From the Desk of Bishop Mark J Webb: Together in prayer
April 26, 2017 / By Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb
Editor's Note: This letter was first published in the 2017 Issue 2 of the Advocate, which focuses on the power of prayer. Click here to access this issue.
“Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.”
“God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.”
Those two quotes attributed to John Wesley are two of my favorite quotes about prayer. Prayer is at the heart of our journey with God, one another, and the world. Prayer takes us deeper, wider, higher, and longer, as we seek to serve God with all that we are and all that we have. We experience prayer individually and corporately. We offer prayers of thanksgiving and intercession. Prayer drives us to talk with our God and even more, to listen to the voice of our God.
As we seek to be the church of Jesus Christ, boldly living the mission of being used by God for the increase of disciples who love and follow Jesus, prayer is our greatest resource and spiritual weapon. Prayer leads us to a place of trust and dependence upon God. Prayer reveals God’s dreams, offers God’s direction for our path, and provides Holy Spirit boldness for the steps we take.
In the pages of this edition of The Advocate, you will find some amazing stories of prayer from brothers and sisters in Christ in every part of the Upper New York Conference. You will see various practices of prayer, powerful experiences of prayer, and awesome results of prayer! I hope these expressions encourage and challenge us to go deeper in our prayer life, as individuals and together as the body of Christ.
Over the next few years, we have chosen a theme for our life together that is defined by three simple words: Together in Prayer. The realities of our world, our future as congregations, as an Annual Conference, and as The United Methodist Church call us to get serious about the discipline of prayer! In the midst of uncertainty, prayer opens us to the truth and promise of the Holy Spirit’s work within and among us. Imagine the Church’s impact upon the world if we took our prayer lives to a higher level. Imagine the vitality and revival our churches would experience not because of the plans born of our own ingenuity, but from the power and promise of prayer. Imagine how we would approach the future, if our present was even more deeply grounded in the practice of prayer.
As we continue to seek ways to be the hands and feet of Christ, as we wonder about the future of The United Methodist Church because of our disagreements around homosexuality, as the Commission on a Way Forward carries out its task and seeks to offer solutions for the days ahead – LET US PRAY!
As we travel through another season of Lent, I want to challenge us to go deeper in our discipline and practice of prayer. Starting now, let’s get serious about praying for God’s power and direction for the ministry we have been called to. Here’s the challenge:
Once a month, there will be a gathering for prayer in every District!
Once a week, there will be a gathering for prayer in every local congregation!
At the request of The Council of Bishops and in partnership with the United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women, and United Methodist Communications, The Upper Room has posted all sorts of prayer resources on its umcprays.org site. Over the next days and weeks, other resources and suggestions will be made available on the Upper New York Conference website to help churches and Districts launch their prayer gatherings. When you do gather, I suggest you start by praying for these things:
- for the community/communities we are called to reach.
- for the congregation(s) we are called to go forth from.
- for the individuals that God is begging us to offer Christ to.
- for ways in which God desires to use our gifts and resources, leading us into new and vibrant forms of ministry and service.
- for the future of God’s mission as lived out by United Methodist Christians in Upper New York to be one of great vitality, fruitfulness, and effectiveness.
- for God to reveal the way for the future of The United Methodist Church.
- for God to spiritually revive us and for spiritual revival to spread across the land.
LET US PRAY!
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12.12