We are looking forward to hosting a prayer gathering of local churches at Woodlawn Baptist Church on Sunday evening, October 28th that we are calling, “A Humble Attempt to Unite in Prayer.” The name of the meeting is inspired by the treatise written by Jonathan Edwards in January of 1748. It was entitled: An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer, For the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. Edwards made an urgent appeal encouraging gatherings for extraordinary prayer, known as “concerts of prayer.” According to this plan, Christians of all denominations the world over who seek fervent piety, know the power of godliness, and believe gospel truth, should agree in a friendly resolution to meet on an appointed day to pray specifically for revival and the extension of the earthly kingdom of Christ.
The invitation was widely received and implemented by Christians of all denominations.
The concept of a concert of prayer originated in 1744 in Scotland. A group of ministers covenanted to be given weekly to “united extraordinary supplications to the God of all grace…earnestly praying to Him that He would appear in His glory…by an abundant effusion of His Holy Spirit… to revive true religion in all parts of Christendom…and fill the whole earth with His glorying.” This practice spread throughout Great Britain, and a memorial [open letter] printed in 1746 inviting others to join in these praying societies found its way to New England.
The English Particular Baptist John Sutcliff, who reprinted Edwards’s Humble Attempt in 1789, described this union in prayer in the following words:
“In the present imperfect state, we may reasonably expect a diversity of sentiments upon religious matters…Yet all should remember, that there are but two parties in the world, each engaged in opposite causes; the cause of God and of Satan; of holiness and sin; of heaven and hell. The advancement of the one, and the downfall of the other, must appear exceedingly desirable to every real friend of God and man….O for thousands upon thousands, divided into small bands in their respective cities, towns, villages, and neighbourhood, all met at the same time, and in pursuit of one end, offering up their united prayers, like so many ascending clouds of incense before the Most High!”
In the years immediately following this reprint, a small group of Baptist pastors joined in these concerts of prayer, which was the beginning of the modern missions movement.
By assembling this gathering, we by no means believe that we can somehow replicate what God has done in previous generations. We do, however, hope to imitate the example of faithful men who have fervently sought God’s favor for the advancement of His kingdom for His glory.