Pastor's Journey Through Israel Results in House of Prayer
To walk where Jesus walked. It’s the dream many Christians have of one day traveling to Israel, visiting the ancient sites of the Bible, and walking the pathways Jesus once walked. Senior Pastor Jamie Morgan of Life Church (AG) in Williamstown, New Jersey, was no different.
But for Morgan, that dream became reality when her church presented her with a trip to Israel as a 50th birthday gift last year. Morgan knew in her heart the experience would be an encounter with God for her, but she had no idea just how life changing the encounter would become!
“The church told me I could research the available trips to Israel and take the one I wanted,” says Morgan. “So, I chose the Center for Holy Lands Studies ‘As One With Authority’ trip with Dr. James Bradford that was designed specifically for pastors.”
Morgan, who is a Berean graduate, has her masters from Oral Roberts, and is currently pursuing her doctorate through Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel, explains although she expected to hear from God during the trip, what He had to say had her catching her breath.
“We’re walking through the old city of Jerusalem, when all of a sudden, I heard the Muslim call to prayer,” Morgan recalls. “I’ve heard it before on television, but never in person before. Then the Lord spoke clearly to me, telling me that He was raising up leaders and houses of prayer around the world to call the Church back to being a place of prayer.”
Encouraged by this word from the Lord, Morgan continued with the tour, drinking in the sites, marveling as Bible passages sprang to life, and enjoying the instruction on how to bring all these things together to minister God’s Word to people.
But then came the Garden of Gethsemane — Morgan’s life would never be the same.
“I was doing what tourists do — taking pictures — when the Lord encountered me again,” Morgan says. “He pointed out that here, in the garden, when Jesus needed the prayer of His disciples the most, they were asleep. And now, when He needs His Church praying the most, His Church is asleep to prayer.”
Then things got personal.
“God said He was raising up many leaders around the world to bring the Church back to prayer, and that I was one of them,” Morgan says, her voice growing quiet, “and that Life Church is one of those houses He’s raising up.”
Stunned. Awestruck. Overwhelmed. The immediate impact of those words left Morgan reeling with their significance. God continued to spell out to her clearly that He wanted reformation in the Church to return to prayer.
“You see, prayer reformation leads to prayer awakening,” Morgan explains. “Prayer awakenings are always a precursor to revival — the Assemblies of God was birthed from Azusa Street, but Azusa Street was birthed from cottage prayer meetings!”
Morgan would return to the church she has led from a membership of 12 people nine years ago to over 170 today, and share with them what had happened. They readily accepted her words.
“I admitted I didn’t know what the first step was, so we decided as a church to pray and ask God,” Morgan says. “God made it clear that we were to turn our church into a house of prayer, so our ‘step one’ was holding noon prayer meetings for an hour every weekday.”
Morgan says the church then dedicated three rooms for prayer: a “One Thing” room, a minimally decorated room where people can simply pray and “sit at the feet of Jesus” as the biblical Mary did; “The Nations” room is set up for focused prayers, including a soul zone for reaching local people for Christ, a world map for praying for nations, missions flags for covering missionaries in prayer, and more all designed to help people to prayer over particular areas of the world or for specific themes; and the Corporate Prayer room is the sanctuary where corporate prayer events are held.
In addition to providing the rooms, the church holds bimonthly 24-hour prayer times, where members sign up to pray over a particular theme to cover a 24-hour period. So far themes have included Israel, the attributes of God (i.e. Prince of Peace, pray for peace), and this month will be each of the 50 U.S. states.
JoAnn Kates, the church’s director of Spiritual Community, says since beginning the emphasis on prayer in October 2015, there has been a palpable change in the church.
“People are constantly talking about what God spoke to them about in the prayer room,” she says. “People who never really heard from God are now hearing from Him — people are coming to a place (in their walk with God) where prayer is an important part of their life.”
“The prayer rooms are filled with the presence of God,” Morgan says. “When they enter a prayer room, they encounter God. And God is responding to their prayers!
However, Morgan doesn’t believe God has called her and Life Church to be some “fortress” of prayer, instead she believes God wants the church to take “step two” and go out and be a catalyst for seeing other churches become houses of prayer as well.
“I believe many pastors want their churches to be houses of prayer,” Morgan says, “but they simply don’t know where to start in order to develop a culture of prayer in their church. I believe God wants us to use our church as a prototype to come alongside pastors, assist them, and inspire them in developing a culture of prayer.”
Kates observes the difference Life Church’s culture of prayer has made in her own life. “I used to have a prayer life,” she says. “Now I have a life of prayer.”
“I am convinced,” Morgan says, “that the greatest work I will accomplish today and the greatest impact my life can make for all of eternity is through the work of prayer.”