Three Days of Prayer.
For the second time in the association's history, LCMC Service Coordinator Rev. Mark Vander Tuig invited members of LCMC to start off the New Year with three consecutive days of prayer, focused on confession, petition and vision, and organized in any way that made sense to the participants.
The goal? To see LCMC become more and more a people of prayer.
"We too often see prayer as the last resort, and even as an acknowledgement of defeat. But it is not! It is the greatest and most effective thing we can do," Rev. Vander Tuig said.
Based on a survey conducted during the month of January, 52% of people who took part in the event this year were first-timers.
Hosting prayer services or vigils and distributing prayer booklets proved to be the most popular methods for organizing the three days, and an effective way to encourage participation from congregation members.
One such congregation, Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Maple Lake, MN, distributed themed pamphlets to its members each day and hosted prayer vigils, which were attended by 45 people, each night. "People really enjoyed the prayer stations on "Petition Day", Pr. Culynn Curtis said. "Although it was part of our worship service, these Lutherans got out of the chair, focused on an object and offered prayers of petition for themselves, family and friends, creation, the world, the hungry and homeless, and those in need of healing."
Over a third of the people surveyed also reported coming up with other creative ways to boost participation and emphasize the importance of prayer.
"We offered a prayer clock to each person. These were distributed in the bulletin and via email from the pastor. The clock consisted of 3 areas of prayer for each hour of the day, " said Linda Lerum of First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Idaho Falls, ID. "We had three areas for prayer in each hour: One, to praise God for who He is using the attribute listed; Two, to thank God for what He has already done; and Three, to ask God for the needs listed on that hour, [at] which there was three requests: a person (staff), a ministry team, and a mission we support outside our walls."
For other LCMC-ers, the event was an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the power of prayer.
Hawley Lutheran Church of Hawley, MN encouraged participation by offering people a chance to submit written prayer requests and conducting a prayer walk. "Prayer is intimidating to a lot of people, so our goal is to try to make our prayer experiences less intimidating; more practical," said Pastor Jeff Teeples.
Others thought even further outside the box, thinking up creative ways to help people with weekday commitments find time to participate.
Congregation members at First Lutheran Church of Washburn, ND were invited to lunch, complete with a speaker and time set aside for prayer, on each of the three days. Many students and working people were able to attend the event on their lunch hour. Judy Beaudry, who helped coordinate the event, enjoyed the fact that many of the congregation's younger families were able to attend.
When asked what their favorite part of Three Days of Prayer was this year, 31% of people mentioned that they enjoyed praying together as a congregation and/or as part of LCMC as a whole. Another 31% of people enjoyed the event's focus on Confession, Petition, and Vision.
"I prayed on my knees each day. It felt good to emphasize national and international concerns with other LCMC-ers who were doing the same," said, John Magness of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Braunfels, TX.
Many others seemed to agree.
"One participant said that it was so refreshing to pray together, they wished we could have a prayer service every month! We will have to think about that," said Lila de Waal, a Diaconal Minister at Victory Lutheran Church in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
"I personally felt an amazing presence of the Holy Spirit the moment I walked through the door. All my cares, burdens, and worries were lifted and [this] allowed me to have peace. It was awesome. I felt 'blessed' to have this experience," said Rhonda Zingler of Gloria Dei Lutheran in Tomah, WI.
Next year's Three Days of Prayer is set to take place from January 6-8, 2015.
"I think it is something that should continue year after year," said Pr. Frank Remski. "It gives you a time of reflection and calmness."
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