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Maybe I should wait to write this until I’ve actually completed my PhD. But, since I’m nearing the half-way point, and not new to theological studies, but mostly since I’ll be one hundred years old in fifty years and my health is already waning, I thought I’d better put this on paper while it was fresh in my head.

The last thing the world needs is another spiritually dead academic to lead another generation away from the wonders of God.

  • Having a connection to a local church is vital – and not just filling up a pew. Involved, serving, teaching. This is as important as any course or seminar available to you. Christian community is the incubator for discipleship and theological studies should be discipleship on steroids. Submit to spiritual disciplines and become a disciple of Christ.
  • Seek out professors and people who are praying people. Yoking to a dead man will soon kill you. One of the things we loved about sending our boys to the House of Prayer in Kansas City for their bachelor degrees was the dean of the school said they require their instructors to be in the prayer room every day— they want the students to see the back of the head of the professor in the prayer room two hours for every hour they see the front of the professor’s head in the classroom. If you can’t find a spiritually vibrant supervisor, make sure your area of study puts you at the feet of the vibrant. Be suspicious of theology that comes from people both living and dead, who weren’t often on their knees and tender before God.
  • Ask God to speak to you and to lead you, to guide your search, highlight what you need to see/find/understand. Ask for discernment – eyes to see, ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to you– , ask his help understanding and articulating such that you can tear down speculations that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. Ask God to make you a voice, not an echo – to give you a new word and a now word. I used to pray before pastoral counselling sessions and preaching and because I now have a long history with God giving me the right things to see/say, I now pray before reading and writing. And, I ask God to activate the testimony and revelation that has been resting and dormant in the Cloud of Witnesses. The greatest source of underutilises encouragement in the Body of Christ comes from the Cloud of Witnesses. You do understand, don’t you, that theological studies puts you in the midst of testimony and encouragement of the Cloud of Witnesses?
  • At some point long past I wrote on the blank page in the back of my Bible; “if you don’t shout it when you are preparing it, they won’t shout when you are preaching it… preparation must be worship.” I feel the same about theological studies. In my office at the university I have on the bulletin board this clipping from J.I. Packer… “Any theology that does not lead to song is, at a fundamental level, a flawed theology.” My supervisor is a Christian Ethicist who is writing books on things like: Singing the Ethos of God.

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I have a friend who recently got a PhD and when I asked what the focus was he rattled off something that he obviously wasn’t passionate about and then said; My dissertation was read by two people and maybe they really didn’t even read it all that close and it will never be read again.

It made me sad. Basically, he made no contribution to the Kingdom with the stewardship of time he was given to dive deep into the things of God. He used the time to get a degree so he could get a job in a university. And to think parents like myself have paid top dollar to send our sons and daughters to the universities to sit at the feet of these dry wells.

My wife had one concern with me taking this hiatus from ministry and pursuing the PhD… that I’d spend a few years working on something that will make no Kingdom difference. I can report that God has me on the trail of defining and laying the foundation for an obedience movement which is something the Body of Christ has yet to see. We’ve seen movements of all sorts–– holiness movements; monastic movements; ecumenical and social gospel movements; Zionist and restoration movements; faith, charismatic, health/wealth and signs and wonders movements; missions movements; and the Church globally is enjoying a prayer movement presently taking shape in a variety of ways including a New Monasticism movement.

However, in two thousand years, has the Church ever seen an obedience movement where a generation of Christians takes the Sermon on the Mount seriously? No. If God has me on the trail of this theme, maybe it is because those days are soon to come.  When I study these things, there is some shabba (special sauce :-), anointing) on them and to handle these sacred things with prayer has become vital to me.

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Lord, we thank thee for this food this day which comes to us from the misery of animals in large animal confinement operations, and from the chemical toilet which is modern farm soil, sold to us cheaply through subsidised ag policy which destroys foreign ag economies contributing to starvation in developing nations but enriches US commodity brokers like my uncle seated on the Chicago Board of Trade.

And Lord thank you for the clothes we wear, so affordable to us by the long hours and low wages of child slave labor…

Karl Barth

“The believer need not fear fate, even though it might be the devil himself.

