It was a mess of a church. Well, maybe church is stretching it a bit too far. It was more of a community of refugees. Count Zinzendorf parceled out his own land to let various Christians from around Europe to find refuge and create a small community. This little rag-tag bunch of just about 300 spoke dozens of languages and had various theological backgrounds. And the worst of it was, this new ‘shining example’ of Christian community called Herrnhut was known for its bickering and fighting. At his wit’s end, Count Zinzendorf, in May of 1727 and finally came to a conclusion he should have come to way before; he could not change people. He could not make this a pinnacle of the Reformation; he wasn’t smart enough, talented enough, etc. to make it work. So what do you do in a situation like that? Pray. And pray is what he did.
In 1727 Zinzendorf called on the community to begin praying continually. Not just every day, but every hour, of every day of every week, of every year, each member of the community had an allotted hour to pray on a prayer rotation. This small community of 300 prayed 24/7 for revival, for the church, for unity, for the spread of the Gospel. And how long did they keep this up? Maybe a couple of months? That would certainly be a testament! Or for a whole year? That would be something! But they lasted much longer. This community prayed from 1727 to well into the 1830’s. That’s right, over 100 years of 24/7 prayer. What were the effects? On the 65th anniversary, it was recounted that there had been over 300 missionaries sent throughout the world from that tiny little community that numbered as much at its beginning. Three of the most notable men impacted by missionaries from Herrnhut were none other than George Whitfield, John, and Charles Wesley.
I guess you take away from this story a few things. You could just be impressed, but in light of that kind of commitment, I think most of us would despair. But I think this story is valuable not so much for us to marvel at a church’s commitment to prayer; I think we ought to marvel at God’s grace in using broken human beings like the villagers of Herrnhut (or us), and His astounding faithfulness in using prayer to build His Kingdom. May you be encouraged this week to have a chat with the God of all glory, who works wonders and is establishing his Kingdom through His Church.