When I graduated from college (which my sons remind me was before the invention of the calendar) I had a minor in history. Not sure why, that’s just the way it worked out. I remembered enough dates, battles, and places to pass the exams, but I have never considered myself a history buff.
Except – for reasons I don’t understand – I always remembered the name of Count Zinzendorf. I learned that he grew up in Germany, was raised primarily by his very pious grandma, and even as a teen started several “prayer clubs” among his fellow students. As a young man he worked on his grandmother’s estate and would later buy it from her.
In his late 20’s, he was told of a group of Christians living some distance away who were being persecuted for practicing the Christian faith. He invited a dozen or more of them to come live on his property where they could build their own little village. Two other groups would join them until there were nearly a hundred.
Alas they brought their scars with them and the new community became known as a place of anger, resentment, and monumental fights. Most of which were over points of theology about which they disagreed. Zinzendorf began visiting from home to home pleading with his new neighbors – which now numbered about 300 – to open their hearts to Jesus and learn to love each other. The atmosphere began to change.
Finally on a Monday evening, August 13, 1727, the entire community gathered to celebrate the Communion service. A time of repentance and healing ensued and developed into what many would later call, “the Golden Summer.” They sensed that the miracle had happened when the group came together for intense prayer and praise. So they agreed they must never lose that spirit. Over the next few weeks a plan developed. Twenty-four were chosen from the group and each was assigned an hour a day to pray for their family, their neighbors, their church, their village, and the world. Seventy-seven would join the original group of pray-ers and that grew till almost the entire community was involved. So for the next one hundred years there was never a time when there wasn’t a Moravian praying for the burdens they carried in common. (And you thought your prayer meeting ran long!)
And to what effect? Well, space won’t allow the total list, but among other outcomes, the little village would send more than 300 missionaries around the world. America would become a nation. The brothers Wesley, John and Charles, would fall in love with Jesus and plant the Christian faith deep in the heart of the new colonies. Some of the greatest hymns of all time would become part of the Christian heritage. In 1807 the British and Foreign Bible Society, and later the American Bible Society, were conceived with the goal of placing a copy of the Scriptures in the hand of every person on the globe, in their own language. Also, in 1807 England passed legislation, followed the next year by the US, banning the slave trade. A scant few years later the Advent Movement was born with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in its DNA.
So my observation in all this: When God’s people take intercessory prayer seriously He does, too. And you can’t predict the outcome.
By Don Jacobsen