India is seeing a remarkable move of God. We met several people from India at the World House Church Summit who have more than 100,000 new believers in their networks. I interviewed a middle-aged housewife who is responsible for seeing more than 6,000 churches. I know that numbers are the world's way of judging success, and that God is more interested in our faithfulness and obedience than anything else. I also know that you cannot manufacture a move of God. But are there principles that they are applying that translate across cultures that help to produce such a movement?
As I have meditated on what we have seen in India over several visits, the first thing that strikes me is their commitment to prayer and prayer walking. We have an Indian friend who tried an experiment. He picked two villages. The first he prayer walked regularly before trying to reach out to the people who lived there. The second he did not. Forty-five families became believers in the first village. He was thrown out of the second one.
A similar experiment was tried in Phoenix, AZ, as documented in the book, The Praying Church Idea Book by Douglas A. Kamstra. The church randomly selected 160 names from the phone book and divided then into two groups. For 90 days they prayed for one group while they ignored the other. At the end of 90 days they called all 160 homes, identified themselves and offered to stop by and pray for the family and any needs they might have. Of the 80 homes that were not prayed for, only one person invited them in. From the 80 homes that were prayed for, 69 people invited them to come over and of those people, 45 invited them into their homes.
David Watson, who has seen more than 40,000 churches start in North India and more than 5,000 in Africa, surveyed his top 100 church planters to see if he could identify any common characteristics in the methods they used. The only one he found was a commitment to prayer. Even though these people mostly had jobs, they prayed 3 hours per day on their own and then 3 hours per day with their teams. Fasting was also important to them.
How does this translate into a Western culture where we are so busy and so preoccupied with many things? The last thing we want is some kind of legalistic "ought to" duty praying that somehow seeks to earn God's favor.
I remember when our business was seriously struggling a few years back. There was no sense of compulsion about praying for it. We wanted to pray for hours every day, initially out of desperation because we knew it was the only hope our business had of surviving, but it became an adventure and delight as we watched as the prayer produced results.
What will produce that kind of desire to pray for this nation and the nations?