In 1983, Tony and I had the privilege of going to Korea where we spent time at Full Gospel Central Church. At that time, it was the largest church in the world and Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho was the pastor. Our question going there was twofold. Was this work "an inch deep and a mile wide," or, if it was deeper than that, what, if any, was the secret to the remarkable things they were seeing?
The first night we were there, we went to their all-night prayer meeting. We arrived an hour early to find the place (which seated about 10,000 at the time) already filled with people praying. Every seat was taken and there were more on the floor in the aisles. Mothers had babies on their backs, children were sleeping on the ground. There were older people and younger people, all praying and worshipping.
We didn't understand a word of what was going on, but the presence of God was so real it felt almost tangible. When the meeting started, everyone began praying loudly and simultaneously. The whole auditorium was on its feet, storming heaven, arms raised, some with fists clenched, tears running down their cheeks. A few were kneeling, their tears dripping to the floor. It was profoundly moving.
At one point I looked at my watch. Forty minutes later, someone rang a bell and the praying stopped. Then another topic was announced and off they went again. This went on all night with the occasional break to sing a hymn.
A couple of days later we visited their "Prayer and Fasting Mountain." Some people were fasting for 40 days. Some were there to pray until they received healing. Because it was so cold (13 degrees F), many were lying on the floor in sleeping bags. We visited the tiny cubicles cut into the mountain, where people stayed to fast and pray until God met them.
We heard story after story of the miracles God did in response to prayer: healings, businesses restored, lives transformed by meeting Jesus.
At the end of our time there I was convinced we were seeing a genuine and deep move of God. And the reason? The people there were praying the price.
David Watson, whose book Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery I featured here, once asked his top 100 church planters—those who were starting at least 20 churches per year—a series of questions to find out the common elements among them. They found many similar factors, but there was only one present in every team: a high commitment to prayer.
Here's what is described in the book:
These leaders spent an average of three hours per day in personal prayer. They spent another three hours in prayer with their teams every day. These leaders were not all full-time religious leaders. In fact, most of them had regular jobs. They started their days at 4:00 AM, and by 10:00 AM were at work.
These top performers also spent one day per week in fasting and prayer. The whole team spent one weekend per month in fasting and prayer.
One group had started more than 500 churches the previous year.
I'm not talking about legalism here; we cannot earn a move of God. But I firmly believe we will not see the move of God we long for in this country without praying the price.
Adapted from Felicity Dale's blog, Kingdom Women. Felicity Dale is an author and an advocate for women in the church. She trains people to start simple, organic house churches around the world.
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