The prayers listed in this document are just some suggestions and are purely optional; they are meant to be an aid only, and folks should feel free to pray as the Holy Spirit leads them. Download
On Jan. 6 the Eastern PA Conference will become one of the first annual conferences in The United Methodist Church to engage in a full day of round-the-clock prayer on behalf of the denomination’s 2016 General Conference.
The church’s Council of Bishops has invited each of the 131 annual conferences worldwide to host a 24-hour prayer effort on a specific date, with the intent of creating a groundswell of prayer in the days leading up to the General Conference. It is up to each conference to choose a date and then design its own prayer format.
Jan. 1 began 131 days of continual prayer leading up the global, quadrennial legislative gathering (#UMCGC), which will meet May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. By coincidence, there are 131 annual conferences in The United Methodist Church.
The prayer effort commenced with the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, which volunteered for the start date of Jan. 1. Eastern PA chose Jan. 6, the Christian Day of Epiphany, when we celebrate Christ’s revelation to the world.
“This is how we can best prepare our hearts and minds for the legislative deliberations and decision-making that help determine the policies and practices of our United Methodist Church every four years,” wrote Bishop Peggy Johnson to Eastern PA Conference members, asking for each congregation to participate in the 24-hour vigil.
“Be assured that you will be joining a powerful prayer chain that connects us with other United Methodists around the world,” she continued.
“Pray for the 864 delegates and the many important decisions they will make on our behalf. Pray for the many participants who are preparing to serve as worship leaders, preachers, ushers, pages, legislative committee leaders and administrators for this event. Pray that we as a denomination are not anxious but faithful and thankful for this important time in the life of the church.”
As the spiritual leaders of The United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops conceived the prayer vigil plan as a meaningful way to focus spiritually on the General Conference experience and to surround the delegates and church leaders with prayer for their ultimate mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
“We are encouraging people to pray for God to guide delegates and church leaders as they prepare for General Conference,” said Bishop Al Gwinn, who chairs the Council’s prayer subcommittee. “We hope they will pray that God would give them an understanding and loving heart; that all will have a spirit of humility and a desire to do God’s will; and that the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in such a way that all who observe would sense that true Christian conferencing will take place.”
The Eastern PA Conference already began on Sunday evening, Dec. 6, a once-a-month, six month prayer vigil organized in District Prayer Posts. The Southeast District led off the series, as the Rev. Tim Kriebel, who devised the idea, welcomed participants to engage in collective prayer at Bethlehem UMC in Thornton.
The next prayer post event will be on Jan. 6, the same date as our conference’s participation in the Council of Bishops’ requested prayer vigil. Members from around the conference are invited to come pray at the second District Prayer Post, Faith Alive UMC in Bowmanstown (678 Pine Street, Palmerton, PA) at 7 PM, hosted by the Northeast District.
By John W. Coleman
Eastern PA Conference Communications Director
Parts of this story were adapted from a UMNS report