What does it look like for First Broad Street to become a true house of prayer?
One of the most important narratives in all of Scripture is the redemption of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. After up to 430 years as slaves, the Hebrew people must have felt like God had abandoned them- they were desperate! Desperate for hope, desperate for justice, desperate for mercy. Yet for hundreds of years, their prayers went unanswered. At some point, their prayers changed. They changed from spoken intellectual words to groans from the depth of their spirits. It is at this point that “God heard their groaning and remembered his covenant” (Exod. 2:23).
Hannah in desperation for a child, cried out to God to the point where those around here thought she was drunk: “I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:15).
In Matthew 20 we read of two blind men who called out to Jesus for help, and the crowd rebuked them. Upon the crown telling them to shut up, instead of being quiet, they “shouted all the louder” (v.31). It was then that Jesus called to them and answered their prayer.
Scripture after scripture, psalm after psalm, tell of the story of travailing prayers being prayers that are most heard by God. David Thomas has proclaimed that “the Bible seems utterly unfamiliar with casual prayer: prayer of the mouth and not the heart” (To Sow for a Great Awakening, Seedbed Publishing, 2016. 14). Lets read that once again, “the Bible seems utterly unfamiliar with casual prayer: prayer of the mouth and not the heart.”
How much longer must we wait for us to become desperate in our prayers? how much longer must we wait for us to begin praying audacious prayers? How much longer must we wait for us to see the urgency at hand? How much longer do we need to wait to see that our human solutions are as broken as they have ever been? How many more black men must be shot? How many more police officers must give their lives? How many more politicians must give empty promises before we realize there is only one thing that can save us, and it is the name of Jesus Christ! How much longer do we have to wait for us to wake up?!
The church argues over the ridiculous, when we have the potential to change the world. Changing the world does not mean increased worship attendance. Changing the world does not mean trying to get increased giving with the threat of the death tsunami of in churches upon us. Changing the world does not mean coming to church to sit and listen to music and a sermon. Changing the world is truly bringing the kingdom of heaven on earth- Where justice and mercy and grace reign supreme. And guess what? We have been called to change the world!! If you are like me, that charge of changing the world seems too large to overcome, completely impossible in this broken world full of hatred. However, scripture reminds me of Jehoshaphat crying out, “We have no power to face this vast army, but our eyes are on you [God]” (2 Chron. 20:12).
Will you join me in putting your eyes upon God? In crying out to God? In groaning for God’s attention? I am praying for an awakening at First Broad Street. I am praying for a revival in Kingsport, TN. David Thomas precisely points out, “travailing prayer is not the only thing we do. But it is the first thing, and the most important thing” (26). Join me as we seek to see how God would have us pray for this great awakening that is surely upon us.