One of my fondest memories of 2016 is with reference to one of the most profitable activities of the year—attendance at an early Wednesday morning prayer meeting. I am looking forward to continuing this in the coming year. To gather with praying men is a great way to start a day. The aim of this article is to encourage more men to participate in this blessing. May the Lord continue to grow a tribe of praying men.
Let me begin by explaining how this prayer meeting has come about.
A few years ago, Tommie van der Walt began to meet to pray with a few men, at the church office building, at 5:00 AM each Wednesday. They were motivated by the mutual desire for accountability and to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. They agreed to meet in order to pray for their own spiritual and material needs, for their families, and for their various leadership responsibilities. They prayed for many other things as well. The group began to grow and I think that at one point there were as many fifteen men praying weekly. Eventually there were two groups, the 5:00 AM group and another at 6:00 AM.
In early April this year, the day before the van der Walts left for their overseas assignment, I was invited (along with several others) to gather with these praying men for an hour of prayer and then for a breakfast at Fournos restaurant. I listened as brothers shared what Tommie, and these prayer meetings, had meant to them. The desire was expressed that this praying initiative would continue long after Tommie boarded his plane. And it has.
As I said, this was my first time to attend the prayer meeting. But it was the beginning of a regular pattern. I was deeply blessed by the fellowship, and by the sincere desire of these praying men to humble themselves before the Lord—at such an early hour! So I made the decision to continue to gather with these praying men.
Quinton Starkey is the organiser (and, along with his brother Jonathon, they are also the caffeine enablers!). It has been my pleasure to gather as one of “the boys” without being in charge of anything. Though I am currently the oldest and greyest of the praying men, these praying men have not rubbed it in (too much, anyway). And from the attire of some at that early hour, it is clear that praying men don’t care much about appearances (though thankfully, they care about brushing their teeth!).
But seriously, this regular meeting has proven to be a blessing as the brothers share praises and burdens intermingled with prayer requests. The men then break up into smaller groups (usually 3 or 4 people) and pray. The early group is finished around 6:00 AM and the latter group finishes by 7:00 AM.
It has been beneficial for me to listen to what my brothers are experiencing in their lives, both the ups and the downs. At times here have even been tears. The intimacy is constructive for building transparent relationships, as well as for reminding us of our dependence upon the Lord. (See last week’s article, “Pride and Prayerlessness.”)
Though when my alarm sounds at 4:25 AM I usually need to have a little talk with myself, I am always grateful that I made the effort to gather. Praying with fellow church members is a wonderful way to start the day. It is particularly a blessing when we receive word from one another of God’s answers to many of our prayers.
It is because of these blessings that I want to take this opportunity to encourage all of our men at BBC to be praying men, and if possible, to join with other praying men. The 5:00 AM group gathers at the church offices while the 6:00 AM group gathers at Ryan Butterworth’s practice. A WhatsApp group keeps everyone updated as far as venue, time and various request and answers. Quintin is happy to add your name; just let him know.
This is neither a closed (“exclusive”) group, nor of course is it a required gathering. Rather, it is an all-inclusive gathering of men who see their need of God’s grace and who therefore willingly cry out to Him in praise and petition. It is merely a group of praying men. All are welcome to share in the blessing.