2 First of all, then, I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people. 2 Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and it pleases God our savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4, Common English Bible).
It started out as a prayer meeting some forty years before. This prayer meeting had detractors. Those who attended the prayer meeting were harassed and threatened . Still, Monday night after Monday night people came to the prayer meeting at the old church in the former East Germany.
The group started to grow and the police began to notice. One night following the service several attendees along with the leadership of the group encountered a group of police and were attacked. Still people kept coming and praying. They prayed for their nation, freedom, and peace.
Prayer wasn’t encouraged in East Germany and prayers for freedom and peace would have been banned.
The group continued to grow and then something happened. The government let people leave the country to immigrate to parts of Europe and the world. When immigrants left, their places were taken by people determined to work for change. They came back to church, drawing spiritual strength for their struggle.
The police continued their attacks on members of the prayer group. September 4, 1989 the pastor and a small group were attacked.
Instead of retaliation, the pastor started teaching the principles of nonviolent resistance made known by Gandhi and Martin Luther King and the group continued to grow and pray.
They picked up a name, becoming known as The New Form which would eventually become the opposition party.
They were a determined group who wouldn’t quit growing. The more they prayed, the more people came. On September 25, 1989 more than 6000 people packed the cathedral of St. Nickolas. There were another 25,000 waiting outside to join the protest march. Why pray in a nation living under an atheist ideology?
Why bother? Russia got this ideology thirty years. Nothing there changed. It seemed God abandoned them. There might even be some people arguing, “…can’t blame God for abandoning them? A century of history held two world wars and brought Hitler to power.
Most East Germans probably admit they don’t deserve help from God but, neither do we. We all sin.
The East German’s prayer was simple and they knew God had not left. They knew simple prayer had impact. Their prayers did. Their prayer was to change their nation. They prayed for freedom. Prayer changes things.
These folks prayed that God would change things. They prayed for the ability to make change. If I want to give up a bad habit I change. It may not be easy, but I can do it. It’s easier if God is helping me break that habit.
There are also things we can’t change. Only God can make a way. Only God can fix it.
The East German story uses breakthrough prayer for a nation or part of a nation. Perhaps I should have used the title “Breakthrough Prayer for the Government” but we all need to focus on our local communities.
In the year I have been here there has been a great deal of talk around town about the ways Diboll has changed and little of that discussion should be called good. I’m not sure it is really anyone’s fault. Things just happen.
The world changes whether we like it or not. Since Temple has sold people seem a more apprehensive about our collective futures. What happens of Georgia-Pacific were to decide to close up shop and head out of town? And that is just the first in a long list of questions. It seems to me, putting an answer to that question is more than any of us can do. It isn’t in our power to create a solution. I am not sure who the folks even are who would have the authority to make that decision. What I do know is One who has the power to overcome any setback we may face, individually, as a congregation or as a city, a community. But, for these things to happen we’ve got to talk about the whys and hows and even the issues themselves and I don’t mean with each other. We all need to be in prayer for our cities.
To be in prayer for our cities involves what Paul refers to as supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings to be made for everyone but specifically addresses leaders, kings and all who are in high positions. We have leaders in high positions. We have mayors, the city council, (the city managers), the police and fire chiefs and others who make decisions. We need to remember state and national leaders too.
When that small group of Christians started their prayer meetings in East Germany, would you have thought their prayers might would be answered in such a powerful way? Great things can happen when people pray.
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved