Seven years ago, I felt God drawing my attention to the subject of corporate prayer. I was drawn to 2 Corinthians 1:11 where it says: "You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many".
The preceding verses show Paul facing considerable challenges and here he asks the whole church to pray for him; young and old, new believer or mature saint. He covets the prayers of many. It is the only time I can see in the Bible when numbers involved in a spiritual activity seem to have a direct correlation to the outcome.
Reading and thinking about Paul’s encouragement to everyone in the Corinthian church to pray, I began to wonder whether fruitfulness in prayer actually might be related to the numbers involved, more than we might think.
Prayer in Paul’s mind was certainly not a department for those called to do it, or for those particularly called ‘intercessors’. From my reading of the New Testament we are all called to intercede. I can find no specific reference to anyone being called an intercessor as a role or office. Some like Epaphras have a grace to ‘wrestle in prayer’, but we are all called to intercede it seems, together.
I began to explore times in church history where large scale mobilizing of corporate prayer had taken place. Two key figures in the last few hundred years stood out, Jonathan Edwards and William Carey.
Jonathan Edwards wrote a book called A Call to United, Extraordinary Prayer: An Humble attempt. In it he describes his venture of inviting churches he had connection with to pray collectively. There were three components to this large-scale corporate prayer: 1. Extraordinary prayer (something over and above, the important, but routine weekly local church prayer meeting); 2. Visible union (everyone praying on the same date at the same time in different locations); 3. Explicit agreement; (all following the same agenda in prayer, all in agreement).
William Carey later on applied the same principles to what became known as ‘concerts of prayer’. From these prayer meetings significant spiritual awakening can be traced. I began to ask ’might we make our own humble attempt?’
Following a lot of planning and creative discussion we established ENOUGH. The name signified that firstly God was enough to meet the needs we would bring to him. Secondly it expressed ‘enough Lord, we are earnestly asking you to move and bring change in our broken world'.
We selected three Friday evenings a year as our starting point. We wanted to include all the family (children as well as adults) and make prayer so accessible that the newest believer or most experienced Christian could engage well with it. We created five sections (Family, Thanksgiving, Broken World, Church, Pioneer) that would form the agenda for each evening and a team of very creative people got to work to make sure each section was engaging, fun and fruitful for everyone.
On our first evening I had no idea if anyone would turn up. To my joy and excitement over 2,000 people in hubs of 2-3 churches come together online and joined in. And we soon found churches in numbers of other nations wanted to join in. ENOUGH has continued to grow over the last few years with new partners from other networks/streams joining in with us, thus expressing the unity the Jesus longs for.
When Covid-19 hit, we felt the need to pray more and gather more. So we created an online ENOUGH – ‘For such a time as this’ and have seen a wave of yet more partners across streams and networks joining in. The first gathering in April attracted around 8,500 with people joining from 28+ nations. Tomorrow's event will be in six languages, and we'll have people joining us from all over the world, from Japan to the east coast of the USA.
We have an open invite to any individual, local church, stream, network or denomination to join in with our ENOUGH initiative. Even if those looking in choose to design their own events and initiatives, the task of mobilizing the church to large scale corporate prayer is advanced. Paul would be pleased and I believe Jesus would be to.