May 2014:

Make May 25 ‘The Day of Prayer’

May the grace and peace of our risen Lord be with you!

It is a beautiful season! Someone said that May is the “queen of the seasons.” I fully agree. Trees are getting greener, and we are experiencing the vitality of life. We cannot but give thanks and praises to God who has created this world and given us this beautiful gift.

The second Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer went very well. Almost 400 people gathered and learned about prayer and spiritual disciplines. Dr. Tom Albin, the keynote speaker, did a great job, and many participants expressed their appreciations for his leadership. I am also deeply grateful to all the workshop leaders and to the members of the Planning Team. All of them prayerfully prepared for this convocation and worked very hard.

When the Planning Team met to prepare for this convocation, we also discussed regional follow-up events to continue to spread the culture of prayer to the churches. Already the conference Board of Discipleship has taken the baton and planned the following events with the same theme, “Lord Teach Me to Pray”: On May 17 at Timberlake UMC, Lynchburg District; On Aug. 23 at Williamsburg UMC, York River District; On Oct. 23 at St. Thomas UMC, Alexandria District. I pray that through these gatherings our praying knees are strengthened and the churches become more open to God’s presence and power.

Another discussion the Planning Team had was setting a conference-wide “The Day of Prayer” for the renewal and revival of our churches. We chose May 25 as “The Day of Prayer” remembering Aldersgate Day, May 24. We Methodists know what happened to John Wesley on May 24, 1738. His heart was strangely warmed, and John Wesley experienced the assurance of God’s grace. This experience became an important milestone for the Methodist movement.

Can we turn around our churches by our own strength, plan and wisdom? Probably to some degree we can bring changes. I value our earnest efforts to turn around our declining churches. But we need to ask fundamental questions before we answer. To whom does our church belong? Who is the owner and the Lord of our church? Who is the head of our church? If we do not listen to the Lord of our church, our efforts will be in vain.

This is the reason I say, “Let Jesus Christ be the Lord in our mission and ministries.” The first step for an authentic turn-around of our churches is that we begin listening to what the Lord wants us to do. This turn-around should begin with catching not our vision, but Christ’s vision for us. This is the reason prayer is important for our new future. Prayer is more than asking for some favors. Prayer is opening ourselves to God and listening to the Lord. The Lord is waiting for us to open ourselves and follow Christ’s vision and guidance.

Today everyone agrees with the need for a renewal and revival of our churches. Everyone knows that we cannot renew our churches by our own wisdom and strategy. But most of us stop here and do not take the next step to move forward. We feel the need of a renewal and revival of our churches, but we do not open ourselves to God and humbly ask God to send us a renewal and a revival. I think the time has come for us to pray together for a new future of our churches.

We set the date May 25 as the Day of Prayer. I want all churches in the Virginia Conference to pray for a renewal and revival of our churches during their worship services on May 25th. Most of our churches have a time of prayer, remembering prayer requests and the people in need during their worship services. The Planning Team’s and my request is that you pray for a new future for our churches. My hope is that this prayer request will be remembered every Sunday until we see a renewal and revival of our churches. We need to knock on the door until the door is opened. More information on the Day of Prayer will follow.

Let me close by sharing what John Wesley said: “God does nothing apart from prayer.” Amen.

In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho

 

 

 

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