FENTON, MI – I served 13 years overseas as an international missionary. During that time, I learned to rely more on prayer. As missionaries, my wife and I, analyzed, planned, created action plans; but we did those things only after we prayed. Obstacles would fall down after we petitioned the Father. Opportunities arose that were simply not there, days earlier. Those who once opposed us, finally embraced us. Prayer has proven, for us, to be a powerful, underused practice in Christian ministry.
Here in Michigan, I see similar miracles happening; but more must be done rapidly if we are going to shatter the spiritual darkness with God’s light. Jesus said, “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father,” Matthew 5:16 (NLT). If each one of us did one thing each day to dispel the darkness for Christ, our state would radically change. Prayer!
Below are five areas of our state in which your prayers could make a big difference. Imagine if we prayed for each of these areas, one day each week, every week. Imagine the impact on our prayer lives as God’s focus falling on a particular area of our state each workday became reality. The results would be inspiring. We want to see churches planted in rural areas, small towns, suburban sites, large cities, and the urban centers of the state. With our intense, united prayers they will make the change we need in 2018.
The affluence and beauty of our state should not keep us from seeing the lost spiritual condition of millions. An estimated two-thirds of 9.9 million people may not know the Lord Jesus Christ. I love the hope found in Isaiah 35:5 when God moves throughout a territory. It says, “And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.” Are you like me and crave to see that happen in our lifetime?
If you’re willing, please join me in asking the Father for:
Church planters to rise up to create new churches
Launch teams of adults to work alongside the planters
Church plants to give birth and guidance to newer church plants
Mature, existing churches to spread the Gospel through church planting
I would love to see the Lord create new church plants in the following areas:
Monday - Marquette County
From the Northern Lights to culinary pleasures there is something for everyone. Northern Michigan University, with 9,000 students and 100 academic programs, hosts cultural and sporting events year round. The university is a training center for Olympic athletes. A unique structure called the Superior Dome is the world’s largest wooden dome. The city of Marquette’s population is approximately 22,000 people with over 67,000 throughout the county due to a 4% growth rate in recent years. There are 77 waterfalls in the county. Inside or outside, the area is like a gemstone in the crown of the Upper Peninsula.
Christ said in Mark 16:15-16, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refused to believe will be condemned.”
Tuesday - Grand Traverse County
Over 90,000 people call this area and the city of Traverse City home. The greater metropolitan area boasts almost 150,000 residents. The shoreline along Lake Michigan is one of the favorite vacation spots of the state’s residents. Many are retiring to the area after years of employment down state. Amusing events or places such as the National Cherry Festival and the Victorian City Opera add style and moments of fun for everyone. People can climb the sand dunes, sail the bay, fish the streams, or play one of the 16 golf courses in the region.
Christ posed one of the most important questions ever uttered in history. In Mark 8:36 (NLT) Jesus asked, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”
Wednesday - Ottawa & Kent Counties
The two counties, with outstanding growth rates in Michigan, are identified with the metropolitan area of Grand Rapids and a population of over one million people, making it the second largest city in Michigan. The family atmosphere in the region is remarkable. The number of universities and colleges will overwhelm anyone. The variety of industries and businesses in the area keep people employed and content. Local governments and businesses have created a utopia for their residents. The many year-round, downtown activities are the results of an outstanding tourism strategy. Many are continually drawn to this area of the state with its stronger and diverse economic base.
1 Corinthians 9:22 was written by one of the boldest church planters in history. Paul described in simple words how he reaches a diverse population when he said, “Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some,” (NLT).
Thursday - Ingham County
The state capital of Lansing is located in this county. The metropolitan area of this area has over 464,000 residents with the city of Lansing showing over 114,000 within the city limits. Michigan State University reports over 50,000 students are enrolled at the school. The region is filled with communities of various types: charming rural areas, distinctive small towns, bustling suburbs, and a redevelopment of downtown Lansing.
When we survey the center of legislation we might think, “What’s the use?” But I’m reminded of the words of a prophet in Zechariah 4:6 who learned how God achieves his desires, “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit,” (NLT).
Friday - Greater Detroit: Oakland, Macomb, & Wayne Counties
This region has a population of 4 million people comprised of residents from Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties. Almost half of the state’s population lives in this metro area. All of the major professional sports teams play in Detroit. Major industries and research facilities are scattered throughout the region. The world headquarters of Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors are still icons of endurance in the area. While many outside this area view Greater Detroit as one large metropolitan mystery, locals identify themselves more by their relationships and workday pathways. True Detroiters will boast about their urban connections because they’re proud of the people’s resilience and the renaissance of their community. Those in the surrounding areas will quickly identify where they reside by saying, “I live in Warren.” Or “I’m from Pontiac.” Or “I work in Detroit but I live in Dearborn.” Regardless of their mailing address, the people are making the most out of the relationships and resources in this world-class city.
Motown needs to hear the Psalmist say once again loud and clear, “Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good,” Psalm 127:1 (NLT)
Be forewarned. The power of A year-long prayer vigil, over the state, might frighten us as God releases His Spirit. It would be something larger and more powerful than we could control; but isn’t that what we want? Let’s ask the Lord to do more than He has ever done so that others become devoted followers of Christ.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.