Imagine a Wednesday night prayer meeting lasting 18 hours. That might give you some sense of what happened in Los Angeles at Prayer and Fasting '95, a gathering of Southern Baptists and evangelicals seeking God's face and praying for the world's needs.
Sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ, the meeting drew participants from all over the world and across the denominational spectrum. Rather than a conference on prayer, it was a conference of prayer as the 2,900 participants broke into small groups charged with interceding for themselves, their families, their churches, and then the whole world.
"Everybody really understands what we're here for," says Mike Arrington, with the Baptist Sunday School Board. "It's not to hear speakers; it's not to listen to denominational leaders, but it's to really focus on the Lord and for you to open your own heart to what God has for you."
Prior to the conference, Campus Crusade's Bill Bright said God told him to call 2 million people to 40 days of prayer and fasting. In part, the conference was intended to prime the pump for such an event. Starting on a Thursday at 6 p.m., the meeting ran through Saturday at noon with no breaks except to sleep each night.
Although many nationally known speakers shared throughout the conference, their time was limited, with few exceptions, to 5 minutes. They then lead the prayers through a 15 to 20-minute prayer time concerning a particular issue such as world evangelism, national leadership, disintegrating families or clean hearts among Christians.
"I've been in many, many meetings where people have preached about prayer and talked about prayer but only given the most minute time to prayer," says Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, TN. "I have even presided over some of those meetings and preached some of those sermons, but the people here have no other agenda than to seek the face of God."
Jack Auwetter, a member of Second Baptist in Houston, TX, says he didn't know what to expect in coming to the conference. Diagnosed with leukemia, Auwetter says he's a different person as a result of three days of prayer and fasting: "I want to use my remaining days to serve God to the best of my ability."
Damaris Knobler, a member of Prestonwood Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, says she came because she "was real stressed out and wanted to seek God and commune with Him a few days." Another Prestonwood member, April Bradshaw, found the conference educational in that it showed her, through the breadth of the prayer requests, just how many concerns there were for fervently focused Christians.
As a result of his time in prayer, the Sunday School Board's Mike Arrington says he has a sense of urgency and boldness to live each day for God. He was also deeply impressed that a small group of people, committed to repentance and prayer, can make a difference for the kingdom of God.
Can Revival Come to a Disobedient Church?
The HMB's Darrell Robinson told the Los Angeles prayers that he's been told only about 5% of church members actively share their faith in Christ: "How can we imagine revival coming to a church where 95% of its members are in disobedience to the main thing God has called us to do?" Robinson says there's an estimated 184 million lost people in America.
If that's true, says HMB President Larry Lewis, then America is the 4th largest pagan country in the world. Lewis says 50% of all Americans will live in 44 cities by the year 2000. To reach the lost people in America's cities will require fervent prayer, says Lewis. "I'm speaking about prayer marches, prayer walks, driving through cities and saturating them with prayer. I'm talking about taking the phone book, tearing it up and asking prayer warriors to pray through the lists, and then rotating them with prayer partners."
For further resources
Preparing for the Coming Revival: How to Lead a Successful Fasting and Prayer Gathering by Bill Bright. A guide for setting up a prayer and fasting conference in your local community. Available through NewLife Publications, 100 Sunport Lane, Orlando, FL 32809.