Sunday, November 17, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: CITY OF PRAYER (2019)

There is only one major American city, of which it can be said, that it is completely blanketed in daily Prayer. On the surface,  Austin, Texas, whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird” may seem like the unlikeliest place for the most concentrated, sustained and focused city-wide movement of prayer in this great country.

Just as in the Third Great Awakening began with one man’s vision for prayer  (Jeremiah Lanphier), Austin’s decade old “Unceasing Prayer Movement” began when one man and his wife. Pastor Trey Kent of Northwest fellowship Church in Austin Texas, and his wife, Mary Anne,  were prayer-walking their neighborhood one night in February 2008. There, under a street lamp, the Holy Spirit gave Pastor Kent a clear vision for a 24/7 prayer movement, powered by many churches from the capitol city of Texas – Austin.

Thus began execution of this divine directive, which quickly evolved into what is now 100 churches of all races and denominations, praying for their city, their churches and the lost. They pray, literally, 24/7/365.  CITY OF PRAYER is the first document of its type to not just record the success of a growing grassroots movement, but the book provides a roadmap which can be, and has already been reproduced in the USA, with interest from other countries!

Written by Pastor Kent and Dr. Kie Bowman of Austin's Hyde Park Baptist Church, CITY OF PRAYER gives not just the history of what is now "The Unceasing Prayer Movement" and "Austin Prays", but also a brief primer on the great revivals and moves of God in the last 150 or so years. These Revivals/Awakenings began with and were fueled only by prayer. Some of the prayer movements of Scripture are also looked at, as a foundational to this book.

Chapters include such themes as: A Culture of Prayer; A People of Prayer; The People of Prayer; Launching 24/7 Prayer in Your City and the Results of Prayer. Without "spoiling the end", as "they" say, this group of churches fervently praying in Austin brought a direct answer from Heaven, which ended a terrible drought in Central Texas! 
The Chapter on "Launching Your Own 24/7 Prayer Movement in Your City" is of particular interest to me. I have been part of now five year old and on-going, intentional, twice per month noon prayer meeting of some local pastors and just anyone who loves to prayer. We had met for years on end from 2005 at the local HOP or House of Prayer run by a good brother of mine- Scott Beauchamp. However since relaunching in recent years, more and more prayer leaders are coming by on our lunch hours on the First and Third Tuesdays of each month to press in for transformation (personal and city wide), the church and everything else that comes up. We have pastors who are Bible churches; Baptist, Assembly of God, Nazarene, Apostolic, Non-denominational and others I have no idea where they go to church. All I know is they love Jesus and love to pray.

When I assumed leadership of the Annual National Day of Prayer event at the Illinois State Capitol, little did I know I was walking, as a prime target, into a blazing hot war. The Lord led me directly to this core group which were already in the infancy of our little city prayer group.  There is a living testimony as to the power of prayer to deliver, empower and embolden which I personally found in this group of praying men back in February 2006. I have never forgotten it as we move into Year 16 of facilitating the annual National Day of Prayer, and stay close to the flame of praying men and women of God, who are all about Jesus and the Holy Ghost. We may be growing very slowly, but there is something to persevering and pressing ahead, regardless, since our Audience is an Audience of One.
  
Almost every movement of God began with one man praying. The Third Great Awakening, the last great nationwide move of God in America, began in New York City in 1857 when one man with a vision for prayer – Jeremiah Lanphier. The first week Lanphier called a prayer meeting, no one showed up. But then on week, one other man showed up….and then more and more. The economic and socio-political conditions in the USA were not unlike those we have today.  Yet Revival spread like wildfire across the nation, leading to many millions saved and the gospel spreading like wildfire to the new American frontier! It laid the spiritual foundation which guided the nation through the devastating Civil War which followed very soon after the Awakening.

We are almost similar Civil War times, not with the Fort Sumters or Gettysburgs, but a civil war of Culture, Community and Church dysfunction. The only answer is the Praying Church. Get this book and let the Lord lead us to what He would have us do.
LINKS:

1 comment:

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