by Toddy Cathey
BROKEN AROW—Since January, Broken Arrow, Arrow Heights has been focusing on a year of prayer (January-August) and evangelism (September-December). The year began with a campaign to Pray, Pursue and Persuade the lost.
Pastor Bob Green led the church in an eight-month sermon series on prayer. These foundations paved the way for the first-ever summer home prayer groups at Arrow Heights, and the first-ever Prayer Empowering Weekend (PEW) in the State of Oklahoma.
Because no curriculum was available, Todd Cathey, associate pastor of church development, wrote a nine-week curriculum for the summer home prayer groups (June-August). Each week had a special prayer focus (e.g., praying for persecuted saints), reading of a Psalm, time of reflection, silent confession of personal sins, repentance for the church and repentance for the nation. Each session also focused on biblical accounts of revivals, such as those led by Josiah, Hezekiah, Moses, Samuel and Elijah.
Summer home prayer groups were led by lay facilitators of Arrow Heights and met in various homes on Sunday nights (6-8). The groups were comprised of LIFEgroups (Sunday School) that met in homes plus a few groups that met at the church. At the final prayer group, participants evaluated the home prayer groups using a five-point, Likert-type questionnaire. Participants indicated they have a deeper awareness of their need to be involved in prayer with other Christians (4.3 on a 5-point scale), a deeper awareness of their personal need for prayer (4.2 on a 5-point scale), a deeper awareness of how God moved through His people during biblical times (4.1 on a 5-point scale) and their personal prayer lives have increased (3.8 on a 5-point scale).
Every participant who completed a questionnaire indicated a desire to continue meeting in home prayer groups in one of the following ways: weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, 5th Sunday night or quarterly. All comments on open-ended questions were positive. Examples included: “We grew very close to one another and the Lord during our meetings. We are all looking for ways to share our faith with the lost.” “Awareness of how quickly God can change things.” “Helped to develop deeper, intimate relationships with others on a spiritual level. To understand the need for revival among our church and nation.” “Decreased anxiety of praying aloud in the group.” “Awareness and desire of praying.” “Helped get through some tough situations in my life. Allowed me to pray for my fellow Christians.” “We grew even stronger in our bond in designating more time to pray together and for each other.”
In addition to increased spirituality and prayer awareness, Sunday night attendance increased from an average of around 30 attendees (including children) using a traditional service format in summer 2009 to an average attendance of 104 (excluding children and childcare workers) in summer 2010 using a summer prayer group format.
The prayer emphasis of Arrow Heights culminated in a Prayer Empowering Weekend (PEW), Aug. 20-22. It was preceded with a 24-hour prayer vigil on Aug. 19, coordinated by Arrow Heights laymen, Gary and Sky Merryman. The PEW was led by a group of 60 laymen (men, women and children) from across the United States, who traveled as far away as South Carolina to Broken Arrow at their own expenses.
PEW was directed locally by laymen from Arrow Heights, Wayne Tiller (coordinator), and Oklahoma City, Daryl Rainey (administrator). The weekend included worship, teaching/preaching, small group prayer sessions, prayer walks and fellowship dinners. Lowell Snow of Arkansas led four teaching/preaching sessions on prayer. Each session had a different focus (e.g., how to pray in public). The 60 out-of-town laymen taught age-graded children’s classes for preschool through 12th grade, led small group prayer sessions (breakout sessions), prayer walks, men’s and women’s prayer sessions and gave testimonies.
During the PEW, one person accepted Christ, 10 rededicated their lives and 14 surrendered to Christ’s lordship. The weekend concluded with an evaluation/testimony service of verbal and written testimonies. According to evaluation questionnaires, 69.56 percent indicated a desire for the church to continue a renewal journey, 58.69 percent indicated a desire to develop a personal quiet time, and 18.47 percent indicated that the PEW gave them a desire to share their faith. Like the results from the summer home prayer groups, all comments on open-ended questions on the questionnaire were positive.
Examples include: “The Lord answered our prayers. It was a wonderful blessing. Our church needed this for many years. May we continue to grow in the Lord and rely on His spirit always.” “I have realized my prayer life had not been what it should be.” “A very inspiring weekend—made me renew my commitment to pray for my family, my church, the lost.” “God spoke! Helped us interact with other members. Inspiring.” “Complete surrender—I want ‘yes’ to be my auto-response. Most excellent! Life-changing!” “Rededicate to develop a prayer with my wife and family.” “I was blessed and encouraged by hearing the testimonies of other church members! I am excited about getting a prayer partner and more prayer time with my husband. Also, praying in a new and different way.”
Todd Cathey is associate pastor of church development at Broken Arrow, Arrow Heights.