At the opening service Sunday evening for the National Prayer Summit, New Room Executive Director David Thomas reflected on great awakenings of the past and the hope for a deeper awakening in the future.
“You can almost see the whole story of Christianity as the succession of awakening movements,” said Thomas, who leads the popular New Room renewal conference sponsored by Seedbed (Asbury Theological Seminary’s publishing arm). “We want to sow for a great awakening a work of God in our day.”
Thomas’ master’s degree and doctorate focused on patterns of prayer that led to revival movements, and he believes another movement may happen. He noted, “Some believe awakening is impossible today … but every context of awakening has always seemed utterly impossible.”
Thomas’ message included an emphasis on travailing prayer.
“The Bible seems utterly unfamiliar with casual prayer — prayer of the mouth and not the heart,” Thomas said. “Travailing prayer — this kind of burdened, focused, pressing prayer — seems really closer to the throbbing heart of prayer in Scripture.”
In introducing Thomas, National Prayer Ministry Co-Director Doug Newton noted that a close look at the summit’s “Deeper Awakening” banner seems to include an unplanned image of a person kneeling in front of a chair.
“The greatest work in the church is always done by people who are in the background,” he said. “If you want to be close to Jesus, you know where you need to be — interceding.”
Co-Director Margie Newton began the summit by asking for “short, one-sentence declarations of thanksgiving,” and summit participants shared impromptu declaration prayers. After the prayer, she said, “We want to encourage you to continue a heart of worship, not only in our times together, but throughout the whole general conference. There’s so much to give thanks to the Lord for, and He deserves hearts of gratitude.”3