All over the world men are praying and we understand that many more are praying other than those who are linked with us. Nevertheless, the number of men who have joined this initiative is still slowly growing. The primary goal or focus from the outset of this initiative was never about the numbers, but it is solely to encourage men to pray and of course we want to see that number grow.
Our vision is to be a voice to challenge, encourage, inspire and teach men to pray.
Many of the men who have signed up and relate to this initiative are not only men who pray, they’re also involved in the churches they attend or participate in various “Prayer Networks” and, in some cases, they are the leaders of those networks.
These therefore, are not just men of prayer, they are men of considerable influence. They are Kingdom minded men who know the power of prayer and the impact prayer can have.
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:16 (NASB)
One such man of prayer and influence is my good friend Phil Carlson. Phil was one of the first men in the USA to join MILLION PRAYING MEN. I first meet Phil in 2015 on a visit to Chicago.
His emails and phone calls are always encouraging and recently I asked Phil to update us on what is happening in the Chicagoland area. The following is his report….
God is leading and answering prayer in Chicago
….People around the world have heard of Chicago and some of the things we are known for; the magnificent skyline and a beautiful lakefront. They have probably also heard about the reputation for crime and violence. Nevertheless, it is a great and wonderful city with an incredible history, along with its share of problems. However, God has been very involved all along and our history is still being written.
Broken but not forgotten
One of the ways we have witnessed God at work is seen in a specific neighborhood called Englewood. In 1920 this neighborhood was a key center of commerce and industry. In 1940 things began to decline due to many and various social factors that contributed to low income and poor housing, producing much tension. Soon drugs, the violence and other ills that accompany all that arrived. In this suffering it became known as one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city.
All of that draws attention, both negative and positive. Gangs and other elements took advantage of the situation while on the other hand others were and still are attempting to bring solutions.
In May 2012 the Lord brought a ministering servant to the area who brought a challenge to the church to bring the presence of God into this neighborhood by establishing Prayer Altars. He gave a prophetic word of challenge and promise that if we would be faithful in this work, the Lord would bring transformation to this neighborhood. Englewood would become an example to the city bringing further transformation, and that Chicago would be a testimony to the nation, bringing glory to God.
So work began to establish these altars of prayer, which proved to be difficult. Too few churches were able to catch the vision, thinking instead that more government or other infusions of resources was what was needed, not prayer. There was also a reluctance to work together. However, with the help of some from outside the neighborhood, prayer was established. First in one High School, then in another, where very soon a noticeable change began to take place. When the Gospel was shared with the sports teams, kids responded and received new life in Christ.
A prayer meeting was also established in the Police District Headquarters contributing to changing that environment with the presence and purposes of God. There came a change of Commander and the present man is a committed follower of Jesus. Other ministries were encouraged and some street ministry and prayer walks were initiated and existing ones strengthened.
Many years ago a retired carpenter began to make small wooden crosses in memory of people across the nation who had been victims of mass shootings. At the beginning of 2017 he was given a vacant lot in Englewood where the crosses he had made, representing the lives taken by violence in our city, could be displayed. Each week he would make and bring those crosses, that included the victim’s name and date of their death, to a prayer vigil where the names were read followed by a time of prayer. Sometimes family members would stop by and receive prayer and be ministered to.
By the late fall of 2017 violence had dropped by over 30% in the Englewood community and there was a noticeable change in the spiritual atmosphere. There was evidence of a different sound in the neighborhood, less sirens and more people, including children, out and about.
In December the Mayor hosted a breakfast to thank clergy for their involvement in working for peace throughout the city and proclaimed that the neighborhood of Englewood was leading the city in the reduction of violence. The trend is continuing throughout the city. In 2018, Englewood is still at the forefront and prayer is increasing as well! God is faithful and we are so encouraged!
Nevertheless, as this report was being prepared there were a number of shootings and several deaths, including in Englewood. Still, much prayer is needed. We must not be complacent.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)
We continue to press in, for there can be no letting up in seeking the power and presence of God.
Of course there is much more to be accomplished than just a reduction in crime and violence. The desire is to see major breakthroughs of the Kingdom of God to bring about significant and sustained transformation of people’s lives.
Much prayer is continuing throughout the city and the Lord continues to answer our prayers. One way God is answering our prayers is the raising up of many people from around the nation who are planning to come to Chicago this summer to join us in prayer, to serve and minister on the streets throughout the summer. There is a great expectation for what God will do….
If you are in the Chicago area and would like more information to be involved in prayer and/or outreach in the region please email us your contact details and we will pass them on to help get you connected.
What is happening in your city? Tell us about your victories and your challenges. If you need and want help to set up more prayer in your city please let us know.