Greenville, Illinois, isn’t normally a spring break destination, but 175 people from 22 states met there March 19–21. They were surrounded by farmland rather than beaches, but they came to seek partnership with the Son — not to party in the sun.
“Prayer is the primary means by which God partners in His kingdom work,” Bishop David Kendall said at the Greenville Free Methodist Church as the National Prayer Summit began.
Doug Newton, the host church’s senior pastor and a co-coordinator of the Free Methodist Church – USA National Prayer Ministry, also described prayer as partnership.
“God saves us to reinstate us as partners in His purpose,” he said. “God creates and raises up people, breathes His spirit into them and releases them for His purposes.”
The summit launched the National Prayer Ministry and its mission to create and sustain the passion and practice of intercessory prayer for local, national and global transformation. Newton said the ministry’s vision is for every Free Methodist church to be a fully functioning biblical house of prayer, and the ministry’s strategic initiatives are to “revive our urgency, recast our theology, recruit our people and recalibrate our churches.”
Bishop Matthew Thomas told summit participants that all prayer is not equal. He said some local churches use “punctuation prayer” — multiple prayers in a service to segue from one part of a service to another. Thomas also warned against “the ultimate Christian blow off” — promising people in need that you’ll pray for them and then leaving the person before praying.
“Stop praying for people if you have the ability to pray with them,” he said.
The summit emerged from Free Methodist bishops’ call for people across the United States to form an ongoing National Prayer Ministry and pray in preparation for General Conference 2015, which will be held July 13–16 in Orlando. The gathering’s official title was the “National Prayer Summit: GC2015 and Beyond.”
Southeast Region Superintendent Darrel Riley and his wife, General Conference 2015 Site Coordinator Peggy Riley, previewed GC15 and related experiences, such as mission trips, Freedom Summit and annual conferences for the Eastern area and River conferences.
Darrel Riley said air conditioning is not the only conditioning that will be needed in Florida this July. “All of these events need our prayer covering and prayer conditioning,” he said.
The summit included seminars led by prayer guides Keith Cowart, the lead pastor of Christ Community Church in Columbus, Georgia; Ivan Filby, the president of Greenville College; Margie Newton, the pastor of prayer and counseling ministries for the Greenville Free Methodist Church and a co-coordinator of the National Prayer Ministry; and Larry Walkemeyer, the lead pastor of Light & Life Christian Fellowship in Long Beach, California, and the superintendent overseeing the Central Region and church planting for the Free Methodist Church in Southern California.
After lunch on March 21, the summit concluded with the bishops sharing briefly with participants and then celebrating Communion with them.
The summit left participants inspired and eager to see the future of the National Prayer Ministry as they returned to their 93 local churches.
“This was by far the most powerful event I have ever been involved with in my life,” said Karen Paubel, who attends the Greenville FMC.
To join the National Prayer Ministry, send an email with your name and email address to Doug Newton: firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to fmchr.ch/fmnps for expanded coverage of the summit.2