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5 Core Values

5. To fervently pray for God’s favor and help as we serve Him with pure hearts
and noble purpose

Houses of Prayer

By Christina Quick

When Pastor Tim Leathers arrived seven years ago at Heartland Fellowship Church in Wilton, Iowa, the Assemblies of God congregation was on the verge of collapse.

“The district had slated it to close,” Leathers says. “It was running about 30 or 40 people. All the ministries other than the Sunday morning service had been shut down. The only thing we knew to do was to pray.”

Leathers called for a Wednesday night prayer gathering, and a small band of intercessors responded. As the group met weekly to seek God’s intervention in the church and community, changes began to take place. Attendance gradually rose, new converts responded, people were healed and filled with the Holy Spirit, and volunteers stepped forward to lead ministries.

“There’s no other thing we can point to that has caused our church to grow other than people praying,” Leathers says. “It’s the heartbeat of our church.”

Today the church’s sanctuary, which seats about 140, is bursting at the seams. With little space to build at its current location, the congregation may soon meet at the local community center to accommodate the Sunday morning crowd, Leathers says.

There is one construction project in the works, however. The church is adding an upstairs prayer room that will be accessible to church members at all times. When there is a special need in the church, a team of intercessors will pray there in shifts around the clock.

“It’s going to be dedicated as a holy place of prayer,” Leathers says. “We’re excited about it. As a church, we’ve learned the importance of connecting with God.”

John Maempa, director of the Assemblies of God National Prayer Center, says many churches around the country have made the same discovery.

“Commitment to prayer is a common denominator in every dynamic, growing, discipleship-oriented church,” Maempa says. “Prayer acknowledges our dependence on God. Prayer invites God’s presence. And through the power of agreement, prayer moves God’s hand in peoples’ lives and circumstances. Prayer connects us with one another as we bear one another’s burdens.”

Casa del Rey, a large and predominantly Spanish-speaking Assemblies of God congregation in Albuquerque, N.M., has a team of 60 intercessors that prays for every service, ministry and outreach connected with the church.

“We have 58 ministries in the church, and every one of them is tied into prayer directly or indirectly,” says Ruben Guajardo Jr., senior pastor. “When our people go out and minister, some of the intercessors go with them. They pray before, during and after every event.”

The church has an upstairs prayer tower with windows that overlook the city. A women’s prayer group meets there every Tuesday, and a men’s prayer event is held on Saturdays. Staff members spend about two hours praying together twice a week.

“We wholeheartedly believe with Jesus that His Father’s house should be a house of prayer,” Guajardo says.

In addition to its other prayer ministries, the church operates a 24-hour prayer hotline that is open to the entire city.

“I’ve seen firsthand how the intercessory prayer and all the elements of prayer have brought tremendous spiritual benefits,” Guajardo says.

Mount Hope Church in Lansing, Mich., also has a facility designated for prayer ministry. With 160 trained intercessors praying around the clock, it is a busy place.

“It’s so touching to see these people as they begin to get God’s heartbeat,” says Mary Jo Williams, who oversees the prayer team. “Nobody ever feels qualified, but I just encourage them that with God, we can do all things.”

The church operates a prayer hotline and provides annual training for intercessors.

Williams, wife of Senior Pastor Dave Williams, says commitment to prayer has kept the large congregation dependent on God and sensitive to His Spirit.

“Prayer and spiritual vitality, individually and corporately, are inseparably linked,” Maempa says.

CHRISTINA QUICK is a freelance writer and former Pentecostal Evangel staff writer. She lives in Springfield, Mo., and attends Central Assembly of God.

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