That would be us.
I am meeting with a group of fellow pastors for the next three days struggling together to become better pastors and leaders for the cause of Christ. One pastor had a particularly thorny issue that he is embroiled in and was seeking wisdom. One by one different pastors asked questions, made suggestions, encouraged, supported and prayed for this brother. Eventually, one very discerning pastor, an Ethiopian ministering to refugees in Atlanta offered the perspective that for this particular pastor and his situation, lengthy prayer and fasting might be in order.
I suspect that prayer and fasting is a greater need in almost every problem in the church at every point in its history. We tend to forget that spiritual warfare is relentless and our greatest resource is often our last and least used weapon.
Prayer and fasting.
But to pray and fast one has to first believe in prayer. And I’m not sure our generation does.
Previous generations, before the advent of the whole church growth movement, seemed to have a deeper reliance and belief in prayer. Somehow in the desire to “organize”, and “prioritize”, and “maximize”, and “programitize”, and “schedule”, and “train”, and “develop”, and “strategic initiative”— all the language of the church growth movement and mostly borrowed from business paradigms — we lost our dependence and practice of prayer.
But it is prayer, along with preaching, that was the priority of the first church leaders and what ought to remain as our primary duties (Acts 6:2).
Maybe we need to go back and rediscover the men and women who went before us and through whom God did such mighting things through the simple innovation (sic) of believing prayer. One of those challenges for me is the story of David Wilkerson and the biographical account of THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE.
“There is a particularly amazing account of Wilkerson, which occurred in the summer of 1959 when he preached at a convention that he and some other local ministers had created for the gangs. It was the last night of the convention, and the most violent gangs had shown up to hear what Wilkerson had to say, but mostly to be entertained. After twenty minutes of unsuccessful preaching, the crowd deemed Wilkerson’s words impossible and began to provoke each other to fight. Wilkerson stopped speaking and prayed for three, solid minutes that the Holy Spirit would come. Before the third minute passed, the entire crowd was silent, and then teens began crying and approaching the front to accept Christ.
The gang that had given Wilkerson the most trouble followed its leader to the front, and every member became a Christian. After the convention ended, that same gang spent several hours reading their newly acquired Bibles before bringing the Bibles down to the police precinct for the officers to sign. The officers were so dumbfounded that they called Wilkerson early the next morning and asked him to come down to the police station. Even Wilkerson was speechless!”
(Karios Journal: You can read the fuller account in The Cross and the Switchblade on pages 91-96.)