#pray4manchester: O Lord, in Your mercy and power, grant strength and enduring faith to all who are bereaved, injured and traumatised in the Manchester Concert Attack. O Lord, let THY KINGDOM COME to the hearts of all who commit evil in Jesus name.
On this day in 1738, John Wesley had his heartwarming experience which set in motion the explosion of the Methodist movement. Wesley’s journal entry from that day is very significant in praying and preaching for continuous conversion of souls. Wesley’s spiritual renaissance at Aldersgate is a reminder of the character and secret of the early Methodist rapid growth including ‘its moral and spiritual fervour of the weekly class meetings to pray, read the Bible, discuss their spiritual lives, and to collect money for charity.’ The main character in the early Methodist just as in the early church is not Wesley, Peter or Paul, but the HOLY SPIRIT. Praying and preaching Aldersgate is a call to reclaim the rich root, theology, and vibrant heritage of Methodism with potential to shape matters of contemporary significance.
On the importance and validity of being a Christian church, Stanley Jones said, a church must ‘not only convert people from the outside to membership but also produce conversion within its own membership. When it cannot do both, it is on its way out.’ The political world is in such a season of decision just as the church is in decline; faced with some fundamental challenges – sin of unbelief, ‘rising levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality and austerity, housing crisis, challenges for children and young people, rising racial tensions and questions about immigration…’ The pledge and invitation by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby to join the global wave of prayer that people might know Jesus Christ during a focused time between Ascension and Pentecost from 25 May – 4 June 2017 is prophetic globally and for June 8 election in United Kingdom. Above parties and our personal hopes and desires, as well intentioned as they are, we are called to pray “THY KINGDOM COME! (Jn 3:3).
Praying and preaching Aldersgate in reference to Wesley’s warmed heart experience resonates with how people could be transformed through prayer by the Holy Spirit, finding new confidence to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. Separated by 1700 years, the age of Jesus Christ and the age of John Wesley were conscious of punishment for sin. In contrast, the huge difference between 18th and 21st century, Wesley’s age and ours (350 years) is shaped by the industrial revolution with few people believing in heaven but not in hell, not judgement. Praying and preaching Aldersagte, awakes the church ‘to point out where the whole of humanity is going wrong, …and ‘to buck up people who’ve got complacent in their life of privilege, don’t want to think about the consequences of their wrongdoing..’ In a post-truth culture, a time when nations, families and ‘each human being .. is an amalgam of wants, needs, interests, intuitions, interests, and distractions … The fixation on our own sense of need and interest looms as the most significant factor in this marginalization and silencing of the Word’ of God and conversion. Pre-Aldersgate Wesley struggled for years in the ministry until he yielded to the advise of his Moravian friend Peter Boehler and cried out, ‘Lord, help my unbelief.’ The Kingdom of God tarries today because just as Pre-Aldersgate Wesley struggled with ‘spiritual dryness and homiletical burnout,’ there are many struggling preachers preaching faith in Christ alone in disbelief hence, the decline in soul continuous conversion.
In the morning of May 24th 1738, Wesley received the ‘exceeding great and precious promises of God and became a partaker of God’s divine nature (2Pet 1:4). Praying Aldersgate is a prayer call for salvation of souls bearing in mind Wesley’s experience: ‘while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.’ Praying Aldersgate is about Christ alone who saves, resulting in good works (Eph 2:9). Praying Aldergates calls us to our kneels praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come,’ as you did 279 years ago, start with we preachers, safe and fill us with your Holy Spirit, telling the gospel to all who would listen. Praying Aldersgate is about pursuit of souls coupled with warmed heart preaching by the strangely-warmed heart preachers that could spare us blood revolution. According to Mark Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today, the larger and tragic reality in praying, preaching, exposition of the Bible, and teaching ministry is that the ‘authority of the Bible is swallowed up in the imposed authority’ of secular concerns, ‘real or perceived, of the listeners.’
Praying and preaching Aldersgate calls us to go beyond our heritage of public reading of the Word of God, to guide and rescue the church from error, preserve the church in truth and propel it in authentic witnessing, reading, and ‘exposition of the Word of God, powerfully and faithfully read, explained, and applied.’ Beyond the mere preaching of the Word, Apostle Paul explained that …gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and the Holy Ghost (1Thess 1:5). Prayer and preaching ‘Thy Kingdom Come,’ is a combination of a yielded life of praying and preaching the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Praying and preaching Aldersgate promotes missional invitation ‘for the broken, hurting, and marginalized to find real liberty in the Good News of Jesus Christ.