The Blessing of Early Morning Prayer
Attending the Special Early Morning Prayer Rally and Seminar for Global Church Leaders at
Myung Sung (“Bright Voice”) Presbyterian Church in Seoul, Korea last spring changed my life.
What changed my life was not the excitement of gathering before dawn to worship God with thousands of Christians each morning, or hearing 800-1000 voice choirs sing praise to God with full orchestral accompaniment. What changed my life was not seeing hundreds of beautiful children sitting quietly at the feet of Pastor Kim, Sam-whan as he proclaimed the Word of God, prayed from a full heart, and spontaneously broke into gospel songs and joyous laughter morning by morning. What changed my life was not the extraordinary hospitality and love and generosity of the people of Myung Sung Church. What changed my life was not hearing, from Christians from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Ethiopia, story after story about how their families, communities and even nations had been impacted by the gospel of Jesus Christ that was brought to them by missionaries from Myung Sung Church.
All of those things touched me deeply. The purity and power of what God is doing at Myung Sung is truly inspiring.
But what changed my life was coming back to Hope UMC last March and implementing the simple spiritual practice that has been at the heart of the sustained supernatural revival that Myung Sung Church has enjoyed throughout its 37 year history.
What changed my life, and what I believe is now changing Hope UMC, is that we began to have Early Morning Prayer at Hope. For over a year now, believers have gathered in Hope’s Worship Center every day at 6 am (except for Friday, when we go to Men’s Bible Study at Brunswick Church at 5:30 am, and Sunday, when we have other opportunities for worship, prayer and fellowship) to sing praise to God, be nourished by the Word of God, and to cry out to God at the Throne of Grace.
To be sure, Hope’s Early Morning Prayer is a little different than Myung Sung’s! They have about 30,000 daily participants. We have 5. They have world-class music. We have a bunch of guys croaking out hymns. But the same Lord Jesus Christ that is present and powerful and faithfully working in and among and through the people of Myung Sung Church, is present and powerful and faithfully working in and among and through us, too!
And guess what? When Christians come to Jesus day by day and offer their lives to Him; when Christians come to Jesus morning by morning with empty hands and open hearts, ready to receive His grace and marching orders for the day, you start to see the Kingdom of God springing up in undeniable and wonderful ways!
New people are coming to worship with us. Hearts and minds are opening like budding trees in springtime. Love and faith are growing abundantly. We are living up to our name: Hope is alive among us! We are looking with confident expectation to see God keep His promises among us. People are gathering in homes to pray and seek the Lord. There is less striving and more prayer. Less fear and more faith. Less concern about ourselves and a growing awareness is that Jesus is leading us out of the walls of our church building and into the world that He died and rose to save.
Is there a direct connection between these changes at Hope and people “awakening the dawn” at Hope? The folks at Myung Sung have no doubt about it. They know that God works through Early Morning Prayer to equip and empower the Body of Christ for vital ministry and mission. That’s why they were so excited to hear about Early Morning Prayer at Hope when I returned to Myung Sung earlier this month, and why they are so eager to pray for God’s continuing work among us!
Here’s the thing: What God is doing at Myung Sung is extraordinary. It’s breath-taking. You’d be hard put to find another church so alive in Christ, so solidly grounded in God’s Word, so thoroughly committed to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. BUT WHAT GOD IS DOING AT MYUNG SUNG IS WHAT GOD IS READY, WILLING, AND ABLE TO DO ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE THAT BELIEVERS ARE WILLING TO OFFER UP THEIR LIVES TO JESUS DAY BY DAY.
Do you know what one of the biggest changes in my life was when we began Early Morning Prayer at Hope? My bedtime. In order to get to Early Morning Prayer, I had to start going to bed an hour earlier than I used to. My flesh hated it then and still hates it now.
But a year later, I can honestly tell you: it’s worth it.