It happens every January at Men’s Prayer Advance, the most-anticipated yearly event on my personal calendar.
Thursday afternoon, men from all over the country gather for three days of preaching, praying, and “like-a-reunion” fellowship. As the congregational singing begins, you can sense that this is going to be good and the preaching will be spot on, . . . but it’s not there yet.
Thursday evening, the singing is again filled with praise and the preaching is convicting and good, but it’s not there yet.
Then one of two major events occurs following the evening service . . . group prayer meetings. These groups consist of men from their own local church or with various others attending MPA. We are challenged to gather at our meeting location or back at the motel for a time of “CPR” praying. Each group prays through three rounds of prayer, which consists of Confession, Praise, and Requests. Each group is encouraged to get honest before the Lord. Each individual is challenged to get clean, not cleaner. As we work our way through CPR, we are in no hurry. Sometimes, the confession goes around several times and can last for awhile as does the praise and requests. These prayer meetings can last for an hour or on into the morning hours. Meeting with God in honest prayer changes hearts, changes lives!
Friday morning, some men are a bit tired from the long night, but all are deeply refreshed and ready for the morning sessions. The music and preaching are once again stirring and challenging, . . . we are not there, just yet.
Then comes the second most important event of the MPA, the Sweet Hour of Prayer. Each man is given a folded brochure that will help guide him through an hour of private prayer before the Throne of Grace (Matthew 6:5-8). For many first-timers, they find themselves asking, “How can I pray for one hour?” Well, let me just say that this question has been answered many times over the years with simply, “Wow! I ran out of time!” As men are located all over the campus inside and outside before the Throne of Grace, the touch of God comes upon us, and we can say, “I have seen the Lord!” Everything changes. Spiritual vision becomes clearer. Consciences are clean. Some trust Christ as their personal Savior. Homes and marriages are restored. Phone calls back home are made. Men are revived. (Psalms 51; 85:6; Isaiah 6:1-8)
What happens? It’s called prayer! You see, when we first come to MPA, so many of us have been “intoxicated” with all that this nasty world throws at us with its sin and satanic influence that it takes those two prayer events combined with the preaching of God’s Word to get us “dried out” and delighted in our God (Psalms 34:1-3; 37:4)!
Come Friday night, it’s on! There is an anticipation in the hearts of men that begins with the first song and carries through to the final amen (Psalm 100:1-5). The praise is glorious, the singing of 750 men is victorious, and the altar is filled with tender-hearted, broken, contrite men drawing ever nearer to God (Psalm 34:18; James 4:8)!
Then on Saturday, it’s time to hear one more message and reflect upon all that God has done in our hearts for His glory. We know we cannot take MPA with us, but the God of MPA never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5b-6). We know He will enable us to continue on for Him as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Peter 3:18).
You see, that’s why it’s call an Advance! The greatest advancements we make in our Christian lives are “on our knees” in prayer (Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 7:7-11)! As Harold Vaughan reminded us, “How refreshing to be clean in the presence of God!”