The devil may plague and tempt and harass us… It is God that we must fear,

the God to whose Word the believer is directed and clings.”

– Karl Barth, Ethics, 301.


I’m reading Barth’s Ethics for discussion each Monday afternoon with other Ph.D candidates in the Divinity Department here. Some of the reading for today had to do with fate. Got me thinking about the fate of nations versus the choice of an electorate.

Reminded me of an argument I found myself in back in 1999 while eating fish on a beach in Gaza City with a Palestinian Christian friend named Ahed. Kristen and I were privileged on a humanitarian mission to stay as a guest in the compound of Yasser Arafat. Yasser’s rooster woke us up at five in the morning that week.

That evening sitting together at a wicker and wood beach table only a few feet from the Mediterranean Sea, an argument ensued. Actually, I wasn’t arguing, but something I said set Aed off and he stood and burst out angrily about how I don’t understand fate. My comment was in regard to how the first thirty years of his life were lived entirely within the land prison called the Gaza Strip (only 5 miles wide and 25 miles long – imagine living your entire life within a space that small and never being allowed to leave it) and my hope that things will change for the better and he can leave that place.

Basically Ahed said: “NO! This is my fate! To be born here, to live here and to die here is my fate. You Americans don’t understand fate. If you don’t like where you live, you move. If you don’t like how things are in the land where you live, you vote to change it. In America you are the masters of your own fate but here– fate is our master.”

What do you say to that?

Sucks to be you?!

I really don’t remember what I said. Probably something like, “Sorry I’ll give that some thought.” I did give that some thought. I thought about it for a very long time and it wasn’t until after I had left the Gaza Strip did I think of what I wish I would have said. I wish I would have put my arm around his shoulder and looked with him at the sea and said, “Ahed, my friend, our God still parts seas.”

I don’t believe in fate.

I believe in God and in His Sovereignty over the affairs of men. He still raises up kings and tears them down.

This is a repost of an article I did for the Justice House of Prayer in Washington, D.C.

Today we call it a global prayer movement. For centuries it was referred to as monasticism. Today we call them Houses of Prayer, or HOPs. For centuries they have been called monasteries. We call ourselves intercessory missionaries. For centuries our types were known as monks. At every point and place where Christianity came into crisis or compromise, God raised up a prayer movement, a new monasticism or faithful praying remnant to ensure that discipleship, grace and the Gospel were kept pure.

Most notably in the third century when Christianity became easy, grace cheap and the path wide, holy men and women went out into the dry places and deserts to die to self, stay pure, to encounter God, to learn to love him and obey, radically obey. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire into the Medieval Period it was the monks of Ireland who literally saved civilization (Good read: How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill).

Hung by his neck in a German concentration camp, pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s vision of “a new monasticism” also suffered an early martyrdom of sorts. Eight years earlier Bonhoeffer was leading an underground seminary in a chilly remote place called Finkenwalde. There he taught what we we know today as his Cost of Discipleship, much of which is a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. There he and his students lived in community the daily rhythms of life and prayer which is spelled out for us in his short book Life Together.

finkenwalde

Dietrich Bonhoeffer with students at Finkenwalde Seminary

In a earlier letter to his brother Karl-Friedrick, he made a very prophetic and important statement that many of us have adopted today as our guiding charge.

The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time people banded together to do this. (14th of January, 1935)

For Bonhoeffer, the Finkenwalde rule included life together in authentic Christian community, or in his words, banding together. In a 1936 letter to the Finkenwalde community, Bonhoeffer noted that it also included “assembling together every day in the old way to pray, to read the Bible, and to praise our God…” This illegal seminary at Finkenwalde was both a school of prayer and a singing seminary; the daily prayer rhythms and worship life of ancient monastic orders he revived in fresh form. The foundation of the curriculum was “The Discipleship of Christ” as given in the Sermon on the Mount.

The next generation of pastors, these days, ought to be trained entirely in church-monastic schools where pure doctrine, the Sermon on the Mount, and worship are taken seriously–none of which are at the university and cannot be under the present circumstances. (DBWE 13, 1/147, 217)

Bonhoeffer became captivated by and fascinated with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as the expectation Christ had of his followers. Bonhoeffer saw “these words of mine” in Matthew 5-7 as foundational for the Christian life and putting them into practice to be the key to successfully weathering the storms to come. The Sermon on the Mount ethic of enemy love was to Bonhoeffer the summit of the mount and his seminary at Finkenwalde was a training outpost for Christ-like passive resistors. He trained his students to use spiritual weapons and not take up the world’s weapons of war.

