Prayer summit

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Prayer Summit – September 27-30, 2004
This is a special edition of E-Central E-Mail. Our purpose for sending it is to let you know what
goes on at a Prayer Summit. We are very serious about our need as a Region to come together for a
season of prayer and want to you to know about the format.
Also, we want you to be aware of the time schedule. On Monday, September 27, you can begin to
arrive at 2 p.m. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m. The prayer aspect will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday –
Thursday breakfast will be served at 8 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. and dinner at 5 p.m. We will be
ending on Thursday, September 30, at 11 a.m. (no lunch).
If you have any questions or might need financial help please let us know.
In His service,
Don Shaw
What is a “Prayer Summit”? by Dave Cetti
I. Introduction
A Prayer Summit is a four-day prayer retreat, beginning (usually) on Monday at noon with a shared
meal, continuing until Thursday late morning. It sometimes ends with the midday meal on
Thursday. It is a period of time wholly dedicated to seeking God. Here are some comments from
the web site of the Chicagoland Prayer Summits:
What Is The Prayer Summit Experience?
Even for Pastors and Prayer leaders, the Prayer Summit is different than any meeting they have
previously attended.
We worship, but this is not a praise and worship service.
We read Scripture, but very differently than on a typical Sunday morning.
We pray, but with a unique flow; this is not your Wednesday night prayer meeting.
Nor is it merely a prayer retreat, designed for you to spend personal time with the Lord.
Certainly not a Prayer Conference; do not expect any sermons or study outlines.
The Prayer Summit utilizes all of the above but in such a unique way, that it becomes wonderful to
experience but difficult to describe.
Hopefully this paper will serve to clarify what a prayer summit is, and how one is “structured” for
the maximum benefit of the participants.
II. The Purpose of a Summit
There are three ways to express the singular purpose of a summit:
• To seek the face of God
• To draw near to God
• To behold Him
A. To seek the face of God. “We seek His face, not His hand.”
II Chronicles 7:14 “If…my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and
pray, and seek My face…”
There is prayer, and there is seeking the face of God. Often in prayer, we are seeking
something from God – be it His provision, wisdom for a situation we are in, direction for a decision
we must make, healing, etc. In those cases we are seeking His hand. But in a summit, we are not
concerned with getting something from God. We are solely concerned with Him – seeking Him for
His own sake alone.
In Acts 13:1-2, the five leaders of the church at Antioch are described as taking time in
“ministering to the Lord and fasting.” There is no indication that they were seeking anything from
God. All that we are told is that they were “ministering to the Lord and fasting.” Period. But it is
while their hearts are focused on worshipping God and ministering to Him that they are able to hear
the voice of His Spirit saying, “Set apart for Me, Barnabas, and Saul…” Had this been the average
church in America, a strategic planning session might have been in full swing! But not in Antioch!
Their sights were set on God and God alone. What might happen if today’s church leadership were
to regularly set aside time to seek the face of God – sit at His feet – be still before Him? What
might He reveal to us? What world-changing ministries might God give birth to?
We seek His face, not His hand.
B. To draw near to God.
James 4:8 – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
Psalm 73:28 – “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.”
There are times when I have no desire to go to another prayer summit. I am spiritually
unready, emotionally and physically tired, and I just don’t care to seek the Lord at the moment. It is
at these times that I have had to go to God and confess my condition and ask for His gracious
transformation. On one such occasion, it was only a few days away from a significant series of
prayer summits.
It was a Sunday, and I was in our church’s worship service with my oldest daughter. The
other members of my family were serving or participating in other areas of the church that morning.
About halfway through the service, I realized that my daughter was sitting next to me with her head
on my shoulder. She was past the stage when that would be an unconscious act – as a maturing
adolescent this was a willful choice. How can a father describe the feeling of his daughter’s willful
nearness? I spent the rest of that service rejoicing and reveling in the fact that my daughter would
choose to be so near to me.
It wasn’t until the next morning that it dawned on me: If I, an imperfect earthly father, take
that much pleasure in the simple nearness of my child, how much more does our Heavenly Father
take pleasure in the simple, willful nearness of His children? Thank God for His grace! My entire
attitude was changed as I realized that my purpose in going to a prayer summit was simply to get as
near to God as possible. It would not be up to me to “make” anything happen. Hopefully, if I were
leaning against Him, I would feel Him move when He was ready to move. It was up to God to
initiate any activity – my “job” was to draw as close to Him as possible. This was a very freeing
We seek to draw near to God.
