Preserving Prayer in Hearts and in Churches
My God-story is my life story. My life today is the direct result of prayers for me by people who loved me. God heard and answered them. Prayer has always been the most important part of my journey. That is why I am so passionate about dedicating my life to prayer ministry. As Prayer Ministries coordinator for the Southeastern California Conference (SECC) and Pacific Union, my greatest joy is watching God work in the lives of the people for whom I and other prayer warriors pray.
My personal journey to Christ is the direct result of my grandmother’s, mother’s, and aunt’s faithful prayers. Even though I grew up in the church, I was involved in high school and activities. I had no plans to become an Adventist. I did not give my life to Christ until I attended Pacific Union College for nursing school. It was in this positive spiritual environment that I found Jesus.
During that time my then-boyfriend—now my husband—Lynn was attending Sacramento State College on a boxing scholarship. When I made my decision to follow Jesus, he started to study the Bible. The prayers that shaped my decision also shaped his, and we were baptized together in the Sacramento Central church.
Together, we made the decision not only to give our lives to Christ but to also serve Him in ministry. Lynn transferred to Pacific Union College to study theology. We have served the Lord together ever since, I as a pastor’s wife with my husband in evangelism and church administration across the North American Division. We are currently pastoring the Los Alamitos church in the Southeastern California Conference.
I became formally involved in prayer ministry when my husband was president of the Hawaii Conference and prayer ministry was recognized by the union as an official ministry. When we moved back to the mainland, I was asked to be the prayer leader for SECC, and then for the Pacific Union. I have been privileged to watch God grow this ministry into a worldwide ministry over the years. What was a small beginning has become a worldwide movement.
Why is prayer so powerful? To answer that question, I can only share what God has done in my life and what I have seen Him do in other’s lives.
I am privileged to watch Him heal the sick, clean up messy and impossible situations, transform broken lives, and create ministries for those who want to serve. I am privileged to pray with parents whose children do not know God or who are prodigals. There are so many stories I can share of witnessing the power of prayer. I think of the teenage couple whose lives were in turmoil—homeless, unmarried and pregnant, on drugs, no jobs or high school education. Over the period of a few months, we watched God work in their lives. Family relationships were healed, they got off drugs, got jobs and high school diplomas, studied the Bible, and finally accepted Jesus as their Savior. This precious couple was transformed from extreme brokenness to wholeness.
Ministering to people through prayer is one of the biggest blessings of my life. I get to sit on the front row and watch God at work in a personal way in the lives of so many people and in churches.
It is important to be persevering in prayer, pushing through until the answer comes. Sometimes this takes years. I have prayed for years with parents who wanted more than anything for their son to know the Lord. Even when it seemed as though the Lord was not answering, we prayed anyway. Just recently, that son gave his life to Christ and made the decision to serve Him in ministry.
While we wait for the answer, it is important to remember Jesus wants our children even more than we do. Ordinary prayers reap extraordinary answers, but perseverance is the key. It is important to continue to pray for the burdens that God lays on our hearts—especially when the answer does not come immediately.
Passionate and persevering prayer is just as necessary and equally transformative for our churches. The Pacific Union prayer team meets faithfully every Tuesday morning to pray for our union, its leadership, and the challenges they face. Each conference in the union also prays for its leaders and constituency on a regular basis.
My vision is to see prayer ministry as the very foundation of every ministry in the church. My dream is for every church to be a prayer-saturated church—a church where every member is a praying member, making it a true house of prayer. When God gives His people a great task, He expects His people to pray with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. We cannot do the work ourselves. According to Zechariah 4:6, it is His Spirit, not our own might or power, that will accomplish all that needs to be done.
Churches that have become true houses of prayer will display unity and increased fruit in their ministry. They will pray for revival and experience the tangible presence of God in their congregations. I dream that our constituents will develop a lifestyle of prayer and a relationship with Jesus that will change our church and our world so Jesus can come.
We cannot work with God to build His kingdom without His leadership for leaders, our churches, and constituency. If we call on the Lord, He has promised to answer, to save the lost, to pour out His spirit among us, and to be attentive to our prayers. If we do not call, He has promised nothing. The power of His grace and Spirit for His work are only unleashed through a relationship with Him through prayer.
As Prayer Ministries coordinator, I help equip and train local church prayer leaders and congregations to develop a culture of prayer. Prayer Ministries also organizes and leads out in providing prayer support for evangelism, church ministries, leadership, and events. We also organize special events like prayer-focused retreats, breakfasts, and conferences. I also work with the North American Division Prayer Ministries team to develop materials for prayer ministry. I am happy to work with your church and prayer teams to develop prayer strategies that will work for your church. One of the upcoming events in the Pacific Union Conference is the Prayer Conference in Hawaii from August 5 to 7. It is open to everyone.
I believe that God is calling each of us to a deeper relationship with Him and an extraordinary prayer life. Nothing is too hard for Him. He calls us all to be intercessors. Will you be His prayer partner? He is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God! Don’t ever give up on praying, no matter how impossible your situation seems.
My life took a radical turn the night I prayed the words, “God help me to know you deeply, hear your voice, see what you see, and love with your heart. Make me willing to be willing. Give me faith and trust.” I know He will do the same for you and for your church, through prayer.
For more information on Prayer Ministries, email Karen Martell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Martell is the prayer ministries coordinator for the Pacific Union Conference.