The crucible of political hostility and societal animosity toward Christians is definitely on the rise in the world and it tends to produce a more pure discipleship. And even though it only existed for two years before being shut down by the Gestapo, Bonhoeffer’s illegal seminary at Finkenwalde was a snapshot of Bonhoeffer’s prophetic vision of the essence of discipleship training within the context of a new monasticism resulting in the renewal of the Church.

In our day when church leaders more resemble CEO’s and celebrities than self-denying devotees of Jesus, and in our day when religious liberties are increasingly in peril again, Bonhoeffer’s model at Finkenwalde is truly a call back to the fundamentals of Christian discipleship, Christian community, a daily rhythm of prayer, Sermon on the Mount lifestyles and ethics.

CLICK HERE TO SEE JHOP DC’S DAILY PRAYER SCHEDULE

A book I’ve been recommending to those in our house of prayer is the book, Punkmonk, by Andy Freeman and Pete Greig. The title conveys how today’s monks in 24/7 prayer/furnace rooms in the major cities of the world look more like a pierced and tattooed generation of youth. The monks of the earlier centuries looked different too. It’s no different than what our friend Lou Engle is calling us to with the Nazirite vow. It is my intention here to open our eyes to the breadth of what the prayer movement looks like in the world today. It spans all the traditions.

To keep the discipline and perseverance required to pray continually means that you begin to experience different styles and types of prayer: New models, ancient disciplines, silence, liturgy, open prayer, prophetic prayer. Our prayer flows in rhythms. (Punk Monk, 127)

I want to reawaken the contemplative you if the contemplative you isn’t already awake. There are daily rhythms of prayer and communion and encounter with God that we must never step out of. Far back into Judaism, and far back into Christian history, the faithful had set times for prayer and set prayers for those times – and there was a unison chorus.

Spirituality is very varied and there is a time and place for all kinds of praying and expression. Many reading this are no doubt fluent in things like authoritative and warfare prayer, healing prayer, intercession, declarations, binding and loosing and so on.  But the ancient spiritual disciplines need to be reawakened too; Meditation, Fasting, Study, Simplicity, Silence, Solitude, Submission, Service, Confession, Worship.

Our spirituality needs to wider and deeper.  It will take a deep root in God to withstand the days to come!


A native of Kansas City, Steve Hickey is pastor emeritus of Church at the Gate in Sioux Falls, SD and a former South Dakota Legislator. He and Kristen live in Scotland where he is doing post-graduate work at the University of Aberdeen on Bonhoeffer, the Forerunner at Finkenwalde. He’s written several books including Obtainable Expectations: Timely Exposition of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and The Fall Away Factor.

The end game of good theology is worship and devotion. If you don’t arrive there in your study of God, you haven’t glimpsed him. Good theology is anything but dry and boring. It’s not hard to tell if a theologian is correctly grasping the revelation of God- they are people of prayer and worship. This is the litmus test of good theology and a good theologian. The reason those around the Throne sing holy, holy, holy endlessly throughout eternity is because every nano-second a new and overwhelmingly mind-blowing and beautiful aspect of God’s nature is revealed. The best theologians begin the day asking God to show them what the angels saw that made them cry HOLY!

Those were sentiments I shared recently on Facebook. Today I’d add we’ve come to a correct grasp of a theology of the cross when we come to tears. What provokes this post is that I find myself in the middle of a classical European theological school where we are still trying to make sense of guys like Hegel who looked at the cross and broadcast to the world: God is dead. His followers pressed the seeds of his atheism into full bloom intentionally influencing religion, education, media and economy (Marx). I won’t rehearse all that here but rather move right to my point.

