The Best Resource We’re Not Using: Prayer
By Joshua Choonmin Kang
A pastor shares how his church did away with programs and got back on their knees to tap the ultimate resource-the enabling power of God.
Every morning, just as the sun is rising, I kneel in prayer with thousands of my church members. During this time of daybreak prayer, the Holy Spirit imbues my faith and spirit with joy and allows me to receive and experience the love of God. Prayer is essential to me as I discern God’s plan for my ministry. As the senior pastor of 4,100-member Oriental Mission Church (OMC; omc.org) in Los Angeles, I rely daily on the wellspring of God’s power that comes through prayer. Through our prayer ministries, I believe we are using the most powerful instrument for soul-saving evangelism, because what this generation needs most is not programs or strategies for successful evangelism, but the prayers of a righteous Church.
Beauty From Ashes: The Revival Of Oriental Mission Church
When I became the senior pastor of Oriental Mission Church in 2001, I discovered a disillusioned and broken congregation that had suffered through 10 years of turmoil before my arrival. The congregation had split twice and two senior pastors had come and gone in a short amount of time, leaving the congregants suspicious of new leadership. As the new senior pastor, I desired healing, recovery and revival for this deeply wounded church. More than anything, I wanted the church to become a healthy congregation, and I knew that prayer was the key ingredient for this vision.
Upon being installed as the senior pastor, I announced that we would hold 21 days of daybreak prayer services that began at 5:20 am every day. I told the congregation that during these hour-long prayer services, we would simply ask the Holy Spirit to heal and empower our church so that we could grow in faith and numbers.
At the first daybreak prayer service, 1,200 people showed up. Over the next 20 days, the number of people attending the service increased until the church could not hold any more people. At 4:30 a.m., a traffic jam would surround our church as people came from all over seeking to praise and worship with fervent and powerful prayers. By the end of the 21-day campaign, our congregation had undergone great healing, recovery and restoration through their prayerful repentance and devotion. It was a true revival!
Today, OMC averages 4,100 attendees each Sunday, and sup-ports 36 sister churches and 57 different ministries throughout the world. Since our church’s revival, we have maintained our passion for prayer through three key prayer ministries: daily daybreak prayer meetings, intercessory prayer and outreach prayer.
Before Sunrise: Daybreak Prayer
Currently, OMC holds daybreak prayer meetings every morning at 5:20 a.m., and every December, we observe a special 21-day stretch of daybreak prayer meetings which we encourage all of our church members to attend. During those days, 1,200 to 1,500 people come together to pray every day. We also hold overnight prayer meetings every Friday, and the sounds of faithful prayer warriors laying their lives down in prayer for the church can be heard throughout the hallways of our building. Indeed, our church was revived through daybreak prayer and continues to thrive through our early morning prayer meetings, a method we first learned from the Bible and in Church history.
In Mark 1:25, we see Jesus praying in a secluded place very early in the morning while it is still dark. Dedicated Christians who follow this example of Jesus are all people of prayer. We see this same pattern of early morning prayer throughout Church history. For instance, John Wesley, the leader of the Methodist church, started his days with at least two hours of prayer, beginning his time of prayer as early as 4 a.m. One of Wesley’s closest friends once observed that Wesley valued prayer more than any other ministry. Wesley himself wrote in a letter to Alexander Matwher on August 6, 1777, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergy or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth.”
Martin Luther, the German theologian and leader of the Reformation, was also a man of prayer, believing that “if [I failed] to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil [would get] the victory through the day.” Luther claimed that he could not “get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” These two Christian figureheads, and many other faithful brothers and sisters throughout the history of the Church, have taught us the importance of starting the day with a foundation of prayer.
Finally, the practice of daybreak prayer is part of Korean Church history. The year 2007 marked the 100th anniversary of Pyongyang’s Great Revival of 1907. At that time, the members of Jang Dae Hyun Church in Pyongyang, Korea, began meeting for daybreak prayer every day at the prompting of the church’s elders, Ghil Sung-joon and Park Chi-rok, who saw the indifference of the city’s Christians and went to the church early in the morning to pray. A few days later, other church members came to pray with the two elders, and within a week, the 700 congregants were gathering every morning at 4:30 a.m. to pray for the city. Many scholars cite the Pyongyang Revival as the beginning of the Korean church, and we have continued the practice of daybreak prayer since.
