Men praying together

Three Unique Voices on Prayer

For over 25 years, pastors and ministry leaders have blocked off their schedules for the Arkansas Prayer Summit to get away and worship the Lord. No two Prayer Summits are ever alike, and God always has something special in store for those who gather in prayer to seek Him and find spiritual refreshment and connection with others.

In early March, men and women from churches big and small came to the Arkansas 4-H Center to expand their understanding and expression of prayer. To give you a peek behind the curtain of what happens at the Prayer Summit, we are highlighting three unique voices and their experience of the event: Arlene Mitchell (Prayer Leader), Greg Kirksey (Pastor), and Dennis Fuqua (Prayer Summit Facilitator).

What was your prayer or desire leading up to the Prayer Summit?

Arlene: I came to Arkansas two weeks before the Prayer Summit because God revealed to me that he wanted me to have a prayer event in Arkansas. Before that, I had never been to Arkansas in my life. I had only one friend there, but he told me, “We need that! I’ve been praying for something like that to happen!” When I met with leaders from his church (Mosaic Church) to share my testimony and my passion for prayer ministry, one of the men there, Paul Kroger, said, “If you’re really into prayer, you would enjoy the Arkansas Pastors’ Prayer Summit.”

Whenever something is God-ordained, He puts all the links together. He did that for me and made a way for me to attend the Prayer Summit. When I walked through the door that first night, I realized I was the only black female there. But you know what? I felt known and welcomed by everyone there. People need to know that no matter who you are, you are going to feel like you belong there.

Coming to the Prayer Summit, I told the Father, “I need you to refresh me.” I was ready for that and to be poured into by Him. And He did that and gave me so much more! I was also looking for prayer support because, as a prayer coach, I’m always praying for somebody else. I was anticipating that support, and it was well received.

Greg: As I prepared to attend my second Prayer Summit, I was not aware of any decision I was facing. I didn’t attend because I was necessarily looking for direction, but I needed the opportunity that the Prayer Summit provided to deepen my devotion to God by ‘coming apart’ for the sole purpose of spending time with Him.

In the midst of ministry, I often find myself weary and exhausted. I needed to rekindle the flame of God’s Spirit inside me, and nothing does that for me like getting away with no other agenda than spending time with God. I simply wanted to draw near to God in a way that I often find difficult in the midst of a busy life.

Describe your role as a facilitator at the Prayer Summit. How would you explain the approach to prayer that happens at a Prayer Summit?

Dennis: I see my role as a facilitator as one who cooperates with God and the people in the room to help all of us interact with God well. The specific type of prayer we aim for at a Prayer Summit can be summarized in the following little couplets: Spirit-led, worship-fed, Scripture-based, corporate prayer. Each of these could be expanded on, but that is the essence of what we seek to do.

What are some misconceptions people have about prayer? How do you respond to them?

Dennis: I think the biggest misconception is that prayer is not personal communication with a personal God. Therefore, we can tend to treat prayer like inserting coins into a cosmic vending machine. We put our prayers in and punch A-7, and if the product behind A-7 doesn’t pop out, we think there is something wrong with the machine. Instead of this view, prayer is primarily the communication portion of the most important relationship I have with the most important person in the universe! So, it is not primarily about asking God for things but interacting with Him.

What was unique about this year’s Prayer Summit? How was it impactful for you?

Arlene: I travel often and meet new people through my ministry. I feel like my life was expanded and is better because of this Prayer Summit. I loved hearing the pastors pray! They were praying from a pure place. It wasn’t a preacher trying to preach as he was praying. These were pastors sharing their hearts in an earnest way without hidden agendas, and that was refreshing to hear.

One time, I partnered with Greg and Michael to pray. I cried hearing those men pray. Because I’m often in the room praying with women, hearing these men pray the way they did was big for me. Ray prayed about his wife and the importance of family. Chris prayed about being a godly example as a husband and new father. When Keith prayed about his community, he just lit up. I loved his energy and excitement. I felt like he was a brother from another mother!

Greg: I have become a constant student of prayer. I read books, study prayers, and long to have a more powerful and impactful prayer life. One takeaway was the reminder of how significant the Lord’s Prayer is that Jesus gave us for providing the structure of our conversations with God. I’ve been in the ministry for over 50 years but continue to be blown away by new truths from old texts I’ve studied for decades. I received a fresh perspective on the Lord’s Prayer this year that is proving most helpful as I continue my summit experience in the mainstream of life.

