Blog #54: A Church That is Built on Prayer

By John Cline
Recently, our Tuesday evening Ladies’ Bible Study group watched a video series featuring Pastor Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City. His church is clearly one that prayer built.
A personal aside here: our beloved former Pastor Emeritus the Rev. Dalton Grant loved Jim Cymbala’s messages and would often quote him as well as distribute his books. In any case, back to my blog…
When Jim and Carol Cymbala went to Brooklyn Tabernacle in the early 1970’s, according to Jim Cymbala, “More people were turning to crack than to Christ.” He described the dismal early days in his book “Fresh Wind Fresh Fire”. They had no training for ministry, no money, and only a handful of members. Before long, seeing few victories and feeling personally defeated, the discouraged pastor decided he needed to quit. It was during that dark period he received a distinct and unexpected call from God to lead the people to pray. The next time he was before the church, he told them about his strange call from the Lord to focus on prayer. The following Tuesday night, about a dozen members joined the pastor for prayer. They joined hands, stood in a circle and prayed. Five minutes later, they were finished. They obviously weren’t sure yet how to conduct a prayer meeting but they had taken the first steps. Over the next few years, Brooklyn Tabernacle would become known around the country and around the world as a praying church.
Today, about 10,000 people every Sunday wait in line to attend Brooklyn Tabernacle. The attendance is a miracle, but it doesn’t end there. Carol Cymbala has led the Choir since soon after arriving at Brooklyn Tabernacle. Her original choir consisted of nine people. In spite of not reading music, Pastor Cymbala’s wife Carol has received five Dove Awards, six Grammy Awards and has written hundreds of songs for the now 270-voice choir and for their 28 albums.
How has all of this occurred? Jim Cymbala traces it all to that call from the Lord so long ago to build a praying church, and to make the weekly prayer meeting the most important service of the week. He calls the prayer meeting  “the barometer of the church.” It didn’t start big but it grew. The first Tuesday night prayer meeting of a few members gathered in a circle is now 3,000 people a week crowding into the church to call upon the Lord. The prayer meeting officially begins at 7 p.m. but people start pouring in at 5 p.m. to pray for the prayer meeting!
At our church, McLaurin Memorial Baptist Church, we have many opportunities to pray at different times and with different groups of people, as well as individually for people in their homes. Are you involved in prayer? Please become involved, either with others from the church or in your home. Prayer changes people and situations and is the foundation of how God works in this world. Brooklyn Tabernacle is a church that is built on prayer. We would be wise to follow their example and to be obedient and submissive to the Lord in this matter of becoming a praying person and a praying church. God still hears and answers prayer! Let’s get praying!
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