At this morining's services I had mixed feelings. 290 packets of prayer materials sat at the front, waiting for people to sign up for "40 days of prayer and fasting." Of course, for the preacher, it's encouraging to have a practical response built into the service. No one could fail to notice that something specific was supposed to happen after the sermon! Too many sermons can disappear into thin (hot) air....at least here tangible action was expected.
But, as I mentioned at the sermon's beginning, I had mixed feelings because people might easily see these packets as yet another "church program" - another good thing the pastors and leaders had planned for them! How often we are asked to sign up for 40 days of this, or that, or something else! So I pleaded for people to respond in spirit and truth to the promise John 16:.23-24: My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. .... Ask and you will receive , and your joy will be complete" To make commitment only if they had a measure of (1) childlike wonder trusting God as Father; (2) wanting to ask Him specifically together as Giver; (3) desiring to use Jesus' powerful name, and (4) anticipating joy.
Pastor Howard, who had organized these packets told me afterwards that he prayed for 275 people to take them. ( I am not quite sure why 275 exactly - presumably to leave just a few spare packets!) Anyway, at the end, 275 packets had gone with sign-up forms in their place. Of course, this is only the beginning of seizing this prayer promise. 40 days lie ahead. But Praise God for such a beginning! I am humbled as well as committed.