The International Prayer Assembly (IPA) in 1984 in Seoul, Korea, was a “coming out party” for the emerging global prayer movement. The initiatives that came out of this assembly focused primarily on the urban prayer movement. And that’s where the prayer movement of the past 15 years has focused.
In 1986, as a follow-up to the IPA, I traveled to seven Asian cities, holding daylong “Urban Consultations on United Prayer.” Working with me was John Richards, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of Asia. God gave us notebooks full of insights from hundreds of leaders about prayer and citywide spiritual awakenings. Through the remainder of the 1980s, I continued to log discoveries as I worked with prayer movements in scores of major urban centers around the globe. From that research emerged a training tool called The Prayer Pacesetters Sourcebook: How to Start and Nurture a Community-wide Prayer Movement, which explored more than 100 principles gleaned from citywide practitioners.
Since then, I have served prayer movements in hundreds of cities and communities, becoming increasingly convinced that God is preparing many cities for an “urban Pentecost” (to use the term of Christian urbanologist Ray Bakke). In fact, I became so convinced that this will happen in New York City that we moved our family there in 1991 so we could participate as it unfolded.
Most people think of metro New York as traffic jams, crowded housing, racial unrest, poverty, and crime. What I see is the unfolding of an “urban Pentecost-a drama of true revival that could take place in cities everywhere. Reaching every ethnic group and denomination-into spheres of influence such as college campuses, the corporate and financial world, and Broadway entertainment- the prayer movement in New York displays the touch of the Lord and the promise of spiritual awakening. We are caught up in a climate of hope. New York has convinced me that cities and prayer really do go together!
But it has convinced me of something else too. Six months ago. Concerts of Prayer International and Mission America cosponsored a National Urban Consultation in Harlem As I prepared my talk for the group, three themes that every urban prayer leader must wrestle with crystallized into a single thesis: “An urban Pentecost awaits an urban prayer movement captivated by an urban Christology.”
Our cities will certainly experience healing as the church in the city is revived-an urban Pentecost. Historically, God grants a revival of this magnitude only as the whole church in a whole city seeks it together-an urban prayer movement. But an urban prayer movement will only be ignited and sustained to the degree that people are convicted of God’s ability and willingness to pour out an awakening to Christ. In other words, they must be caught up in an urban Christology-a vision of the supremacy, sovereignty, and saving power of a Jesus who is sufficient to fulfill God’s kingdom designs for the city Like three legs of a stool, if any one of these themes is missing. spiritual awakening in the city collapses.
Three points to consider: First, intercession for greater spiritual revelation and power from God must always look at the implications of God~ answers for our communities and beyond. Revival is never for our own sakes alone That’s the way they prayed in Acts 4. Second, voices must rise from a diverse body of Christ, because true revival cannot be contained within one expression of the church. It must manifest itself through all the saints from every part of the body Third. such a movement thrives only if the hope is big enough-a hope for much more than we’ve yet experienced, a hope centered on Christ victorious This requires that prayer be matched by casting the vision and being messengers of hope, first through pastors and prayer leaders, but ultimately by all God’s people.
Right praying (urban Pentecost) by the right people (urban prayer movement) for the right reasons (urban Christology) can prepare any city for a new day of revival.
Jeremiah 33 puts this in perspective. It starts with “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (x~ 3). Then it presents eight principles around which we should pray- eight distinctives of a city marked by the hope, presence, and fulfillment of the living Christ:
- A city refined by God’s judgments (vs. 4-5)
- A city restored by Gods healing (v. 6)
- A city rebuilt to God’s specifications (v. 7)
- A city reconciled to God’s fellowship (v. 8)
- A city renowned as God’s witness to the nations (v. 9)
- A city rejoicing with God’s praises (vs. 10-11)
- A city replenished as God’s righteousness (v. 16)
- A city reproducing in God’s power (vs. 17-22)
Look at your city What does it need in preparation for the new day?