At Heartland Church, prayer is the vital foundation of their church and ministry. The congregation comes together for 21 Days of Prayer every January and August at the start of the new year and the start of the school year. They have witnessed hundreds of people joining in person and thousands online every day during their 21-Day events. They begin with a short time of worship, and then a short devotional time in God’s Word. This is followed by individual prayer time for about 30 minutes. Participants can pick up prayer request cards that people have submitted or walk to the walls covered in thousands of post-it notes and pick one. These are the names of people far from God, written on post-it notes by people who love and care about them. They then join back together for corporate prayer. This past season they “equipped God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” This mission was so impactful for their church body.
Although he had participated in 21 Days of Prayer individually since 2001, Pastor Scheske felt like God was calling him to help the entire church body focus on prayer. He realized that although he practiced this personally, he never considered doing it corporately with the church simply because it never occurred to him that others might want to come to pray at 6:00 AM. Inspired by a pastor he knew who was leading his church in prayer with hundreds of people showing up at 6:00 AM, Pastor Scheske took a step of faith and invited his congregation to join him in January of 2012. They have been doing 21 Days of Prayer twice a year, every year, since then. He shares, “There is something about being in a place where hundreds of people are hungering after God, and people of all ages and races together, seeking God. Grown men lifting holy hands without any division or controversy, teenagers laying hands on names of people on post-it notes on the walls–it is one of the most beautiful things to experience. This year we had many teenagers and children come out in the mornings. It was very moving to see.”
Pastor Scheske encourages pastors to take this step of faith with their churches and initiate a 21 Days of Prayer campaign: “There’s nothing more unifying for a church than praying together. It demonstrates that we depend on God. It turns up the spiritual fire in the church. Prayer is also one of the great ways to diversify a church–every culture prays and needs prayer. In a time of polarization and division, God uses corporate prayer to break down walls and unite hearts. People respond to the beauty of humility.”