By Daniel Bramlett
Will you join me in praying for the neighborhoods in our towns that are wracked with drugs and addiction? For over two years now a team of men from our Church have been asking God to make inroads into the drug lifestyle that is so prevalent in Southwest AR. We have seen answers to those prayers on an individual basis and through the ministry we started called Banner Hope Center. But we have yet to see the awakening for which we pray. Will you join us in praying?
I love to read the stories of the Church from around the world. It is so exciting to hear the stories of men and women who are on the frontlines of the Church, advancing the message of the Kingdom into areas that are so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. That I love these stories does not make me sadistic. I don’t enjoy hearing of people being killed, and there are always deaths. I love hearing the news that Elijah heard. “I will leave 7000 in Israel…” You’re not the only one left, dude! I love hearing the news of Obadiah. “I hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.” There are things going on that we had no clue about! When I read the stories of faithful men and women in deserted, war torn places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, my heart soars at the news of all that God is doing apart from us. I have to believe He is on the move here, too.
I choose to believe this because of all the prayers that have been offered. I want to believe this because of the way our Churches have so willingly and excitedly partnered to share the Gospel. I lean into this prayer even more because of the small successes we’ve seen so far. However, the greatest reason I pray this way is because this is God’s heart. He is always for the brokenhearted, the down and out, the distraught and the lonely. God is in the rescue business! Whether you look together or not on the outside, God sees the heart. His redemption is whole and full of promises. When a life latches onto what He offers, the difference is immediate and long lasting. I pray this way because I know God wants to see families and neighborhoods brought into the Light more than I do.
I can just see a chain of homes banding together across our towns, infected with the bright light of the Gospel. I can hear songs being sung by voices once muted by drugs and death. I can feel the restoration taking place in lives once wracked by pain and I can understand the truth that is being shared. My vision is an image of the once bound, now redeemed gathering under the freedom of the cross. But that is not all it is.
This vision also encompasses the long faithful in our towns. I can see those who have worshipped Jesus for years gathering with a newfound excitement for the Gospel. I can hear their voices raised in passionate praise for the King they learned to love so many years ago, now bringing them to a new place of Light and truth. I can feel the enthusiasm rising as more and more lives are changed and homes are turned around as the name of Jesus is proclaimed. Will you join us in praying for an awakening?
What will it take for this vision to become reality? Certainly a saturation of prayer. That is happening. I pray it drips from the ceilings of our sanctuaries and runs through the floors of our homes. But there is more. Jesus said “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies it bears much fruit.” This kind of vision only happens when the Church—all the believers in a certain area—come to the end of themselves and seek the Lord with all their hearts, together. We must die to ourselves if we truly want to see our towns changed. The future of our towns lay in the hands of the Church, not the government, the schools, the business or the wealth. Followers of Jesus alone have the potential and the authority to offer lasting change to our environment. Will you join me in dying to ourselves? I pray the news of our death(s) will be widely circulated!