Seems to me there are three reactions to the Cross. First, some reject it as foolishness. The message of the Cross is a profound offence, a scandal and foolishness to the perishing. The second reaction is we are indifferent. We take the Cross out of it’s central place and put up big screens instead. We don’t mention it or the blood but rather try to reach the world by telling them how to have better marriages and sex lives. The problem with that is God reached the world through the message of the Cross not messages on better marriages and better sex lives. The third reaction is we are moved to tears.

For years I preached through Lent without any real feeling about it all. Then I heard John Stott teach on the Cross of Christ and at one point he started to weep. I prayed that God would reveal to me what Stott saw in the Cross. Could it be said that theologians who occasionally tear up when talking about the Cross are the ones who raise up a generation of pastors who have Good News share with the world?

Kristen and I are so thankful for Alan Hood and his Excellencies in Christ course. At Thomas and Melody’s graduation last summer the young gal who gave the valedictorian speech mentioned this course. She said one day early on during her time at IHOP-KC, her and her class mates came out of the course crying and profoundly moved. Another student walking by in the hallway asked what course they were coming from. She replied, “Alan’s Excellencies course.” The other student said, “Oh, you’re at the Cross.”

 

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I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a precise devastation. No people dead*, no homes destroyed, just cattle. And, lots of them…. an estimated 25,000. To our neighbors out west it must feel like the plague on livestock all over again.

I know God loves cows:  Jonah 4:11 – “But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their left hand from their right, AND MANY CATTLE AS WELL. Should I not be concerned about that great city?

Here is taste of prairie spirituality as it relates to what we are facing right now in Western South Dakota. I share it to help you pray for our neighbors just west… Broken Dreams and Hearts on the Western Dakota Prairie.

You don’t just simply go “buy new cows” and start over. The foundation is removed. The legacy.  The years.  The work.  The love. The faith. It takes years of work and faith to grow a herd . . . to raise healthy, quality cattle. It takes decades.

We look for bits of hope. The news of a family who has found live cattle brings rejoicing. Freeing live tree branches from snow banks to reach toward the sky again, feels life-giving. Finding life.

You can read here what I wrote about neighborliness as a response to this crisis. Hopefully there will be some Federal relief, but here we are in a shutdown and government is broke and it’s not the governments job take care of a neighbor in need. That’s where you and I come in and we are accountable.

Neighborliness is America at it’s best.

I hope you will make a significant donation to the Rancher Relief fund the governor has set up.  Here are additional suggested ways you can help.

2013storm3We’ve now learned that four South Dakotans did lose their lives in accidents or misfortunes related to the storm in western South Dakota.

The Seas Furthest Side
Based on Psalm 139:7-12
 
On my left, on my right
Four directions in your sight
Ever-present, Wind of Heaven
 
Senseless to hide
Futile to flee
Jesus, Great in pursuit of me
 
Encountered in heaven
Settled on earth
Abba you’re everywhere, there
 
Risen on dawns wings
On the seas furthest side
Ever-present Friend in heaven.
 
Dark isn’t dark
Day trumps night
Ever-present Light.

– Steve Hickey

Under an Open Heaven
 (Based on Genesis 28:11-17 with antiphonal responses from Zephaniah 4:18. Unison responses and readings in bold. Stanzas alternatively read by various readers.)

Burdens ascending
Down come mercies without delays
Bumper to bumper angels
Like rush hour both ways

           The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save.

Jesus high and majestic
Everyman Jacob bent low, below
Floor to ceiling goodness
And grace head to toe

            He will take great delight in you.

The veil is rent,
The thin membrane frays
Heaven and earth made one
Full-color, brilliant arrays

            He will quiet you with his love

Lay under the portal
Rest your head on hard stones
Weary ones encountering him here
Praying only sighs and groans.

            He will rejoice over you with singing.

Glorious and terrifying
Astounding and holy
Behold the House of God
The Gate of Heaven

– Steve Hickey

Using one of Richard Foster’s categories, I wrote the following short a Prayer of Examen. You’ll recognize these to be additional stanzas that develop David’s “search me O God” prayer from Psalm 139:23-24.

 

Search me, God, know my heart; 
try me, know my thoughts. 
See if there is a wicked path in me; 
lead me along an ancient path. 
– Psalm 139 

Interrupt me, O God, and get my attention.
Nudge me, and tell me the truth.
Make certain I don’t miss the point
And encourage me to take it to heart.