Tapping Power Lines: Intercessory Prayer
I often say that for OMC, intercessory prayer is the nuclear power station of our church. A nuclear power station generates tremendous amounts of power despite its relatively small size. Likewise, the small group of intercessory prayer warriors provides the church with huge amounts of spiritual power. I believe that intercessory prayer ministries make churches healthier and stronger. Intercessory prayer also prepares the church for victory in spiritual warfare.
To build our base of prayer warriors, we facilitated a series of intercessory prayer seminars to recruit our church’s prayer warriors. By calling church members gifted in ministering with prayer and empowering them to serve more effectively through these teaching seminars, we built up our prayer team to 30 intercessory prayer warriors who gather to pray for every Sunday service.
Furthermore, 0MC is currently facilitating a 24-hour, nonstop relay prayer ministry in which prayer warriors sign up to pray for the church during specific hours of the day. By ensuring that someone is praying for our church at every hour, we can rest assured that the prayers of the saints are building a protective spiritual hedge around us. We also established four intercessory prayer rooms for people to access and pray in private at any hour the church is open. On the door of each of these prayer rooms is a box where members can drop in prayer requests for anyone who might enter the room. The results of our intercessory prayer meetings are amazing. God answers our prayers through revival and healing, and I truly believe that without an intercessory prayer ministry, our church would not continue to grow.
Soul Saving: Outreach Prayer
Finally, we must not forget that prayer is the most powerful instrument for soul-saving evangelism. The Kneeling Christian (Zondervan), by an unknown author, reminds us that the fruits of evangelism will come only in the form of answers to our prayer ministry. The story goes like this:
A lady in India was cast down through the failure of her life and work. She was a devoted missionary, but somehow or other conversions never resulted from her ministry. The Holy Spirit seemed to say to her, “Pray more. ” But she resisted the promptings of the Spirit for some time. `At length,” she said, “I set apart much of my time for prayer. I did it in fear and trembling lest my fellow workers should complain that I was shirking my work. After a few weeks I began to see men and women accepting Christ as their Savior. Moreover, the whole district was soon awakened, and the work of all the other missionaries was blessed as never before. God did more in six months than I had succeeded in doing in six years. And,” she added, “no one ever accused me of shirking my duty.”
Through this story we see that God will do much more through us when we pray rather than try to evangelize through our own strength, a truth we also see demonstrated through the “One Million Souls” movement begun in Korea in 1909, just two years after the Pyongyang Revival.
Begun as an extension of the earlier revival movements, the “One Million Souls” movement began when the Korean Southern Methodist Church held its annual conference in September 1909 and called the Korean Church to witness to as many people in the nation as possible. From 1909 to 1910, this aggressive campaign persisted, with participants passing out several million copies of outreach handouts and 700,000 copies of the gospel of Mark. Thousands of Korean Christians established altars of prayer for the success of the movement. According to a report by the Korean Missions Department of the North American Presbyterian Church, more than 32,509 people were baptized in one year, and 26,981 people completed the baptism preparation class. The report estimates the total number of new believers in that single year alone was 59,490 people, among which 25,053 people were registered members, 23,892 were ready to be baptized, and 48,945 confessed their faith by the year 1909. Without prayer, these astounding numbers would not have been possible. Recently, a member at our church attested to this same principle.
In summer 2007, after participating in our church’s evangelism training program, Lee Hee-ik visited Korea to share the Gospel with his 18 in-laws in the wake of the sudden death of his sister-in-law. He hoped to deliver the Gospel to them in just two weeks, despite feeling in the back of his mind that two weeks was not enough time. However, he prepared himself with prayer before he left and during those two weeks, he managed to share the Gospel with 17 out of the 18 people, the only exception being his nephew, who was in the military service at that time. Among those Lee shared with, 14 accepted Christ as their Savior. He later told me that the key to his evangelism was persistent prayer for their souls and the sincere intercession made by his small group members.
God operates the world though the prayers of His people. God seeks prayer warriors and helps them at the break of dawn, as it says in Psalm 46:5. God seeks a person of faithful prayer like Daniel. We need not better programs or strategies, but more prayer. And even more prayer. We need faithful prayer. Persistent prayer.
Let me emphasize again: Prayer is the most powerful weapon for saving souls. It is the most influential instrument for rescuing souls captured by the enemy. Only through prayer can God’s people heal. Only through prayer can God’s Kingdom expand. Only through prayer can lost souls return to the Lord. Let us all wake up and pray together. God, we pray that you would raise up your prayer warriors.
This article “The Best Resource We’re Not Using: Prayer” written by Joshua Choonmin Kang is excerpted from Outreach Magazine the January/February 2008 edition.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”