C. To behold Him.
II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the Glory of the
Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the
Why seek His face? Why draw near to Him? In order to behold Him. It is in beholding the
Lord that we are changed. As we behold Him, He transforms us into His image. At the present, this
is a process. At His return, it will be instantaneous. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it
has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him,
because we shall see Him just as He is.” (I John 3:2). It is in beholding Him that we are changed
into His likeness – now in a process, then in an instant.
The whole point is GOD; to seek Him, draw near to Him, behold Him.
This is a lot more difficult than it sounds. We have agendas. We want to know what God
wants us to do. We feel an urgent need to be producing something. We often approach a time of
prayer hoping to accomplish something ourselves – whether it be the fulfillment of a certain
commitment to pray, or to intercede on behalf of others. We want to accomplish something while
we are praying.
But in a summit, we are seeking not to “do”, but to “be” – not to accomplish, but to abide. In
Luke 10:38-42, Jesus pointed out to busy Martha that she was distracted with all her preparations,
but that Mary had chosen the good thing – that which could not be taken away from her. What was
Mary doing that was so right? She was “listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet.” Not a
productive posture by American standards! Again, hear Jesus’ assessment: “…only a few things are
necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away
from her.” What have we missed because we couldn’t bring ourselves to cease from our activities
in order to “be still, and know that (He) is God?” (Psalm 46:10).
It is very difficult for us not to want to produce, to accomplish something. But the purpose of
a prayer summit is not to get something from God, or to produce or accomplish anything for God.
The whole point is GOD: to seek Him, to draw near to Him, to behold Him.
We set our sights to behold Him.
III. How to “Lead” a Prayer Summit
This is a misleading heading. There is no manual on how to lead a prayer summit. There is
no suggested program or order of events. In fact, a program might very well defeat the whole
purpose. The role of the person facilitating a summit is not to lead, but to maintain a certain focus.
Perhaps the following illustration will help to clarify what I mean.
Imagine taking a group of people to meet with an extraordinarily creative person – like author
Frank Peretti! There’s no telling what you might talk about or do!! The creative individual is going
to determine that! You are there simply to facilitate and to keep everyone’s attention on the creative
individual. Let’s say that Frank Peretti was to begin talking about how he might fictionalize the
events surrounding the second coming of Christ. Suddenly, someone in your group pipes up and
starts asking questions about Frank’s children’s’ stories. It would be your job to step in and remind
(or point out to) them that you are currently on the subject of fictionalizing the evens surrounding
the second coming of Christ.
You don’t choose the topic, determine the agenda or dictate how issues will be addressed.
That’s the role of the creative individual. You are there only to help people stay on track once the
direction is known.
A poor illustration, perhaps, for in a summit, the creative individual we are meeting with is
GOD. And His agenda is often very different from what we would expect.
IV. The Starting Point In a Prayer Summit
With God as our goal, where do we start?
A. With a season of prayer asking God for His direction, protection and a sense of His
1. Direction. The Scripture says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not
lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths
straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). In praying for the Lord’s direction, we are acknowledging our utter
dependence on Him for the course of our time with Him will take.
2. Protection. We have an enemy who wants to confuse, distract and divide. His goal
is our defeat and destruction. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from
the evil one”. (I Thessalonians 3:3). We must acknowledge our need of and confidence in God’s
protection of us.
3. A sense of His Presence. The Bible teaches that the Lord is present at all times.
But our awareness of His presence varies greatly. We ask for a greater awareness of His presence
to be made known among us as we seek His face.
These are not rote prayers. We have learned to make the expression of these needs our
starting point through hard experience. To neglect to bring these heartfelt needs to God is to invite
B. Worship
Our purpose is to seek His face, draw near to Him, in order to behold Him.
We do so through worship. The worship is spontaneous. Participants are encouraged to start a
song, hymn or chorus, read Scripture, or pray, as the Spirit leads. As one starts a song, the rest join
in. The songs are to be sung to the Lord, not to the group or for the group. The same should be true
of the Scriptures that are read and any prayers that are prayed. All should be offered to the Lord.
