Summary: This full text message builds on the ofundation of the message "United In Prayer". It tells more stories of churches which have been totally transformed into spiritual power houses by united prayer.
Together in Prayer
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
May 18, 2008
Last time, in the first part of this message, I told the stories of the birth of the church age, when the Holy Spirit came to live inside of believers. This happened at the end of an extended season of prayer by the 120, who were in the upper room in Jerusalem.
We also looked at some modern day examples of believers banding together in tenacious joint prayer, and how this changed things in their church and even in their city.
We considered the case of the Brooklyn Gospel Tabernacle Church. This place, though surrounded by millions of people, was plateaued at about thirty members when Pastor Jim Cymbala took the reigns there at his Father in Law’s request. After a year of trying hard, visiting in homes, preaching his heart out, and working on the terrible building to make it much better, nothing had changed, except for a few deaths, and attendance was down toward twenty.
Then, in desperation, after resigning and getting talked out of the resignation by his Father in Law, who said that God had showed him that the Cymbalas were the ones to be there, Jim prioritized group prayer above everything else. Soon most of the little band of this church was involved. The Tuesday night prayer meeting became the centerpiece of this little church’s life. It wasn’t long before things began to change.
By 2001, when the World Trade Center went down on 911, it was this church, just two miles from ground zero, across the Brooklyn Bridge, where thousands found shelter, first aid, and prayer ministry.
Today, this church has many thousands of members, a world famous choir, with national recording contracts, and visitors from all over the world. One thing remains the same though, at Brooklyn Tabernacle. The lifeline of the church family praying together, in agreement for God to bless the city, the neighborhoods, and individual situations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ has never varied.
We also looked at the amazing change that came to the whole city of Resistencia Argentina, after pastors in that city began to cry out to God in a united way. This city, which had been the very center of the South American drug trade, was delivered from that by the supernatural hand of God.
It had been so bad in Resistencia at one time in the 1980s that Time Magazine and other did cover stories on it as the drug and murder capital of South America; a place totally ruled by greed, hatred, and terror.
How could rag tag church leaders, with no money or connections to powerful people turn this around? It was simply through mobilizing every available church member, from every Bible preaching church in the city to joint intercessory prayer. At first it was dozens of people, then hundreds, eventually, after a few months, mass conversions started happening, many people were delivered from drug addiction, and soon the soccer stadium was needed for the citywide prayer meeting.
In the meantime, one drug Lord became a Christian. Another, who was threatening Christians, dropped dead, though a young man. The army of Argentina suddenly got serious about this problem in their country too, They found a couple of heavily guarded and hidden drug compounds and took them down with special forces raids, killing and jailing many powerful drug lords.
The murder rate dropped from the highest anywhere, to today’s very low almost zero rate. City officials openly honor God and the church of Jesus Christ, crediting God’s intervention for saving their city.
Now let’s push on.
Read Acts 4:23-37 with running commentary
They understood that private prayer is not enough. Praying together releases God’s power in an amazing degree!
Tell the story of Yoido Full Gospel Church
Founded shortly after the Pentecostal movement started up, this church had been going since about 1912. It was in a storefront, and had about 12 people when Paul Yongi Cho took it in 1958. This was an Assemblies of God church.
Dr. Cho worked very hard, riding his bike all over the neighborhood; inviting people to church and visiting lapsed members. Many promises were made by people but nothing came of it. After two years of this, the young pastor felt burned out and turned to denominational officials who then made excuses. They told him that Korea is different than America. They explained that churches grow big in the US, but they never do in Korea for cultural reasons. They pointed out that the largest church in all of Korea was about 100 people. They told him not to worry about things that cannot change and to just be content.
God taught Dr. Cho a lesson about prayer at this time. (Tell the bicycle story.)