Dear Virginia Annual Conference,
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, stated that prayer is “the grand means of drawing near to God.”
I believe that prayer is one of the most underutilized disciplines that we practice individually and in our churches. Prayer is a powerful tool and has an element of mystery.
What do you think would happen if our priorities shifted and instead of having a monthly church meeting or choir rehearsal, we surrendered our own agendas and prayed for the body of Christ? I believe to really understand the power of prayer, one must pray!
In The United Methodist Church, prayer is categorized as a “means of grace.” Wesley believed that means of grace are ways God works invisibly in disciples, hastening, strengthening and confirming faith so that God’s grace pervades in and through disciples.
Why is prayer important? Prayer is simply the avenue for daily communication with God. Prayer is so important to the life of a Christian that it is mentioned over 250 times in Scripture. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “to be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
Praying can be quite intimidating because we think we must have flowery or eloquent words to communicate with God. There are many types of prayer: centering, intercessory, contemplative, flash, breath, petitionary, morning, midday, evening and Tongsung Kido prayer that maybe utilized in our daily practice.
Prayer has always been a favorite discipline that I practice diligently. After seeing the movie War Room in 2015, I created a room in my house that resembles the room in Mrs. Clara’s house. An intimate place where I can pray, “war” and intercede for my family, friends, clergy, laity, conference staff of the Virginia Conference, The United Methodist Church and anything that God may place on my heart.
Bishop Cho created a culture of prayer in the Virginia Annual Conference during his episcopacy. In 2015, he reset a goal for at least 50 percent of the clergy of the Virginia Annual Conference to engage in spiritual disciplines for “one hour” daily and for 50 percent of Virginia Annual Conferences churches to become prayer covenant churches. I challenge you to continue to be faithful to the disciplines that were taught and engaged throughout this annual conference.
As we continue to live into our new vision “to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve,” there will be a spiritual formation of prayer that will undergird the implementation of this vision. Please be on the lookout for me to share how we will reengage the annual conference on the topic of prayer. Also, mark your calendar for Saturday, September 15, 2018 for the Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer. Our guest plenary speaker will be the Rev. Dr. Terry Teykl, author of Pray the Price. Location of this event has not been determined.