about the changes we pray for

 

D is for Driving

Ever thought of prayer-driving?   That is getting into a car and praying as you drive.   If you are a passenger you may have plenty of time to pray, and, depending on road conditions and the ability of the driver, you may feel compelled to pray!

Often on long car journeys I pray as I go.   “Lord I’ve got three hours to spare, please keep me safe as I drive, but at the same time give me your burdens to pray over”.   It’s amazing how time flies!   But beware of getting too excited as you pray, and definitely keep your eyes open!

But there are other kinds of prayer-driving.   I heard of four men (one is a friend of mine) who used to meet early morning in a car to pray.   They would drive around Gloucester, praying on location as God led them.   The two in the front seat would pray about the needs of the area, whilst the two in the back seat would pray for the two in the front.   They found this so powerful – but they noticed when the two in the back got involved in praying for the area – they felt they were being less effective.   One day they felt led to pray for the exposure of what lay hidden in houses.   Two weeks later Fred West (the serial killer) and the house of horrors was discovered – in the same area where they had prayed that prayer!

Once we went to pray in three separate cars around the streets of an area being targeted by a church for outreach and evangelism.   At the same time another group prayed inside the church.   It was amazing the synergy this kind of prayer produced.   But to do this, those in the car needed to be highly sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.   So we asked God to increase our sensitivity both to the needs of the streets and the people, and to what He saw was necessary for us to be praying.   And He did!  

So many of us spend hours driving around the country.   Let’s redeem the time a bit more.   Put on a worship tape, and then pray as the Lord leads you, or for the villages, towns and cities you pass.   Let’s bring the presence of God into every part of the land.

D is for Dawn

There is something awe-inspiring about the dawn of each new day.   Watching darkness being replaced by light and, as the sun’s rays begin to appear from beneath the horizon, seeing the sun’s influence firstly on cloud patterns, then on the hills and countryside, or city buildings.   It becomes inspirational. 

David, the Psalmist, captures this in Psalm 108 “Awake harp and lyre!   I will awaken the dawn.   I will praise you O Lord among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.   For great is your love higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”   I love to watch dawn appear slowly as the plane I’m in flies across the Alps towards London – it is utterly awe-inspiring, and evokes praise to the God of creation.

But dawn praying is more than that – in at least two ways.

Having a sunrise service is common practice on Easter Sunday morning.   What a way to welcome the resurrected Christ into a new day, a new life and with all the hopes and aspirations that resurrection brings.   But what about an even earlier start on the longest day of the year?   In the northern hemisphere, this falls on summer equinox.   On the day when new-age followers and druids gather at spiritual high places like Stonehenge, why shouldn’t we Christians also gather at high places to both welcome the dawn, praise the Lord of the seasons, and of night and day, and pray against all the sinister influences that are unleashed by those who are not friends of Jesus.

Some years ago we did this across the country in multiple places on mid-summer’s day.   I went to three sunrise services that morning – two on nearby high places, and one in a church.   It was amazing to see hundreds of Christians from many denominational backgrounds come together for these events!   Some started at dawn, but continued until dusk.   It was interesting to see some dramatic answers to prayer, as we prayed over issues to do with the dark side of life afflicting the nation.

The second type of Dawn praying is to do with church planting and mission.   DAWN (Discipling a Whole Nation) is a worldwide movement devoted to church planting and transformation.   It has used the term in relation to many types of praying – all focussed on the harvest field.   So we have Dawn triplets, Dawn treaders (not the CS Lewis book – but prayer-walking local areas), Dawn chains (I wrote about these in the last issue of Prayer magazine), Dawn watchers (those with a watchmen ministry over their town or city) and Dawn Breakers – those with a ‘breakthrough in prayer’ ministry.   These could be classed as the SAS of God’s spiritual air force!   This type of praying contributes to the dawning of new life into those who need Christ, or is focussed on bringing spiritual and social transformation into a community or locality.  

 

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