Time to Push

posted on February 18

United in Prayer

"When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices united in prayer to God." - Acts 4: 24

Greetings, sisters and brothers in the gracious name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:

Today begins a momentous week for us as the United Methodist Church. After years of study, preparation, and conversation, our 864 elected delegates from across the globe are preparing to come together for the Special Called Session of General Conference in St. Louis taking place Saturday, February 23 through Tuesday, February 26th. Over these few days, the delegates will be hearing petitions, including the three proposed plans submitted by the Commission, for finding The Way Forward which seeks harmony among our differences around the issue of human sexuality and unity in our shared Mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

For many of us, we may wonder what we can do to remain faithful and make a difference during the week and months ahead. One of the most important ways to make a difference is to come together and pray. Prayer has the power to accomplish what we alone cannot, because prayer is our communion with God, our person-to-Person connection that connects our hearts with God’s heart and has the ability to align our will with the will of God.

In Acts 4, we hear the story of Peter and John being arrested for preaching the name of Jesus, and when the believers heard these reports, they responded by lifting their voices, united in prayer to God. As a result, we hear that the building where they were gathered shook and the Holy Spirit moved among them to create such unity in the Spirit so that all the believers were united in heart and mind and there were no needs among them.

Jesus teaches us that we are to be bold and persistent in our prayers, never giving up, as did the widow in Matthew 6 and the neighbor knocking on the door in Luke 11. We are to ask, and we shall receive, to seek, and we will find, to knock and the door will be open.

So friends, now is the time for us to PUSH forward in prayer, not pushing any particular agenda but rather Praying Until Something Happens. For over 30 years, we have been at an impasse as a denomination. Now it’s time for a breakthrough.

Over the past year, I have prayed what I refer to as a breakthrough prayerfor our United Methodist Church which is simple, bold and persistent in the asking:

Lord, I am praying for a breakthrough for the United Methodist Church that will open the way to lead us on the path, Lord, to glorifying you.

Over the next several day and weeks, I invite you to pray daily this prayer (or another) with me.

We need to ASK for a breakthrough that will open the way.

We need to SEEK the way forward that will expand and strengthen our Mission.

We need to KNOCK so that new doors will be opened so that, as in Acts 4, the needs of all God’s children will be met.

Additionally, I invite you to join us for a District-Wide Prayer Vigil this Thursday, February 21, 2019 at Central UMC in Asheville from 6:00-7:00 pm. During this time, we will also be praying for our delegates from WNCC and all 864 delegates from around the world. Please pray daily for our delegates listed here below (clergy names in italics):

Jennifer Davis (Chair of Delegation)
Kimberly Ingram
Jennifer Burton
Amy Coles
Lynne Gilbert
David Christy
Coley Hooker
Ashley Crowder Stanley
Amy Johnson
In-Yong Lee
Shannon Sherfey
James Howell
Sandy Hieronymus
Jeremy Troxler
Hank Dozier
Sam Moore
Robert Upchurch
John Boggs
Tonya Lanier
Jeff Patterson

Sarah McKinney
Sally M. Queen
Andrew Woods
Shelly Webb

Please also remember Bishop Paul Leeland, our bishop, in your prayers as he and the others from the Council of Bishops continue to lead us faithfully during the days of General Conference and beyond. In case you missed it or would like to view it again, here is a Pre-Conference message from Bishop Leeland.

Following General Conference, Bishop Leeland will be in each district for a time of worship, communion, and discussion regarding the outcomes of General Conference. Bishop Leeland will be with us for the opening of our Blue Ridge District Leadership Conference on Sunday, March 3rd from 1:30-5:30. You can register for that event here.

I don’t know exactly what the breakthrough will be or what specific outcomes or changes will occur. But this I do know: God is faithful, and God is still moving among the people called Methodist. And I believe and know that the Movement and Mission will continue!

Praying in Unity with You,