He is the audience. Silence is not to be feared, but encouraged. Let each moment of silence
become an opportunity to inwardly draw near to the Lord, to bask in His presence.
These two elements of prayer and worship as mentioned so far are really all that are
necessary. God is worthy of our worship. Were an entire summit devoted purely to worshipping
Him, it would be time wisely invested. But God often meets us as we worship Him and reveals our
true condition as well as some of the concerns of His heart. As in Isaiah’s case, these may involve
our impurity and His desire to bring His word to others (see Isaiah 6:1-10). And so most prayer
summits have other significant elements that take place.
V. Other Elements
A. Personal time – Time alone with God; it may be directed toward a particular issue or
B. Small group time – In groups of three to six (usually four), participants pray together
regarding a specific issue, a Scripture, or for each other’s specific needs.
C. Praying through a passage of Scripture together as a whole group.
D. Ministry to one another (James 5:16). This aspect of God’s provision for our cleansing
and release from sin is often overlooked. But this sometimes becomes the most precious feature of
a prayer summit.
E. Intercession: for the community (-ies) represented; for the Church; for the region or
F. Teachable moments. When prompted by the Spirit, a facilitator will say a few words from
the Scriptures regarding an issue that has surfaced. This speaking is kept to an essential minimum,
for the summit, which is to be focused on the vertical, could easily become horizontal in its focus.
Facilitators do not enter a summit with a message.
G. Communion. We celebrate the Lord’s Table each night (usually). This has been done in a
variety of ways – individually as the whole group continues in worship, in small groups, or in
serving the elements to others rather than taking them for oneself.
H. Dialogue. We try to avoid this like the plague. If we begin a discussion over an issue, it
can rapidly become unwieldy with 25 – 90 participants. Our focus quickly becomes horizontal,
rather than vertical. Even an apparently simple issue can degenerate into the mother of all church
business meetings! Occasionally, but rarely, it will be in the best interest of the group to allow
members to express their views on an issue.
NOTE: The existence of these elements does not constitute an agenda, or the components for
creating a program of prayer. There is a very real temptation to hold these elements in reserve, for
use in a “dead” time. One cannot rely on a list of suggestions for guidance or deliverance – only the
Holy Spirit is adequate.
VI. No Two Summits Are Alike
Many summits have similar elements, but to say that they are alike, or the same, would be a
mistake. It would be like saying that two animals are identical because they both have: four legs, a
tail, a head, two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Taken alone, these elements could present a hippo and a
red fox as identical!
The great temptation is to try to use approaches or ideas that have worked in previous
experiences, rather than relying on God to produce something new each time.
One particular incident along this line stands out to me. At the close of the first evening of
the Pittsburgh Pastors’ Prayer Summit, some of the leaders had met to pray regarding the next day.
It was suggested that we ought to consider using the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) as our
“prayer book” for the week. After prayer, it was agreed that the Spirit seemed to be directing in that
The next morning we read Psalm 120, then invited the participants to worship, pray, or read
other Scriptures to the Lord as they were prompted by the Spirit from that Psalm. It was amazing
what the Holy Spirit brought forth! When we sensed that we were “finished” with that Psalm, we
read Psalm 121. We continued to worship: singing, reading, and praying. We carried on in this
manner to the end of the summit – the Spirit of God bringing forth worship, confession and
intercession. We closed with Psalm 134 late Thursday morning as the summit ended!
That summit took place in the spring of 1993. God has not chosen to use that approach again
since then. This incident motivated me to return to the Scriptures to see how many times God used
a method only once. A cursory investigation revealed at least eleven military strategies or methods
of communication that God used only once. Every one of them was effective, but God chose to be
creative, rather than repetitive or predictable.
VII. Summary
A prayer summit is all about God. There is no manual for leading one. There are, however,
two essential attitudes: humility and faith. It is also essential that one’s mindset be one of seeking
the Lord. The various elements that may become a part of any summit are only effective as they
serve the purpose of seeking the Lord. The whole point is GOD: to seek Him, to draw near to
Him, to behold Him.