Saturday, December 24, 2011
Focus 40—a time of prayer and fasting
Congregations across the Church of God will spend forty days of prayer leading up to Easter. Will you join us for those forty days, as we pray for various concerns such as the vitality of our movement, and for our Church of God congregations, missionaries and pastors all over the world? If you do not attend a Church of God congregation, pray for your congregation and denomination. As we do so, we join with Christians around the world who fast and pray during the Lenten season.
It is my custom in my prayer time, to pray for all the saints, as directed by God through the apostle Paul in Ephesians (6:18) (“always keep on praying for all the saints.”) I urge you to also pray for the entire family of God, which includes all the saints of God in and out of every communion throughout the world. Pray we will love each other and will each love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Pray we will be witnesses for our Lord Jesus Christ in all our thoughts, words and behavior, and finally pray we will all be filled with the Holy Spirit of God, living our lives in the awesome power of the Spirit rather then limiting ourselves to our own inadequate human power.
But the primary purpose of this year’s Focus 40 is to pray for those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. So pray for people you know who do not have a personal relationship with Christ, to experience his salvation for themselves. The goal is for 25,000 people to be saved in Church of God congregations around the world. In whatever church group you worship, I encourage you to pray for similar results
As we do this, I also urge you to also pray for all people on earth who do not know Christ—about 4,666,666,667 (4.6 billion) persons! If you are like me, you can’t even conceive of that many people, much less comprehend how to pray for them. The immensity of those numbers is overwhelming to us but they are not overwhelming to God. When we pray for them all to be saved, they are to us, an incomprehensible mass of humanity, but to God they are individuals whom he loves with a passion, and persons he knows by name. This ministry of prayer is a tool God gave to humanity so we can work together with him to accomplish his marvelous Will—especially the salvation of all humanity.
At this Christmas time let us not forget the reason for Christ’s coming—to proclaim God’s love for all mankind—to bring “peace on earth, good will toward men”. In other words Christ came not only for your salvation and mine, but so the entire world might personally experience the love and peace of God.
As we do so, we strengthen God’s Kingdom locally and world-wide. We draw near to God, individually, congregationally, and altogether as a movement, and we join together in this wonderful work of prayer with all the marvelous family of God throughout the earth.