Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The 100 Year Prayer Meeting

We are getting ready for a week of prayer here in East Grinstead. Wherever you are around the world as you read this blog, let this account from Pete Greig's 'Red Moon Rising' stir your heart again.

'The year is 1727 & the summer sunshine is flooding through the windows of a country church near Dresden, Germany, where a community of refugees has gathered to share communion. The bread & the wine are especially meaningful to this particular group, who have known their fair share of bursting veins & broken bodies.

Just five years earlier they had fled across the Austrian Alps under fierce religious persecution, hounded by the Counter Reformation away from their homes & livelihoods. Leaving Moravia in search of a new beginning, this rag-tag mix of politically incorrect misfits had been granted permission to settle here in Saxony on the estate of a 22 year old aristocrat called Count Nikolaus Von Zinzendorf. Here they hoped to build a truly Christian community, peacefully united around the bible alone.
But five years later we find this new Jerusalem torn by small minded discontent. The Moravian refugees have spent half a decade competing, disagreeing & dividing. The body is well & truly broken & Zinzendorf, now 27, has had enough.
That's why he's gathered them here today in the church at Bethelsdorf, insisting upon apologies all round. And now, finding themselves forced to reflect on the broken body on the cross & the broken body of their community, hard hearts are softening. One at a time, people stand, some with tears running down their cheeks, to confess sinful attitudes & express forgiveness.

And that was the moment it all began; the movement that would somehow rewrite the history books of the next three centuries. There in that village church on 13th August 1727, the Spirit of God moved with such power in the repentant hearts of those Moravian dreamers that they began to pray like never before & continued without a break for more than a hundred years.
A moment of grace had given momentum to a movement for change which would re-landscape much of the Western world right up to the present day. Tucked away in the immaculate village of Hernnhut, where modern day Germany meets Poland & the Czech Republic, those Moravians quietly determined that the flame of God's presence should 'be kept burning on the altar continuously' without ever being allowed to go out. (Leviticus 6.13) And so they organised themselves to keep 'the watch of the Lord', praying in one hour shifts around the clock as the very heartbeat of their community.

As they maintained that flame of intercession, the fire of their own prayers consumed them. The Moravians soon found themselves burning with passion for those without Jesus, compelled by His great commission & His great compassion simply to go. And so in 1732, after five years of continuous prayer, Zinzendorf, the young leader of the Moravians at Hernnhut, quietly commissioned the first great missions thrust of the Reformation.
Moravians quickly spread out all over the known world, propelled by that incredible prayer meeting, preaching the gospel wherever they went, often at great personal cost. Two members of the community even volunteered to sell themselves into slavery so as to carry the gospel to the plantations of the West Indies.
When an unknown clergyman named John Wesley was converted through the joyful witness of Moravian missionaries on a transatlantic ship in a storm, he headed off to Hernnhut straight away for discipleship from Zinzendorf.' Red Moon Rising - The story of 24-7 prayer. Survivor

Just as the French & the English never intended to skirmish for 100 years when they began fighting, nor did the Moravians have a clue what their prayer passion would lead to. What will emerge as we humble ourselves again this week? Robert Speers is right when he says, 'The Evangelisation of the world depends first upon a revival of prayer.'
Will you join us in getting back on our knees & lifting our hands & voices to the King? Surely a week asking God to overrule in this lost world for good is not a week wasted?