January 5-7 marked Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ’s ninth annual Three Days of Prayer event, bringing pastors and congregation members of the association together to kick off 2021 with an intentional time of prayer.
In light of the circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no surprise that fewer congregations than usual opted to host in person events. According to the results of our January 2021 poll, only 14% reported attending or organizing an in person event for Three Days of Prayer this year, down from 18% in 2017 and 56% back in 2014.
While a decline in the number of large in-person activities such as prayer services, meetings, vigils, and walks this year was evident, a handful of LCMC congregations still welcomed the opportunity join together in person with others from their congregation to pray, including St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Clyde, OH.
“It touched my heart when I heard a woman in our group pour out her heart in prayer. Her passion and intensity surprised me,” said the Kurt Luebkeman, the pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Unsurprisingly, praying on one’s own was the most popular way to structure this time of prayer in 2021. 42% of poll respondents reported that they chose to simply set aside some time to pray on their own for each of the three days, an increase from only 20% in 2017.
Small group prayer was also popular this year, with 18% of participants reporting to have spent at least some time together in prayer with family, friends, or fellow congregation members throughout the three days.
8% of participants reported hosting virtual events for at least one of the three days, including John Foss, an associate member of LCMC from Community of Hope in Wilsonville, OR.
Foss’ congregation organized an online event over the following weekend that featured prayer meetings, testimonies, and music using the digital video conferencing platform Zoom. Afterward, videos from the event were posted to the congregation’s YouTube channel, allowing a greater number of people to access the content.
“It was great to see everyone and pray together, even on Zoom, in a time where most of these people haven't been together in person at church. The testimonials were powerful about prayer and the individuals' experiences with God,” Foss said.
One new trend that emerged this year was an expressed desire for LCMC congregations in close geographical proximity to connect and plan events with one another for future Three Days of Prayer events.
“It would be nice if several congregations in an area were to gather together, either on Zoom or in person,” Luebkeman said.
When it comes to promoting Three Days of Prayer to congregation members, 10% of congregations distributed printed resources or included messages in their church bulletin encouraging church members to set aside some time each day to pray, while 8% opted to get the word out using electronic media such as e-newsletters, mobile apps, or social media.
The association’s annual Three Days of Prayer event was started in 2012 by then-Service Coordinator Mark Vander Tuig in an effort to help the people of LCMC become more and more a people of prayer.
“Our attitude toward prayer has often been characterized by saying, “Well, all we can do now is pray!”. Prayer is not the hopeless act of desperation. Prayer is a gift that God has given to us as a means to approach the throne of grace with confidence, like that of a child coming to her parents sharing concerns, victories, defeats and every part of life. It is an opportunity to express the deepest heartache and the greatest joy. Prayer is a conversation between the Creator and the created…and the conversation began with God, for us, in Christ Jesus,” Vander Tuig wrote in a 2012 blog post.
Participants are encouraged to join together in prayer for three consecutive days at the start of each new year, structuring this time of prayer in any way that makes sense for the congregation.
For those who may be feeling inspired to organize a more interactive experience for our next Three Days of Prayer event, the single piece of advice offered up most – by pastors and congregation members alike – is to plan ahead.
“Get prepared earlier. Print the prayer brochure earlier and get them out to everyone much sooner,” said Luebkeman.
LCMC's next Three Days of Prayer will take place January 4-6, 2022. If you would like to follow along with us during our 2021 Three Days of Prayer, be sure to “Like” and follow our Facebook page and/or download our mobile app and opt-in for Three Days of Prayer notifications [Here's How].
First Photo (Top Right): Members of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church gather together to pray on the final day of Three Days of Prayer. Second Photo (Middle Left): A virtual event hosted on Zoom at Community of Hope Lutheran Church. Third Photo (Bottom Right): A graph of the different ways that people in LCMC chose to structure Three Days of Prayer in 2021.Log in to add a comment
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