I wasn’t sure what to think about a three-hour prayer rally … especially only two weeks into my internship.
Every month, One Mission Society (OMS) holds a prayer rally at the OMS World Headquarters in Indiana. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. homeland missionaries gather in the fellowship hall to pray, hear updates from various mission fields, worship in song, talk together in community, as well as participate in other activities usually centered on a specific theme for the rally.
I don’t think I’d ever prayed for an hour, let alone prayed for three. I didn’t know what to expect. Before walking into the fellowship hall, I wondered what it would feel like; would it be fast or slow, boring or engaging? I think the biggest hesitancy I had about the rally was the fact that the majority of OMS headquarters took three hours out of their work day. Would the rally feel like you were wasting precious work hours?
Of course, I didn’t want to admit my doubts about the prayer rally. So, I jumped in and hoped for the best.
We started the rally with worship songs. After that, the summer interns, as well as the newly-accepted missionaries went one-by-one to the podium to share briefly about ourselves. Then, the OMS staff prayed over us. They reached out their hands toward us at the different tables and called out words in a blessing of sorts.
I remember sitting at my table, smiling, as words like “courage,” “creativity,” “perseverance,” and “joy” were spoken over me.
We also spent a large portion of our time praying for our nation and the other nations in which OMS served. Half of the group surrounded our 30-plus flags outside and prayed specifically for each country, while the other half stayed inside to pray for the United States.
I stayed inside, but it was hard to pray for my country. Why should I pray for leaders I didn’t believe in or trust, for a nation I thought couldn’t get back up on its feet? My cynicism for my country boiled over in frustration. But when I heard others’ fervent prayers, when I saw the hope people had for our nation, I slowly rethought my initial reactions and realized how out of line I was about condemning my country in that manner. Who was I to condemn before praying for revival?
After that extended time of prayer, we also heard updates from a few OMS fields, including Haiti and the newly-completed Bon Repos project, which provided 36 homes and a church/school for an impoverished Haitian community. It was such a blessing to hear the stories and see the pictures and videos from Haiti. All of OMS was encouraged by that.
In no time at all, it was noon. I wanted more time to pray, to worship, to hear about what was happening around the world. For me, the prayer rally was challenging and peaceful. People had blessed me and had also frustrated and challenged my views and my prayer habits. I felt like God had softened my heart in those quick three hours.
I had the privilege of attending a second prayer rally before my internship ended. That time around, I was a lot more excited to go because I knew the blessings it would bring. Since my first prayer rally, I have noticed that God has changed me on the inside. I have learned more about what it means to pray without ceasing. I have learned that nothing is unworthy of prayer, whether that be the smallest detail in my life or a nation that the darkest part of my heart believes is too far gone to be revived. I have experienced the blessing it is to pray in community, as well as in private.
And most importantly, I have been able to understand and bathe in the peace and fulfillment that being in prayer brings—a peace that is full of the presence of God, a peace that whispers in your ear that ultimately being in God’s presence in prayer is enough.
But I’ve also learned that prayer is essential not just in personal lives, but also in an organization like OMS. Without prayer, OMS cannot do what it does. Because prayer is powerful. It works. It is more powerful than anything else OMS can ever do. It is our connection to God, the one for whom we do everything. So wouldn’t it make sense to dedicate a mere three hours a month to a prayer rally?
But it doesn’t have to stop there. OMS’ prayer rally is a focused outpouring in community, but I’ve noticed after working here for two months that the rally is just the tip of the iceberg. Prayer permeates everything OMS does, as it should. The day it doesn’t is the day OMS is not effective.
So, is the prayer rally a waste of precious work time? Absolutely not. Prayer comes first. Everything else is a reflection of prayer, our relationship with God, and his calling on our lives. It is the most important thing we can ever do.
By Jess Mitchell, summer Communications intern