Interview me, O God, and ask hard questions
Corner me and don’t let me off.
Challenge me if I seem vague or evasive
And bring every hidden thing to light.

Investigate me, O God, and expose my guilt
Bust me and I’ll quickly confess.
Insist I be completely honest
And the truth will set me free.

Church at the Gater Annie Johnson tells the world – Jesus heals! She’s such an inspiration. (Sorry I had to resort to a link, I couldn’t get the video to load.)

KELOLAND.COM – A Story Of Survival

This is also another win for adult stem cells. There have been NO cures or benefits uncovered in ANY embryonic stem cell research EVER!

It’s possible to change the world’s political architecture through prayer! The most recent (and most grossly under-reported) example of this is with regard to the fall of the Berlin Wall. This post will be the first in a series where that story gets told, including interviews with those who were in the battle behind the battle.

Kristen and I both read a great book (loaded with pictures!) recently on the Berlin Wall and it’s fall called “Check Point Charlie and the Wall” but regrettably only one sentence in the book spoke of what really took down the wall… “In the top secret document ‘MfS, ZAIG, nr. 496/89’ he confirmed the rapid increase in politically motivated meetings organized by religious institutions and the sharply higher numbers participating in open air demonstrations.” Another book I ordered and can’t wait to read also mentions what I will tell you about more fully here – that book is Voices in Times of Change : The role of Writers, Opposition Movements and the Churches the Transformation of East Germany. (The role of writers and churches?? Uh oh, perhaps this will only encourage my blogging!!!)

I know of only one book (in English, though now out of print) that is devoted to this topic, Candles Behind the Wall. Author Barbara Von Der Heydt writes… “Six candles in Leipzig did more to topple the wall than 6000 missiles in Western Europe.”

The guy behind those six candles is named Rev. Christian Fürher. It is perhaps my only regret on my six weeks this summer in Europe that a meeting between us didn’t materialize.  However, we are in communication and a meeting is pending. There are few people alive today who more encapsulate nearly all of my callings; strategic-level prayer, pastoring and politics, Bonhoeffer, the culture war and the Sermon on the Mount.  (If only he was a church planter too!)

His name, Christian Fürher, is the first curious thing about him, at least to the English speaking world. When we hear “Fürher” we think of Hitler, but in German the word simply means leader. (Two weeks before Hitler was elected, Bonhoeffer rebelliously said on German radio, “Jesus is my Fürher. “) Christian Fürher was born March 5, 1943 in Leipzig, just south of Berlin. Little did the world know that as one murderous Fürher was ascending in power, God saw to it that another was being born – Christian Fürher – his name, Christian Leader, is quite prophetic in terms of how God used him.

The Berlin Wall (1961-1989) was 65 running miles of concrete, another 79 miles of alarm-equipped electrical fence in the rural areas, 20 earthen bunkers and 302 watchtowers. Unlike other city walls throughout the centuries, the wall was built not to keep people out, but to keep people in. Over 170 people died trying to defect by crossing the wall from East Berlin to West Berlin. 

Here I am at one of the only remaining segments of the wall today.

Berlin wall 1

Berlin wall 2Just as the picture was being taken I quickly recoiled away from the wall as someone had just pointed out to me that I was leaning against a bunch of chewing gum. Yuk

This pic is of a hole in the wall – I’m bummed the view on the other side is blurred. Family members on each side of the wall would gather at these types of places to talk or exchange things. When that got out of hand, even the windows of the buildings facing West Berlin were bricked shut. 

A museum and place for old ladies to die OR a grassroots counter-movement
In 1980, Rev. Fürher, started a November teaching series in his church (Nikolaikirche) in Leipzig on the theme of peacemaking. His zeal on the topic was fueled by the rising nuclear threat from proposed Soviet SS20 missiles and American Pershing Missiles. Rev. Fürher took the bold political step and opened the doors of his church to “alternative” young people who were forming protest groups for disarmament. He’s says “I suddenly realized that if we would open our doors for these types, the communists would no longer be able to say the church was a museum, a place for old ladies to die. The church could again become a grassroots counter-movement.”

