First Person: A commitment reborn at the Prayer Summit

By Gary Derbyshire, Photos by Hannah Trusley | Feb 7, 2023

As a lead pastor, I would like to say my prayer life is what it should be. However, I admit that far too often my focus is on the other demands of ministry.

I would also like to say that my church’s prayer ministry is what it should be. However, I admit that, far too often, prayer is merely a means for us to transition between portions of the worship service. We leap to work in the harvest before praying for the harvest.

Even worse, I am constantly under conviction by Scripture like Matthew 9:38, Acts 6:4, Romans 12:12, 1 Timothy 2:8 and many more, telling me that before we can do anything for God, we must do it through God, and if we are to do anything through God in ministry, we must constantly come to God in prayer!

So, when Pastor Jeremiah Semmler at CityView Church told me that his church was hosting a Prayer Summit for our association of churches and any others who wished to come, I thought, “Yes, Lord! Help me!”

From the very beginning, I could tell God was at work. The first portion of the 2023 Prayer Summit was a training session for pastors and ministry leaders to learn practical and edifying ways to lead groups of Christians to pray together with “Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, worship-based prayer.” About 80 pastors and other church leaders from all over the state, representing multiple ethnicities and four languages, were in attendance.

Paul Meldrum, regional director of The 6:4 Fellowship, which trains churches in prayer and word-based ministry, led this session with a great mix of instruction and group prayer time. At one point during his instruction, Paul said, “When we work, we work. But when we pray, God works!” The time flew by as we learned to pray together audibly, briefly and clearly in a way that was biblical, inclusive and organized.

The evening finished out with the second portion, which was open to anyone who wanted to pray with believers from surrounding churches.

Joshua Capatch, worship leader at CityView Church, led over 100 pastors and church members in a very simple, but dynamic worship set, which toggled back and forth between prayer using all of the principles we had just learned in the earlier session. Paul Meldrum; Jackie Allen, lead pastor of Cross Church and executive director of Thrive Baptist Network; and Kyle Rosas, church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board, led us in reading and praying through Psalm 23.

Everyone left excited and inspired to mobilize God’s people to pray.

Matt, a member of Japanese International Baptist Church, told me how refreshing it was to mingle with other brothers and sisters in Christ. He expressed his appreciation for the “worship-based prayer” The 6:4 Fellowship taught.

Andrew Bailey, campus pastor for Cross Church’s Phoenix Campus, who has been to previous events by The 6:4 Fellowship, said, “I really appreciate the practical instruction for establishing a prayer culture at your church.”

Monty Patton, Send Network Arizona director, said it best when he closed the prayer service, “We don’t need another event, we need a movement.” The problem in our country is not that there are too few people willing to be saved (Matthew 9:37-38), but that there are too few Christians willing to find them, and even fewer prayer warriors to call them. Our hope for the churches in our city and around the world is for a movement of prayer to erupt in our churches, a movement born out of Scripture, a movement that reflects a commitment — a commitment reborn.

Gary Derbyshire is senior pastor of Apollo Baptist Church in Glendale.

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