If you could recommend an effort for a church and its new pastor to undertake in order to develop a better working relationship, what would it be?
For Agape Church in St. Louis, Missouri, the clear answer was prayer. The members of Agape Church planned a prayer conference to strengthen the church relationships. But the goal of this prayer conference was not only to pray for the church and its families. The goal was also to pray with the entire neighborhood. On Oct. 13, 2018 members of Agape set out to do just that.
Despite cool temperatures, the members of Agape Church, along with members from neighboring non-Adventist churches, set up canopies along the main thoroughfare and invited those walking or driving by to pause with them for a word of prayer. Those who stopped were welcomed with refreshment stations, notepads for journaling and friendly faces to pray with. If they didn’t want to get out of their vehicle, the team took the prayer to them.
“The prayer canopies were our way of meeting our neighbors where they were,” says Diane Shelton, Agape prayer coordinator. “Our goal was to enhance their prayer lives by sharing information and showing we care. And, of course, we invited them to come in and worship with us.”
While the Holy Spirit was doing an amazing work outside, He was working inside the church as well. Central States Conference prayer ministries coordinator Pastor Joseph Ikner presented a powerful message that reminded those in attendance of the importance and power in prayer. He explained that purposeful prayer requires both intentionality and consistency. Pastor Ikner also delivered an afternoon presentation on how to have an effective personal and family prayer life.
Building faith through prayer
To conclude the day, every person in attendance was invited to join the Prayer Journey. The Prayer Journey is the physical result of what Laura Coaxum conceptualized in 2013 when first taking over Fort Leavenworth Gospel Service’s women’s ministry.
Many of the women’s ministry attendees were military or military spouses, and they had Bible studies in each other’s homes. As the group studied with each other, they moved toward the goal of being more faithful. The more they each shared their desire to strengthen their faith, they realized faith came by being dependent upon one’s relationship with Christ. The shortest avenue to that relationship is prayer.
The Prayer Journey
The Prayer Journey now has eight stations:
- Welcome—an introduction to the Journey
- Invitation—an invitation for the Holy Spirit to commune with you
- Holy Space—solitude and meditation
- Forgiveness of Sin
Elder Donna Brown shared that the team is available to conduct the Prayer Journey at retreats, reunions and prayer days.
Brown’s husband and brother-in-law are also available to facilitate, adding the ability to effectively minister to men as well.
“Women have always enjoyed the Prayer Journey,” Brown explained, “but this is the first time I’ve seen men so involved. They get to cry and relieve burdens, and it’s so freeing, so empowering.
There is an old saying: A family that prays together stays together, and a church is a family. The prayer conference was Agape Church’s first major event, and the members and community have had nothing but good things to say about it. God truly does have much more success in store for this congregation.