In 1982, Rev. Fürher started a Monday night prayer meeting at his church – the prayer meeting lasted seven years (until the wall fell). Every Monday night at 5 p.m. a handful of people gathered, and at every meeting the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount were read in unison. These prayer meetings marked a new level of engagement. The meetings were called Friedensgebate (Prayers for Peace).

In 1988, a few protesters were arrested in Berlin and Rev. Fürher dialed up the prayer resistance a notch… he held his prayer meetings daily. Rev. Fürher frequently quoted Bonhoeffer, “the church is only the church when it is there for others.” People coming to pray daily for the release of the protesters quickly reached two thousand in number.  Obviously the government was on high alert and they sent hundreds of their undercover STASI agents into the prayer meetings. Rev. Fürher began the meetings and joked about the undercover agents there – everyone laughed except the agents and everyone could easily look around identify who they were by who wasn’t smiling. (STASI secret police had over 100,000 agents and had assembled files on one-third of the East German population!!) Rev. Fürher did not mind the agents in his meetings but said “this is great that the government sent its employees to church and they were forced to listen to Jesus’ teachings!

In September of 1989, other churches around Germany began to hold similar prayer meetings. At first that sounds like something great to report, and it is certainly. However, as one who has been in some similar battles what I see there is that Rev. Fürher had little help from other churches for six and a half of the seven years of his struggle. In his book, only available in German, he speaks of the discouragement he had to deal with of being the lone radical following the path of the Sermon on the Mount. He comments that he and his church experienced ten years of suffering and defamation prior to this point.

 In October 1989, 60,000 people gathered in and around the church which was the largest demonstration ever held in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). All the people came with candles in hand. Rev. Fürher says “the Lord reminded me of this Scripture that says, ‘It’s not by might, and not by power, but by His Spirit.’ The only successful revolution in Germany was a non-violent one. Later the police said they were prepared for everything but not for prayers and candles.” 

With two hands on a candle you can’t pick up a stone
The Berlin newspaper reported that the counter-revolution would be put down on Monday October 9 by “whatever means necessary.” Rev. Fürher reports that the day before some doctors came and visited his church to tell him that “hospital rooms had been made available for patients with bullet wound…

…So we were absolutely terrified of what might happen. The police had NOT been briefed for this possibility (candles and prayers). Had we thrown stones, they would have known what to do. They would have attacked. But the tanks had no choice but to withdraw without a single shot being fired…. we had the sense that something extraordinary had happened but we really only understood the enormity of it later… thousand of people with candles. People who have never met before, suddenly a family. They lay their candles at the feet of the armed soldiers and police. The steps of the STASI building, the organization that spied on, abused and sold people out, now awash with candles. It looks like a river of peace and light.  …When more than 2000 of us came out of the church – I will never forget the sight – tens of thousands more were waiting outside in the square. They were holding candles. When you hold a candle you need both hands. You have to guard the flame, stop it from being blown out. You can’t hold a stone or club at the same time. And then the miracle occurred. The Spirit of Jesus, a spirit of non-violence, took hold of the masses and what resulted was material, peaceful violence. The army, fighting patrols and police were drawn in, started conversations and retreated.

On Oct. 18, these prayer meetings (protests) led to the resignation of Erich Honecker, the communist East German politician later tried with crimes against humanity. Honecker was contemplating the “Chinese Solution” to shut down Rev.  Fürher’s prayer meetings – the Chinese Solution referred to the massacre at Tienanmen Square in Beijing only five months earlier. A leader in the old GDR regime said before his death… “We had planned everything. We were prepared for any eventuality. Any except for prayer and candles.”

Ronald Reagan’s famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate was June 7, 1987 – “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Rev. Fürher contends that the reason Gorbachev didn’t come and tear down the wall is because the request was made “in a spirit of war.” Two more years on contending in prayer were necessary to undermine the real foundations of that wall. Rev. Fürher stood at the same wall (on the other side) and led hundreds of thousands of others to call on God to tear down the wall. God answered and the Belin Wall fell November 9, 1989. 

Brandenburg Gate

That’s a pic of us at the Brandenberg Gate a couple weeks ago.

