My Dear Friends,
This year has been a year of emphasis on prayer in our church. We “revived” The Praying Church and these moments spent in prayer together have enriched our spiritual lives in a tremendous way.
Last month we were introduced to the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, by Jim Cymbala. We passed out copies and asked only that we read the book right away, write our name on the inside cover, and give it to someone else to do the same.
Deacon Beverly McGahee shared the following “book review” with us and I want to share it with you:
I would like to tell you about a book I have just read. It is called “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” and it’s a book about PRAYER: real prayer…honest prayer, fervent prayer… ‘down on your knees before the Lord’ prayer. It’s also a book about how often real prayer is missing from our churches and how we need to bring it back. With real prayer comes the transforming power of God, through the Holy Spirit.
Jim Cymbala is the author and he is the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, a huge non-denominational church in the inner city (Brooklyn, NY.) This is a church surrounded by masses of people wallowing in sin, crime, drugs, sadness and poverty. The book tells the story of how Jim started out in this church in the early 70’s after receiving the call from God to minister there. His father-in-law had asked him to be a guest preacher for four Sunday night services at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.
(Jim Cymbala grew up in Brooklyn, went off to college, played basketball for the Naval Academy and the University of R.I. He did NOT study to be in the ministry, but married the daughter of a minister and under his influence and guidance, opened himself up to God and received the call in his late 20’s.)
When Jim walked into the Brooklyn Tabernacle he knew this church had BIG problems. It was falling apart…literally. The building was in bad shape, the offering was almost nothing and someone was stealing from that. Less than twenty people were attending and the church service, itself, was chaotic. After Jim’s first Sunday night as guest minister, the regular pastor resigned.
Jim was then given the opportunity to lead this church. He was skeptical but he answered the call and became a strong leader with first and foremost an emphasis on relying on God for EVERYTHING! They had to, because they had no other resources. I won’t tell you everything about it (because we want you to read the book) but God heard their prayers blessed this church in an amazing way. Today it has over 10,000 members and has started numerous other churches in the U.S. and elsewhere. They have an amazing 280 voice choir that has sung in Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and many other places. They have three or four services on Sunday and meet regularly for prayer on Tuesdays at noon and for a 7:00 p.m. service. AND they continue to minister to those in need of Jesus, all around them.
That is very impressive and this book will tell you how all of it came about but I need to stop here to say: THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT HOW TO GROW A BIG CHURCH!! This book is about how to rely on God. How to pray to God. How to let God lead….how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This book is about changing hearts and getting back to the main thing. It’s about growing our relationship with God, as an individual and as a church. It’s about Christians leaning on God and God doing the growing of His church.
Jim Cymbala helps us to see how our modern churches have so often become stale and drifted away from the basics of our faith. We NEED fresh wind and fresh fire from heaven to blow through us, igniting us in service to Christ. How do we get fresh wind and fresh fire?? “Down on our knees in prayer,” says Jim. He also says, “God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him…..God has chosen prayer as His channel of blessing.” We simply have to humble ourselves and ask for His help.
We are issuing a challenge…..We’d like everyone in our church to read this book as a way for the body of Christ at 216 N. Main Street to come together in thought and to pray for fresh wind and fresh fire to move through us. Copies are circulating throughout the congregation. Please seek a copy of this book. Many books were passed out at The Praying Church on August 25. Members are asked to read the book within two weeks (it’s just eleven short chapters), write your name on the front page and then pass the book along to another member who will commit to reading it and passing it along.
Jim Cymbala says, “If we prevail in prayer, God will do what only He can do. How He does things, when He does them and in what manner are up to Him. The name of Jesus, the power of His blood, and the prayer of faith have NOT lost their power over the centuries.”