The Birth of a Vision




Advocates in Prayer:

The Story of Our Beginning

by J. Mark Copeland, Director

IT WAS THE FIRST night of a new venture, and it was a small beginning.  I was escorted by two ladies down the first floor hallway of Jamestown Commons Apartments, a hotel-style residence providing quality independent living for the elderly and disabled.  We were headed to one of the apartments where we would have our first Friday night meeting.  Though not a resident, I had been invited in to teach on the biblical ministry of intercessory prayer and to help motivate and equip believers in effective prayer. 

As we made our way toward our meeting place, I was feeling a bit pulled down by the fact that only these two ladies had chosen to attend our first meeting.  Of a quite different spirit, one of them, Raylyn, said, "I believe that God is going to use this group to touch the world."  I remember thinking with a tinge of sarcasm, "Woman, great is your faith!"  I admired Raylyn's spirit but wondered if a small group of middle-aged, older, and disabled people meeting for "Bible study and prayer" would be likely to have the motivation, let alone the vision, to impact the world through prayer.

The Seed of a Vision

Despite how I was feeling at the time, I actually did take encouragement from Raylyn's faith and vision.  It was more, though, than HER vision that encouraged me.  The very circumstance by which this venture was beginning had the fingerprints of God on it.

A few days earlier, I had taken a friend named Susan out shopping.  (Susan was a new resident of Jamestown Commons whom I had known for many years.)  Our conversation broached the subject of intercessory prayer.  Susan said to me, as she had before, that she wanted to be an intercessor.  I encouraged her to take steps toward becoming an intercessor by aiming to spend at least an hour daily in focused prayer.  To help her with her prayer discipline, we spent an hour that night practicing some prayer principles that Jesus outlined in the Lord's Prayer.  In a small way, I was seeking to mentor Susan in prayer.

The next day, Susan received a call from another resident asking if I would be interested in leading a weekly meeting at the apartments focused on Bible study and intercessory prayer.  As it turned out, this resident was Raylyn, a committed intercessor of several decades.  I learned that Susan had previously given Raylyn a copy of my book titled After This Manner, Pray (Bridge-Logos Publishing, Inc.) and that Raylyn's perusal of the book led her to extend the invitation.  For me, this was more than a chance call.  I sensed that God had looked down upon me the night before, seen my heart's desire to mentor others in prayer, and gave me an open door to start right there in that complex. 

Discovering the Vision

While the vision of the Advocates In Prayer website encompasses individual intercessors and prayer groups around the world, the discovery of that vision came through our weekly sessions at Jamestown Commons.  There were several steps in this discovery.  I'll list and comment on them briefly.

First, there was the realization of our purpose in prayer.  The focus on our teachings in the weekly sessions was the partnership we have with God through prayer.  John Wesley states that "God does nothing but in answer to prayer."  Walter Wink extends this thought to say that "History belongs to the intercessor."  I sought to communicate to those attending the meetings that God really does want to use our prayers to change our world.   

Second, there was the reception of prophetic guidance for ministry.  Several months into the meetings, Russ and Kim Klein, a husband and wife team whom God uses in prophetic ministry, were leading service at the church I attended.  I responded to the altar invitation for prayer.  Russ had a vision as I was approaching him.  He saw an old set of blueprints being replaced with a new set.  He sensed the Lord saying that the time was at hand when God would reveal His strategy for my ministry.  It would not be a conventional ministry limited to the institutional church.  It would still involve teaching and preaching God's Word, but it would be through a channel with inroads into the secular and business community.  

Third there was the revelation of God's plan for the website ministry.  Several weeks after the prophetic word through Russ Klein, I asked the group at Jamestown Commons to pray with me about the meaning of this word.  (Mine was just one of several prayer requests that night.)  About five minutes into our prayer time, I had a sudden impression that someone in our prayer circle was at that moment receiving revelation as to what the prophetic word meant.  At that very moment, my friend Susan suddenly broke hands from the circle, threw her arms into the air, and said, "Oh, I know what it is!  Mark, God wants you to start a website to share the teachings you've been giving here about prayer and intercession.  It is to be not just in written form but in audio form as well.  It will expand the ministry here through the Internet."

Defining the Vision

I had no trouble embracing Susan's "word of knowledge" concerning a website ministry as a word from the Lord.  I had sensed it coming a moment before it was given.  For the next couple of weeks during evening exercise walks, I sensed the vision coming together in my mind for the various components of the website.  Not only was it an unconventional form of ministry, but it was one that truly has the capacity to enable ordinary Christians to impact the world through prayer.  In short, it is an avenue to an effective prayer ministry with a vision that is both global and practical.

It is a global vision.  As I shared with the residents of Jamestown Commons, in order to impact the world, you must have a way to connect with it.  The Internet is a powerful way to connect.  It's not without reason that the Internet is called the World Wide Web.  If we really believe that prayer is partnership with God to change the world, we can "link hands in prayer around the globe" with the help of a computer, a modem, and a phone line.  We can teach on effective prayer through the website, bring together a circle of intercessors, invite people to email their prayer requests, and link those needing prayer with committed intercessors.  Will it work?  Ask Jesus!  He said, "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."  (See Matthew 18:19.)  

It is a practical vision.  We don't have to buy television or radio time in expanding media markets around the globe to impact the world through prayer.  With the help of technology, we can touch the world through prayer from the comfort of our homes.  Consider the following:

  1. Touching the lives of people from other parts of the world requires that we have a way to meet or establish communication with them.  A website ministry properly connected with major search engines is accessible around the world and has the potential of bringing people together.

  2. Communicating with people from other countries would normally require a long distance phone call or a letter.  The phone call can be expensive, and the letter can take a long time to get to its destination.  E-mail allows you to write a note and send it through a phone line to someone in any part of the world with nearly immediate delivery as though it were a local telephone call.

Even people living in an independent living facility for the elderly and disabled can enlist as prayer partners with a website ministry and have a meaningful prayer ministry that will impact the lives of people around the globe.

Birthing the Vision

Birthing always involves labor pains.  For me it was a year-long process of learning a web design program, designing the site, developing the components, scripting the teachings, and linking to other online prayer ministries -- while working a full-time job.  At this writing, audio has yet to be added.  (A baby doesn't come out of the womb talking!)  I am encouraged, though, that what began as a seed in Raylyn's statement of faith, Russ's prophetic vision, and Susan's word of knowledge has taken shape and come to birth. 

It shouldn't be overlooked that what has been birthed in the Advocates In Prayer website is . . . a vision.  A vision has little effect on the world unless it is caught.  My prayer is that Christians around the world who know the power of prayer and desire to impact their world through prayer will catch the vision.  Every time we touch one solitary life at home or in another part of the world, we have begun to change the world through prayer.  What begins in smallness and earnestness will assuredly end in God's kingdom advancing throughout the earth.

If you sense God calling you to take advantage of this particular tool, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider connecting with our Intercessors' Circle of prayer partners.  May God direct you as you seek to follow His leading.  


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