Executives. Missionaries. Hunters. Teens. Former drug addicts. Pastors. White-collar/blue-collar. Musicians. Sinners. Millennials. Fishermen. Unsaved. Broken. Hurting. Lonely. Spirit-filled. Disciples. Multi-cultural. And I could go on and on. This is a brief description of over 600 men that gathered in the mountains of Central Virginia for what is called Men’s Prayer Advance. Imagine that many men coming to sing, eat, worship, listen to preaching, pray, sleep, sing, eat, pray, listen to preaching, worship and watch the Spirit of God work and move! This is my third Advance in four years. This is the highlight of my year as far as a ministry event is concerned outside of my own church. Why is this Advance so special?
Uninhibited Worship – From the time the sessions begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday and end at noon on Saturday, I am in the midst of men singing with gusto, praising the Lord and letting the texts of the songs flood their hearts with praise that comes out through their voices! The songs include “It Is Well With My Soul,” “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners,” “In Christ Alone,” “I Will Rise,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” and “Father, I Adore You” just to name a very few. Imagine standing with men as described above singing with hands raised, shouts of joy, tears, and real meditation. I’m telling you, it has got to be a precursor to the heavenly praise that awaits us. Men . . . worshiping the Lord. I said, men.
Ambitious Praying – Ambitious is an adjective describing an attitude of prayer that is 1) “eagerly desirous to obtain success” (Dictionary.com) in believing, faith-filled prayer, 2) to have an earnest, eager desire for and in prayer, and 3) prayer that takes effort. That’s the kind of praying we were challenged to give our life to on a daily basis. That’s the kind of prayer demonstrated among the men attending the Advance. To hear over 600 men crying out to the Lord (Psalm 61:2) in fervent prayer as we gathered many times in the Spring Center was an awesome experience. Hands raised in pleading prayer; voices crying out in adoring praise and earnest petitions; tears flowing in brokenness before God; lives touched by the Spirit of God; and two men on Thursday night crying out to God for salvation (and testifying of it later on that night)!!! 600 plus men assembled before the Throne of Grace!!! Wow!! (By the way, no Super Bowl game holds a candle to that experience.)
The best part of the emphasis on prayer is what’s known as the “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” Before lunch on Friday, we go someone on the camp site and get alone with God for one hour. Here’s the statement that I’ve heard most from men after the “Sweet Hour of Prayer,”— “I didn’t know I could pray for one hour. It went by so quick!” Enough said.
Furthermore, I love what the name of this event says, Men’s Prayer Advance. We are not attending a retreat or in retreat mode. We are advancing in prayer!!
Spirit-empowered Preaching – Every message I heard was like fresh manna from Heaven. The power of God was upon the preachers as they delivered the Word with courage, compassion, and conviction leading to change. Sitting under the preaching of an Irishman who has walked with the Lord for years was like listening to a prophet of God. This man knows the heart of God and has learned His heart in the quiet place of personal prayer and the blessing of corporate prayer as well as meditation on God’s Word. The practical, applicational, straight-forward, “right down where we live” preaching of one of the other men was a touch down from Heaven, too! Powerful, Spirit-filled preaching exalts Christ and glorifies God. That is what we heard many, many times in the main sessions and break-out meetings. God honors the preaching of His Word!
Undistracted Meeting with God – There is something special about going way up in the mountains and getting away from so much that distracts us in our lives. Cell phone service was sketchy at best. The whole emphasis of the three days was simply meeting with God. Nothing else. May I say right here that every man of God should plan in his yearly schedule a time or two in the year to get away for a day to just simply meet with God in prayer and Bible study.
So, there’s just a brief out-pouring from my heart why the Men’s Prayer Advance is so special. Many, many times, in the moment of a song, prayer and/or preaching, I found myself saying, “I wish this would not end.” So often I felt like a sponge just soaking in all I could in the moment. Just think; that’s the way it will be in Heaven!
Men, are you advancing today?
Want to join us next year, January 28-30, 2016? Check out the following link: