An extensive prayer guide, written by 80 different professors and national prayer leaders, is being distributed to clergy nationwide at no cost to help tackle what many see as the top issue facing the church today.
"In uncertain economic times, when fear becomes commonplace, prayer moves to center stage and we want to be sure our pastors are ready to help deepen and strengthen the practice of prayer in our churches," said Dana Simons, executive director of the Praying Pastors Project, which America's National Prayer Committee recently launched to distribute Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry and other prayer resources to clergy.
"Most people think prayer is just something our religious leaders instinctively know how to practice and teach, but they often feel ill-equipped to disciple others in prayer," she expressed in a released statement. "This project is designed to provide the newest prayer resources available in seminaries to those who are facing the daily challenges of leading others to pray more fervently and effectively."
A 2005 survey by LifeWay Christian Resources of 1,300 evangelical leaders from around the world revealed that the top issue facing the Church is "The need for more ongoing, passionate prayer in both personal and church life." Ranked below it were issues such as homosexuality and abortion, which came in at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.
"In order for today's church to remain strong in the midst of an evil society, it must be a praying church," Gary Butler, a survey participant from Gospel Lighthouse Church in Anadarko, Okla., told the Baptist Courier.
"If we as believers ... want to see the same mighty move of God that the early church saw, we must pray just as the early church did," he continued. "Show me a praying Christian and church and I will show you a victorious Christian and church."
The taskforce that developed the comprehensive textbook on prayer was commissioned by the National Prayer Committee in 2006, less than a year after the idea for it came out. According to the committee, an informal discussion led to unanimous agreement that students in seminaries and Bible colleges are being taught little about prayer.
Christian leaders who were brought together to serve on the task force included Dr. Dan Crawford, senior professor of evangelism and mission at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Dr. Daniel Henderson, president of Strategic Renewal ; the Rev. Phil Miglioratti, director of the National Pastors Prayer Network; the Rev. Dennis Fuqua, executive director of International Renewal Ministries; and the Rev. David Butts, chairman of America's National Prayer Committee.
Giving Ourselves to Prayer is the first major project of the task force. The 592-page book is written by 80 authors from across the Church spectrum and covers the most vital aspects of prayer ministry, from personal prayer issues to concepts on how to grow prayer in a church. Its authors come from the academic community and also include practitioners in the prayer movement.
To get the book and other important prayer resources to pastors throughout the United States, the Praying Pastors Project is creating a community-based advertising program designed to raise funds from donors and Christian businesses in order to underwrite the costs of distribution.
"It is hard to explain just how monumental the announcement of this project is," commented John Bornschein, senior director of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
"This has been a book years in the making. Nearly every leader in the prayer movement has contributed writings to this resource. It is truly phenomenal to see the barriers come down with Christ's appointed men and women united in one voice to direct God's people," he added.
According to Simons, the key to the distribution project's success will be people who are willing to become community coordinators or who are able to sponsor a pastor in their local community.
"By working together with the National Day of Prayer Task Force and other NPC ministry partners, we believe we will be able to get this book into the hands of every pastor in our nation," she stated.
Giving Ourselves to Prayer consists of 80 chapters contained in four sections – The Theological Foundation of Prayer, The Personal Passion for Prayer, The Corporate Expression of Prayer, The Global Impact of Prayer. Each chapter is written by a Christian leader and centers on topics such as "Crisis Praying vs. Consistent Praying" and "To Whom Does God Listen?" Authors include, among others, Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Sammy Tippit, founder of Sammy Tippit Ministires; and Henry Blackaby, founder and president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries International.
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