It has been good to see that the ‘Concert of Prayer’ for revival across the UK, now into its fourth year, has generally maintained a wider, global vision. Prayers have not focussed merely on our own needs in this country, and that is right and proper.
Let’s never forget that our concern should be a global one — for the expansion of the kingdom of God worldwide. If we become merely parochial in our concern, we may grieve the Spirit whose passion is to see Jesus Christ honoured to the ends of the earth.
Whether or not that global vision comes explicitly to the fore in our prayers on any particular occasion, it must always be part of our mind-set.
There are two international elements, significant to the present Concert of Prayer, that are worth highlighting. First, I have been in contact with a brother minister from the USA, who learned about the Concert of Prayer in the UK. He has been holding an annual, three-day Convocation of Prayer for revival at his church in Mississippi, since 2010.
He was keen to know the origin, history and burden of the UK Concert of Prayer, in the hope that there might be some linkage between our meetings and theirs, ‘for the sake of mutual encouragement for such meetings around the world’.
I have been able to send him relevant information. Their convocation this year takes place from 18-20 February.
Second, the co-ordinator of the Concert of Prayer in Kent became aware of a Call to Prayer in the USA, issued on the final Lord’s Day of 2013, by Dr Michael Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Director of the Andrew Fuller Centre for Baptist Studies.
Dr Haykin notes that this year of 2014 marks the 230th anniversary of the Call to Prayer for Revival issued by the churches of the Northamptonshire Baptist Association, in England. The call was to one hour of prayer on the first Monday of each month.
Dr Haykin recognises that, in this anniversary year, the USA is in need of such a call to prayer. He urges the Christians of America to commit themselves to pray for exactly what the Baptists of the English Midlands prayed for in 1784: ‘that the Holy Spirit may be poured down on our ministers and churches, that sinners may be converted, the saints edified, the interest of religion revived, and the name of God glorified’.
‘Who can tell?’
Dr Haykin quotes John Sutcliff, who said this about that previous Call to Prayer: ‘Who can tell what the consequences of such a united effort in prayer may be! Let us plead with God the many gracious promises of his Word which relate to the future success of his gospel’.
We now know that part of the answer to the prayers of God’s people, 230 years ago, was the explosion in missionary effort and expansion worldwide, sometimes known today as the ‘nineteenth century/modern missionary movement’ (involving Adoniram Judson, William Carey, David Livingstone and many others).
Let us be praying that the Lord would have regard for the honour of his own name and for the glory of his beloved Son, and again pour out his Spirit in such abundance that there may be a new impetus of gospel expansion to the ends of the earth.
And let us beg him earnestly that, in the process, he will not bypass our own beloved land of Britain.