The Sermon on the Mount in two words
Later when asked how he was so confident that peaceful prayer protests would work Rev. Fürher commented, “we were not in the least confident. We were afraid day and night, but we had the courage of our convictions. The Bible had taught us the power of peaceful protest and this was the only weapon we had. Resorting to violence makes us no better than our enemies, and then we are no longer blessed.” Obviously he’s strong in the flow of the Sermon on the Mount.

About the Sermon on the Mount he said; “It still moves me today to recall that in a secular country the masses condensed the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount into two words – NO VIOLENCE (KEINE GEWALT!) and they practised what they preached.” Keine Gewalt became their slogan.

In the same way this unjust system has fallen
There was a particular Saturday in 1989 about which Rev. Fuhrer writes: “Fourteen hours, uniformed men beat the defenceless people, who did not retaliate, and took them away in lorries. Hundreds of them were herded into stables in Markkleeberg.” During this period, Markus Laegel was only 13 years old. Today he heads 24-7 Germany and has written here of his memories of that time.  Later, at the fall of the wall Markus says he sensed the Spirit of God saying, “in the same way as this unjust system was fallen, so every other unjust system will fall.” He notes that the reason he is doing this 24-7 prayer thing is because he sees his generation has “merely swapped communism for consumerism and they are no more free.” 

The street and the altar

Christian Führer

This is long enough, but it’s powerful stuff. I have a number of specific questions for Rev. Fürher and I’ll post again on this topic and include his replies. I’ll have to arrange another time/place to meet – perhaps in January. I believe that his story and testimony need to be told in the prayer movement outside of Germany. Here’s a pic of him today in his cut off jean-jacket and white spiked hair, both of which have become his signature look.  Also, here is the New York Times article which was a story about his retirement from the church last year. I’ll conclude here with his statement: “I always wanted also to move in the earthly realm. It is not the throne and the altar but the street and the altar that belong together.”

The KC Times article yesterday on the 24/7 prayer at IHOP-KC has caused me to reflect again on a massive 24/7/365 prayer movement that emerged from here (Germany) a couple centuries ago. I’ll have to rely on pictures from our time in Herrnhut a couple years ago because we haven’t been able to get there during our time here this summer.  Here we are at the edge of town. The tree-lined one lane road behind us went a mile from Zinzendorf’s home (Berthelsdorf) to the prayer community in Herrnhut. As you can see on this map, Herrnhut is as far east in Germany as one can get, it’s right on the border of the Czeck Republic.

Herrnhut 1

Herrnhut, Germany is the home of the renowned Hundred-Year-Long Prayer Meeting. In 1722, persecuted Christians from Moravia fled to Saxony and found protection in the domain of the regional Count Nicolas Ludwig von Zinzendorf. (I’ve always loved to say his name!) Here’s what he looked like:

Me and zinzendorf

Zinzendorf was influenced by his godfather’s (P.J. Spener) pietism and the pietistic renewal movement in the Lutheran church – that faith (prayer and Bible study) should be personal and that we can relate directly to God – that religion should be from the heart, not the head. I’ve been quoting Karl Barth on this trip so I thought his comment on Zinzendorf would be fitting here; “Zinzendorf is perhaps the only genuine Christocentric of the modern age.”

The Lord’s Watch
Zinzendorf established a Christian community for oppressed religious minorities on his land. When a fleeing Moravian named Christian David showed up at his door, Zinzendorf welcomed him and invited him to invite others. A Moravian settlement was established on Count Zinzendorf’s land. When the community started to experience discord and division in 1727, Zinzendorf called them to prayer. They later named their praying community Herrnhut (Herren hut), which means “the Lord’s Watch.”

Initially, twenty-four people took one hour shifts during which they committed to pray – the Lord’s Watch. More joined the watch and this prayer watch went on unbroken until 1847. Throughout the decades hundreds attended these prayer meetings and worship services – many of the people were overwhelmed by the strong presence of God and would sing and lay prostrate on the floor for six to eight hours. The anointing touched the children and led to a revival among children.

