Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
N ational P astors' P rayer N etwork
Connecting Leaders for Prayer and City Transformation
NPPN ~ John, this is your first year directing the National Day of Prayer - How did you come to this strategic position and what vision has the Lord given you for its influence on the Church and impact upon our culture?
John ~ While still at seminary, I became a Youth Pastor at a church in Colorado Springs. However, like many pastors, I was bi-vocational. I accepted a position with Focus on the Family where I remained on staff for 10 years when I was asked by Mrs. Shirley Dobson to join the prayer team. At the time I was serving as the Director of Church Outreach under the leadership of H.B. London. It was a tough decision to leave Focus on the Family, but after spending several weeks in prayer, I joined the National Day of Prayer Task Force. It has been an incredible honor to serve in this ministry to our nation.
E.M. Bounds tells us in his study on prayer that the life of the church is the highest life, and its office is to pray. When God's house on the earth is a house of prayer, then God's house in heaven is busy and powerful in its plans and movements. "For mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people" (Isaiah 56:7). The church is the model for families and the foundation for civilization. If the church is not a house of prayer then where is the hope for future generations? Although millions of people will stand in the gap on May 3, 2007, this voice must be continued through the effectual fervent prayers of God's people and it begins where two or more are gathered in His name, His church. The National Day of Prayer Task Force is reaching out to over 92,000 churches in 2007. Our church leaders need a prayer covering and our communities are in desperate need of transformation. The Task Force doesn't have the "fix it" formula, but we will come alongside the church body with the greatest offensive and defensive resource available to mankind…prayer.
It is our vision that through organized church and community efforts, 3 million will unite in prayer on the National Day of Prayer, but more importantly, millions will develop sustained prayer intercessory groups in churches across America. We hear the testimonies and have seen the data showing the power of God move through cities as abortions, divorce and crime have measurably decreased where there is a great prayer movement. Prayer can change our culture. It only takes one to stand in the gap.
NPPN ~ National Day of Prayer has grown dramatically since its inception...
John ~ God has blessed the National Day of Prayer in ways no man can take credit for. Over 6 million people have visited the Web site since April 2006, an increase of 84%. In addition, downloaded content increased 284%. More than 108,000 people were given information on how to have a relationship with Christ through prayer. Of this number, 15,000 people were linked with the Billy Graham ministries to receive the gospel message of salvation. Nearly 2 million people participated in events in 2006 and so far we have seen an increase of 384% in posted events indicating that God's people will turn out in massive numbers this year as well. We have been blessed to have the #78 Nextel Cup car run again at Talladega this year for the Aarons 499 on April 29th. The car will be driven by Kenny Wallace and will feature a complete wrap of red, white and blue and the text National Day of Prayer. In addition, BarlowGirl is touring the country as the 2007 NDP Youth Ambassadors and recently recorded a song for the National Day of Prayer with fellow artists Rebecca St. James, Juan Winans, Point of Grace and more. The song is titled "We Pray" and will be heard on radio stations beginning March 30th. Through partnerships and media exposure, 81 million people will hear about the National Day of Prayer this year.
NPPN ~ In many cities and counties, a church member has the vision, calls pastors, and asks them to participate in a noontime prayer service. How can pastors become more involved in the spreading the impact of NDP throughout their congregation? Into the community?
John ~ We know pastors, church leaders and even volunteers are extremely busy so we have provided easy-to-use tools, guides and downloads that are available on the National Day of Prayer website (nationaldayofprayer.org). Just click on the new church page. There you will find prayer guides, bulletin inserts, sermon notes, small group studies, and more. We provided a link for churches to post their event(s) to leverage our marketing efforts and even list their church in our new directory that will be available throughout the year. Guests are able to look up churches in their area and the Web site provides all the information including a map and link to the church Web site. We have also partnered with award-winning Christian artists, Third Day, to provide a Youth Group DVD kit called Freedom. This kit is available at no cost and will equip your Youth Groups with a high-quality presentation to launch the National Day of Prayer celebration on Wednesday night. Finally, we have also developed a brand new DVD/CD-Rom kit for churches. This kit contains everything you need to prepare for and observe the National Day of Prayer. Having a prayer event on the National Day of Prayer shouldn't be complicated. We wanted to enable you to keep the focus on the main thing and that is prayer. So, we have provided hassle-free resources to simplify the preparation process. Again, we encourage you to review the materials on the NDP Web site, www.nationaldayofprayer.org .
