The United Methodist Bishops’ Call to Prayer for 131 Days

Florida Day of Prayer is April 14

Here you will find prayer resources for the Annual Conference Day of Prayer for The United Methodist Church, the 2016 General Conference, and the world.

 

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Invitation

On December 2, 2015 the Council of Bishops issued an invitation to the 131 Days of Prayer.  Below is an extract from the full press release:

The Council of Bishops has invited each of the annual conferences to host a 24-­hour prayer effort on a specific date, with the intent of creating a groundswell of prayer in the days leading up to the General Conference….As the spiritual leaders of The United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops conceived the plan for a prayer vigil in the months before the event as a meaningful way to focus spiritually on the experience, as well as to surround the delegates and church leaders with prayer for a General Conference that inspires us in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

United Methodists from all over the world will come together in the spirit of Christian conferencing in Portland,” said Bishop Debra Wallace-­-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference and chairperson of the “Council Life Together” team, which helped initiate the idea. “We want those attending to know that their United Methodist family is praying for them and with them -­--­- that God will lead them in the decisions that they will make for the future of our church and that the event will be a positive Christian witness in how we conference together.

We are encouraging people to pray for God to guide delegates and church leaders as they prepare for General Conference,” said Bishop Al Gwinn, who chairs the Council’s prayer subcommittee. “We hope they will pray that God would give them an understanding and loving heart; that all will have a spirit of humility and a desire to do God’s will; and that the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in such a way that all who observe would sense that true Christian conferencing will take place.

 

 

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Promotional Resources

 

Logo


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Poster, 11"x17"


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Social Media Image


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Bulletin Insert


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Resources for a Prayer Experience

The basic information needed for a prayer experience will be found below.

 

Suggested Supplies

It will be helpful to have a Bible, a cross, the United Methodist logo with the cross and flame, a globe or world map, paper to write on and pens or pencils for writing, a candle, and a means to light the candle. You will also need the list of the elected delegates and alternates from your Annual Conference.

 

A Suggested Order for a Prayer Vigil

Opening Words:

When you are ready to begin, you are encouraged to use these words or others of your own choosing:

  • We light this candle as a reminder that Jesus Christ is the light of the world.
  • We place this cross is to remind us that we serve a risen Lord who is the head of the church.
  • We place The United Methodist cross and flame to remind us that we were formed in 1969 from the union of two expressions of the Church universal, the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church (the two flames by the one cross).

 

Scripture:

[When you are ready, please read the following passage from the Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 1-­-5 (the Common English Bible translation is printed below).]

1 In the beginning was the Word

          and the Word was with   God and the Word was    God.

The Word was with God in the

           beginning. 

3 Everything came into being through the

          Word, and without the Word nothing

          came into being. What came into being

through the Word was life,

          and the life was the light for all people.

5 The light shines in the darkness,

          and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

Prayerful Reflection:

Reflect on this truth, that the Word—Jesus Christ—was with God and was God from the very beginning. Everything that “came into being” did so because the Word— Jesus—was involved in the creation of all things—all people—all planets—all solar systems—everything! We are one in Christ by creation and by redemption. Through our profession of faith in Christ and baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we are spiritually connected to one another.

Ask: What prayers, songs or feelings or pictures come to you now as you reflect on the reality Jesus Christ is the creator, light and life of all people?

[Pause here for a few minutes. This will allow time to center ourselves in Christ]

Prayer:

Now, offer a prayer for yourself and for all your brothers and sisters in The United Methodist Church who have responded to the call to Christian discipleship. Open yourself to this holy mystery of our oneness in Jesus Christ. Meditate on the spiritual reality that we are sisters and brothers. Pray that this deep and essential truth will undergird and guide all preparation for the General Conference, all the interactions during the General Conference and the commitments made at the General Conference.

[Pause three to five minutes for prayer, reflection and writing, etc.]

 

Scripture:

(When you are ready, read this verse from John 1:14 CEB).

14 The Word became flesh

          and made his home among us.

          We have seen his glory,

          glory like that of a father’s only son, full

          of grace and truth.

Let the Holy Spirit help us consider anew the mystery of the incarnation, the cosmic Christ who was involved in all creation, now come to us as a baby—so vulnerable—so powerful— so unique. Consider Charles Wesley’s poetic reflection on the mystery of how the unique Word of God became flesh, “God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man.”

Ask: What prayer or thought comes to you now as you consider the mystery of the incarnation— God with us—the Word become flesh?

[Pause to reflect and pray. If there is a group, invite people to briefly tell about the thoughts and prayers that come to them today.]

Sing:

Choose a hymn or song which helps you consider the character and content of the living Word of God who “became flesh and made his home among us…full of grace and truth.” Pause after singing as you consider the essential nature of Jesus Christ—full of love, grace and truth—when ready, ask those present, "what prayer, feelings and pictures come to you now?"

Praying for the General Conference, the Elected Delegates and Alternates:

Share the following information by reading this portion or providing a handout to those present.

 

 

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Understanding and Praying for the General Conference

General Conference is the United Methodist Church’s top legislative body. It meets every four years; and, it is the only entity that speaks for The United Methodist Church. The 2016 General Conference will be held in Portland, Ore., in the Western Jurisdiction.

The General Conference is an international body of nearly 1,000 delegates. The delegates are elected by annual conferences (at annual conference sessions) to attend General Conference. They represent all annual conferences around the world. Half of the delegates are laity (non-­-clergy members), half are clergy. In 2016 there will be 864 voting delegates from the following areas of the world.

 

North Central USA

92

Northeastern USA

86

South Central USA

108

Southeastern USA

188

Western USA

30

Africa Central

42

Congo

138

West Africa

80

Central and Southern Europe

14

Germany

6

Northern Europe and Eurasia

20

Philippines

50

Concordat

10

TOTAL

864

 

Bishops attend the General Conference but cannot vote. Different bishops serve as presiding officers during the conference. Other bishops cannot speak unless permission is specifically granted by the delegates.

During General Conference, delegates discuss and vote on petitions and resolutions proposed by individuals, agencies, annual conferences, and other groups within the denomination. These actions result in a revision of the Book of Discipline, the denomination's book of law, and Book of Resolutions, policies of the denomination on current social issues.

General Conference is where delegates wrestle with today's issues in light of scriptural teachings and the church's understanding of that teaching. Here is where the church's official stands and church policies are made regarding such issues as mission, vision, discipleship, spiritual formation, human sexuality, abortion, war, peace, and funding.

The theme of the 2016 conference is “Therefore, Go….” reflecting Jesus’ great commission to his disciples in Matthew 28: 19-­-20: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

 

Ask:

As you have learned more about our connectional church, consider how is the Holy Spirit leading you to pray today for our church and its mission?

How is God guiding you to pray for the elected delegates and alternates?

 

Prayer and Instructions:

Take time now to pray individually, or if you prefer, invite those present to pray our loud if they choose, providing for a closing to the prayer after all have prayed.  Encourage those present to pray for the mission, vision and passion of The United Methodist Church for the next four years. As well, encourage them to pray for their own grace and guidance to “go and make disciples” in their own community and local context?

Consider during this time of prayer including the General Conference Committees, the General Agencies that implement the decisions of the General Conference and the United Methodist Leaders who provide leadership in Council of Bishops, Jurisdictional Conferences, and Annual Conferences.

 

Benediction:

At the conclusion of the prayer service or vigil provide a spoken or written benediction for those who have gathered to prayer.  Encourage each one to continue in prayer up to and during General Conference.

 

 

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The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815

(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011