Prayer births a mission movement
As Moravians at Herrnhut started to sense God’s missionary call to take the good news to the lost, they would hold funerals for the missionaries before they sent them off to places like Jamaica. (We found Moravian missionary graves when we were in Jamaica a couple years ago!) Imagine holding a funeral for someone who is about to leave because it was understood that the call of Jesus was to go give your life reaching lost people and that you’d not return in this life. To reach the slaves in Jamaica, the Moravian missionaries would sell themselves into slavery as it was the only way to gain access to Caribbean slaves. Stories of supernatural visitations and provision accompany each missionary account of the Moravians.

John Wesley wrote that he was led to Christ by a Moravian missionary from Herrnhut while sailing on a ship to America. When the ship was nearly overtaken by a storm, and he and the other passengers panicked, however the Moravian fellow on the ship was calm, had peace and prayed. In his revivals Welsey often talked about the “warming heart” moment of his born-again experience with the Moravian missionary.

Here is Caleb in the Moravian graveyard at Zinzendorf’s grave. About fifty yards away we found the grave of Christian David. This stuff comes alive when you read this book released a couple years ago from 24/7 Titles – Regal.

Zinzendorf's grave

The goal for Zinzendorf and his friend Christian David was to form ecclesiolae in ecclesia—”little churches within the church”—to act as a leaven, revitalizing and unifying churches into one communion. Caleb, I, and our good friend Andy spent several days out in Zinzendorf’s forest – it was a powerful time – a strong prophetic flow and presence of God – we even commanded storms with our prayers!  Here’s a pic of wet heads Andy and Caleb after that experience…

Commanding storms

We stumbled on places in the forest called “bandengrubens” – these were earthen dugouts with rock benches in a circle where Herrnhutters came each day to study the Bible together and pray. Caleb has plans to build a bandengruben dugout in our shelter belt along the creek at home. Here’s a bandengruben we found in Zinzendorf’s forest…

Bandengruben

In the forest we also found a well which is curiously named Isaac’s Well (all this is in Saxony – sacs sons – Isaac’s sons – some of you reading this know why I’m underscoring all of that). Here’s a pic of that memorable spot…

Isaacs Well Herrnhut

A new sound released in Christian worship – JOY
In the first 65 years of this Herrnhut prayer meeting 300 missionaries were sent and the modern missions movement was born. Also, equally significant, joy came back into Christian worship as the uplifting Moravian hymns were embraced by the church worldwide.  (Their music was led by trombone choirs – I bought a CD when I was there – wild stuff!) Isn’t this amazing… this a 100+ year long 24/7/367 prayer meeting produced the global missions movement and changed the worship expression of Christianity for generations. Here’s the prayer tower that now stands above the Moravian graveyard at Herrnhut.

Herrnhut prayer tower

Heads up – – the following is not rated PG. But I share what I’m about to share to show how good and Godly people are not perfect people and that even the greatest move of God has it’s fleshly moments. (I’ve also recently written here on what I see as one of Luther’s two faults). Some today throw the baby out with the bathwater in terms of those God is using today – they see the great work, but are unable to get over some doctrinal quirk the minister has, or whatever. (Relating this back Mike Bickle and to the difficult but incredible days of the KC Prophets, those who’ve never read his book “Growing in the Prophetic” will never see how Bickle was able to change the dirty bathwater without throwing out the baby.)

An unfortunate controversy
Zinzendorf was involved in an unfortunate controversy about the wound of Christ. During a later period of his life he started to reflect on the wound of Christ (In Latin, “wound” is a form of the word vulva–opening, vagina– no kidding). In all the crucifixion pictures of Jesus’ wound Zinzendorf noticed the wound of Christ indeed did bear a remarkable vulva-like resemblance. He postulated that the “wound” that gives life to all of humanity is the vulva of Jesus. He encouraged followers to visualise Christ’s vulva in great detail – critics hammered him for this intense psycho-erotic meditation on the wounds of Christ. Feminist theology today embraces this reasoning. Zinzendorf later backed off this sexually-charged theology and agreed it was aberrant.

Herrnhut today
Also, I want to report that the Jesus Haus in Herrnhut is emerging in the house of prayer and missionary flow that historically came from Herrnhut. It was a blessing to be with those folks in that community and we also so appreciated the hospitality of those at the YWAM base in Herrnhut. YWAM has an intercessory prayer training focus today at Herrnhut.

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