Summary: During the last ten years, several new expressions of prayer have evolved in the Body of Christ.
PRAYER TRENDS IN THE LAST DECADE
During the last ten years, several new expressions of prayer evolved in the Body of Christ. Notice that I said “Expressions of Prayer.” This meant that Christians have learned different ways to pray more effectively. Technically, we cannot change prayer, nor can we do it a new way. Prayer is simply “talking to God.” However, notice the different ways that we have emphasized prayer in the past 10 years:
1. Prayerwalking. Many people have defined prayerwalking as “praying on site, with insight.” That means prayer is more effective when people go pray at the actual place where they want answers. As an illustration, if you want God to do something for you in City Hall, walk around City Hall, claiming God’s victory. It is more effective to go to a hospital room to pray with a sick person, than to stay home and pray for that same person. Here’s what I have learned from prayerwalking:
a. When you visualize it, you internalize it. You actually visit a place and can see with your physical eyes what you want God to do, not just seeing with your mind’s eyes. You can pray better for that place at that place. That is why we did prayerwalking through the city of Lynchburg. You remember we divided up the city by streets, blocks, asking you to walk around your neighborhood and pray for all the lost people in your area. When you can visualize your neighbor’s house with your physical eyes, you can internalize prayer much better.
b. On site produces commitment. When you actually go to a place, you go for the purpose of praying. You go to that place and pray. Sometimes when you pray in your closet, your mind will wander. But when you go to a specific place with a specific task, you will pray more specifically.
One of our members comes to this auditorium before church every Sunday and prays over every pew in this building. He can pray better for the people who are going to sit in the pews, by walking and touching each pew.
There are two biblical challenges to prayer walking:
“And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are -- northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, [then] your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
“You shall march around the city, all [you] men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long [blast] with the ram’s horn, [and] when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him" (Joshua 6:3-5).
2. Fasting. A second thing that we saw in the past ten years is a renewed emphasis on fasting. While we have always fasted here at Thomas Road Baptist Church, it seems that the entire nation has awakened to the power of fasting. Bill Bright was the first one calling for a national conference on fasting and prayer. This year that conference will meet in Orlando, Florida, and Elmer Towns, Dean, School of Religion, is involved in that conference and speaks at the conference.
Bill Bright was the first one to call for a 40-day fast, ending on Good Friday. Actually, this was not new; the early church practiced fasting for 40 days ending on Good Friday. However, Bill brought a modern day renewal of that practice.
I fasted for 40 days in the summer of 1996, asking God to give us money to pay off the indebtedness of Liberty University. We were faced with losing the University financially, I realized that God had to do a great miracle, so I knew that it would take great spiritual resources, and a great risk; therefore, before I went into the 40-day fast, asking God to give us money. The most interesting thing about that fast was that God did not answer my prayer about money. The more I asked God to give us money, the more the Lord told me, “Seek my heart, not my pocketbook.”