We would all say that prayer is powerful and hopefully, we all want it to be a main focus in our churches, but I don’t think I really understood the power of prayer until I went to the mission field. During my ten years of service in South Asia, I learned a lot about the power of prayer. Surrounded by masses of lost people and seeing the zeal of other believers, the Lord helped me learn more about the power of prayer. I saw a greater desire to pray and greater devotion to prayer and fasting, and the many answered prayers that came from it. It totally changed my heart and devotion to pray.
The Lord called our family from the South Asian mission field in 2016 for me to serve as the senior pastor of our home church, Maysville Baptist, in Buckingham County. I wanted to apply what I’d learned about prayer on the mission field to pastoring my home church. In January of 2019, we felt the Lord leading us as a body to pray and fast for seven days. This was not something we had done before and why seven days I can’t tell you. In the first 24 hours of this focused prayer time, members of the body signed up for a specific hour of this 24-hour period so that we prayed together for 24 hours continuously. Our focus last year was very broad. We set up seven prayer stations to go through, starting with a focus on our personal walk with the Lord and then our work with the Lord, the body at Maysville, our community, our state, the US, and the world. Each station was filled with specific facts and statistics for each prayer focus and prayer request for how to pray accordingly. We then prayed through a prayer guide together all week and then joined together for a meal to break the fast with celebration and expectation about joining God in what He was doing.
As we prepared to have another prayer and fasting time in January 2020, we looked back over the last year and realized that God had answered many of our prayers. God allowed us to see spiritual growth in our lives, more love for each other, and greater unity in the body. The Lord opened a door for us to minister in our community through Good News Club at our local elementary school, and many other new opportunities to share the Gospel with people in our community. The Lord opened a door for us to partner with other SBCV churches and lead out in reaching UUPG’s in South Asia. So, as we prepared for this year it was with great excitement and expectation for what the Lord may lead us in this year.
But this year the Lord led us to narrow our focus to our community. We only had four prayer stations that focused on our walk and work, the body, and the county of Buckingham. We either met personally with or talked directly to our local sheriff’s office, county administration, health department, social services, school superintendent, and with the principles of each school. This gave us the opportunity to get real-time prayer requests from those in our community that daily face real hard issues. The statistics we acquired helped us really see the issues that our community deals with and this gave us a greater heart of love and compassion for our community and what others are dealing with. We learned that our county had the highest rate of reported child abuse than any other surrounding county. This gave us great insight into how to pray. We had no way of knowing a pandemic was coming, but the Lord knew and He was helping us prepare for it. That time of prayer and fasting made us aware of the issues that might be heightened during this time of crisis. It gives us better insight into how we can pray and serve our community during this time of crisis. The time of prayer was also a time of renewal of the mind and revival of the heart and this has helped the body stay strong during this time of not having life on life community with the body, it has helped us be flexible as we look for other ways to grow strong in the Word and reach the lost of our community.
Westly Yoder is senior pastor of Maysville Baptist Church in Buckingham, Va.