Hearing the phrase "Concert of Prayer" may be unfamiliar to many of you.
We hear the word "concert" usually associated in music, for an instrumental or vocal performance (according to my Webster's New World Dictionary). And in our unfamiliar phrase "concert of Prayer", music does play a role. There is also another definition: mutual agreement. "Prayer" is a much more familiar word to many of us" [again, thanks to Webster] a humble entreaty made to God, or an earnest request. Putting them together: by mutual agreement we gather together to humbly make an earnest request to God.
On a practical level then, what IS a Concert of Prayer? Rumor has it that it could last a full 2 hours, and praying for that long can be so boring! Rest assured, it is not boring. There are various facets to it that keep it moving, and in fact, opportunities to even move your body some so that you are not sitting idly for 120 minutes. No chance for sleeping here!
During the first half, there is a 15-20 minute period of praise and worship music, with perhaps even a hymn or two included. This is followed by a short devotional time. Next is the first prayer time. The emphasis during this time is for local concerns; for example the up-coming elections in Burlington, safety in our schools, or needs within First Baptist church. The evening's facilitator will take requests from the group and write them on a board. Participants are then encouraged to break up into smaller groups of 3-4 people to focus this prayer time on these named requests. After 15-20 minutes everyone gathers back together for part two. More music. This second half has a missions emphasis, so an invited speaker would have a chance to share about the on-going work in a current mission facility, like a homeless shelter, the Baptist Home, or a foreign mission project. This speaker would then list several specific prayer needs associated with this facility. Again, these request would be written on the board. Once again, people separate into groups of 3-4. You may even be encouraged to gather with different people for this prayer opportunity.
Given the location of this Concert of Prayer, First Baptist Church, Burlington, NJ, it is quite possible that English will be the main language, if not the only language, spoken during this time; however, different dialects may be used (for instance, Jersey and Bostonian)
James 5:16 tells us that "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." And Paul encouraged the Ephesians in chapter 4 verse 18 to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on prayer for all the saints."
This may be a new prayer experience for you; please don't be intimidated by it. Maybe praying out loud is not in your comfort zone. That's okay; come anyway! Silent prayers are just as welcome. This is one more way for us to honor God.
By mutual agreement we gather together to make an earnest request to God: Concert of Prayer. It truly is a beautiful thing.