NPPN ~ Pastors' Prayer Groups or gatherings have sprung up across America - What special role could these PPG's play on the NDP?
John ~ I had the privilege of attending a pastor's prayer gathering in Kansas City not too long ago and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life as I witnessed shepherds kneeling before the Almighty. It brought tears to my eyes. There were hundreds in prayer. It was awesome. They had set-up a 24-hour prayer room and I decided to go in at 12:30 a.m. and the room was packed. On the table were buckets filled with prayer requests from other pastors. I picked up a handful of cards and began to read them. The first card was from a pastor who was desperate for prayer as his marriage was falling apart. Another stated that he didn't know if the church could stay open another month because finances were lower than ever. The heartache was real and one cannot deny that our pastors need a great deal of prayer. On the morning of the National Day of Prayer, we are asking that our church leaders assemble, together, in solemn assembly. We have partnered with Claude King and Dr. Henry Blackaby to create a Web page and a step-by-step guide for your solemn assembly. This is also available on our Church page. At this special prayer time, pastors are encouraged to bear one another's burdens and pray for their churches, communities and nation. If the National Day of Prayer can help in anyway to grow Pastor's Prayer Groups, we will have considered the ministry a success. Of our goals, nothing is greater in my mind than encouraging pastors to unite in prayer.
NPPN ~ What challenge would you give to Pastors? ... Church Prayer Coordinators? ... Men and Women in the marketplace? (Business, education) ...
One thing I have really learned in this prayer ministry is to get back to the heart of worship; to dig deeper in my prayer life and spend more time on my knees. Prayer is simply the expression of faith. Prayer and holy life are one. They mutually act and react. Neither can survive alone, for the absence of one is the absence of the other. The deep things of God are learned only in prayer. Our whole being must be in our praying. John Knox said, "Give me Scotland, or may I die." Where is this kind of passion in our prayer life? We must pray with all perseverance – Ephesians 6:18.
Our goal through prayer must be to know God better, to experience the fullness of relationship. Through prayer we honor Him. It is not about what God can do for us but what we can do for God. If we fail to cry out to Him, to praise Him, the rocks will (Luke 19:40). I don't know about you but I have no intention of allowing rocks to do the praising on my behalf.
I would really challenge you to reexamine what your intentions are in prayer. Paul said, "For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly. And that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection; and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death" Philippians 3:10 AMP.
King David said, "Oh God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land, where there is no water" Psalm 63:1 NIV. God designed us to thirst for Him. It is a thirst that many try to quench with physical desires which is a never-ending quest with no resolve. "Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."" John 4:13-14
Our challenge is to walk deeper with the Lord in the prayer closet and to spend time with Him no matter how busy our day might be. We should consider the words of Martin Luther, "work, work, from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." Communion with God should be the most important task on our agenda. If we fail to cultivate this discipline, we will never fully understand what intimacy with the Almighty is all about.
NPPN ~ John, please write a prayer that praying pastors could pray with you for a sweeping impact through the National Day of Prayer...
John ~ Our Honorary Chairman, Dr. Charles Swindoll wrote an incredible prayer for our nation this year. I hope we all can read it together on the National Day of Prayer:
Almighty God, we pause to reflect on Your character as we seek wisdom for such a time as this.
In these unsafe days, You remain all-powerful and able to protect;
In these uncertain times, You remain all-knowing, leading us aright;
In the unprecedented events we're facing, You remain absolutely sovereign. Our times are in Your hands.
Therefore, our dependence on You, is total, not partial
. . . our need for Your forgiveness is constant
. . . our gratitude for Your grace is profound
. . . our love for You is deep.
We ask that You guard and guide our President and all who serve the people of these United States.
May uncompromising integrity mark their lives. We also ask that You unite us as truly "one nation, under God." May genuine humility return to our ranks. And may that blend of integrity and humility heal our land.
In our Lord's name we pray, Amen.