Forty Days of Morning Prayer (Romans 12, Issue 258)
Issue 258 — December 3, 2015
Forty Days of Morning Prayer
The Korean United Methodist Church of South Suburban Chicago believes in the importance of lay leadership. To encourage spiritual formation within the congregation and to equip lay leaders with knowledge and skills for sharing the word of God, the Korean United Methodist Church of South Suburban Chicago holds an annual 40 days of Morning Prayer that is led by laity. This special service is held at 5:30 a.m., Monday through Saturday for 40 days during the Lenten season. The pastor presents a specific theme for the 40 sessions of scriptural meditation, such as “The 40 days in Wilderness,” using the book of Exodus or “The 40 people Jesus met” discovered in the New Testament. Then the pastor assigns 40 speakers from the congregation for each day to study the theme and deliver a message. The pastor also provides the printed words of the biblical texts, prayer requests, and the list of hymns and songs for a sing-along time for each service.
Laity typically have not played an active role in the worship service at the Korean UMC South Suburban Chicago, especially in sharing the gospel message. They had just received the message delivered by clergy. They were not being challenged to study the biblical passages and witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason, the South Suburban Chicago Korean UMC was determined not only to equip the laity to lead the Morning Prayer worship service, but also to give laity a chance to discover the gospel message that comes from their encounter with God through the process of preparation and delivery of the Word of God for the people of God.
It was not an easy task for the laity to take on the role of preaching from the pulpit. However, they brought testimonies about how great the experience was as they struggled with the biblical passages and prayed for God’s help that led them to insightful learning and spiritual awareness. Through the process of preparation and practice to speak the word of God in front of the congregation, they grew in spiritual awareness as well as in knowledge of the Bible. They learned through prayer to integrate their study on the biblical passages and their real life experiences into the message. These leaders are now actively teaching and caring for small-group Bible studies.
The 40 days of Morning Prayer service helps the congregation come close to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and motivates them to share the spiritually-awakening good news with others.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Prayer and witness are essential for the ministry of all Christians. How does your congregation develop a prayerful life and equip the congregation to witness to the gospel message?
- How and in what ways is your congregation encouraged to take on the active role of lay servant leadership?
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
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