One of the things God impressed on me was the significance of praying the Psalms. It impacted me more powerfully than ever when we were directed to get away by ourselves one morning for a few minutes and focus on Psalm 131. While this is a short Psalm with only three verses, I hardly got through the first phrase of the first verse written by King David (“Lord, my heart is not proud…”). I had to confess that I had pride in my heart. Not so much the arrogant kind of pride, but pride nonetheless, and it sickened me as I confessed it to my Heavenly Father. This moment alone, for me, was worth the entire Prayer Summit experience this year.

Dennis: I have used the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern for my prayer time for many years. At this Prayer Summit, the Lord led us to use it as a pattern for much of our time in prayer. This was unique and very meaningful to me personally. I was blessed by how well those sessions went.

What makes prayer an essential part of your life and ministry?

Arlene: I want to stay in tune with the Father. I want to stay in right relationship with Him, and prayer is the only way we stay in right relationship with Him. The Father loves that we want to be in relationship with Him. I love talking to Him, and He loves talking to me. He loves it when I sing to Him and give my voice back to Him. He loves it, and it’s such good fellowship. 

He’s my breath that I breathe. That’s what prayer is to me. My communication with Him is necessary for my survival. It is my lifeline. It’s my purpose of being. I believe the reason I was kept alive after two bouts of cancer was to assist others in the journey of understanding prayer a little bit better.

Greg: I have found prayer to be my fuel line that enables me and empowers me to fulfill what God has called me to do even when I find myself becoming physically exhausted. There is nothing more invigorating for me than a meaningful ‘face-to-face’ meeting with God. In addition to the empowering effect of prayer, it also crystalizes my perspective and helps me see things unseen that I would normally miss.

Imagine churches across our city being united in prayer. What would that look like? What would be different?

Arlene: Churches need to understand the necessity of prayer. Not all churches recognize the importance of having prayer in their churches. What would it look like if they did? You would see churches coming together and praying without ceasing. You would see churches devoted to prayer, not just feeling like they were assigned to prayer. Prayer is something near to God’s heart. Jesus got up early to be with His Father to pray. So, if He can do that, we should be so endeared to prayer that we want to get up early to be with Him. We stay alert and pray. We don’t sleep on the job. We stay awake and pray. Prayer not only changes things, but it changes us. The more we pray, the more prayer changes us.

We need more gatherings to pray as a united church. There’s power in numbers! There’s power in unity! What does the enemy come to do? To steal, kill, and destroy. If we are united in power, he can’t get through us! That’s why it’s essential for churches to come together in prayer.

Greg: In the midst of a deeply and increasingly troubled and lost world, I think it is imperative we utilize the assets God has provided His church to carry out His mission, and prayer is at the top of the list. If churches across the city committed to united, intercessory prayer for our city, state, nation, and the world, I am confident we would see a dramatic difference. Our ministries would be more effective and impactful as the Holy Spirit anointed our efforts and changed hearts.

Dennis: Two things come to mind. One is that churches across the city from different denominations and backgrounds would be praying for the same things at the same time. The other is there would be times when groups of people would come together for specific times of prayer and worship.

What would be different? Again, two things could be different. First, there would be a greater sense of the common needs in the community being carried by more people in the city than just one church or congregation. There would also be a greater number of people giving praise to God for answered prayers because they were part of the pray-ers praying for God’s answers.

What would you say to church leaders to encourage them to attend the Prayer Summit? 

Arlene: It’s worth the time because pastors need to breathe. Because pastors need to pause. Because pastors need to reflect. Because pastors need to be refreshed. Because pastors need a safe place to be transparent, to say, “I’m hurting” or “This is hard.”

I loved the intimacy of the Prayer Summit. There was no pomp and circumstance. It was just a group of us gathered in a circle having a conversation with our Father. It was so organic the way we would, at times, just burst into song, and everyone just sang together. We were a choir that didn’t need rehearsal. We just sang along with the Spirit.

Do you need a recharge? Come to the Prayer Summit! Do you need to be refreshed? Do you need prayer? Do you need to feel a sense of unity with others? Come to the Prayer Summit! I would tell every pastor to make the time for it. 

Greg: Pastors are too busy, the demands of ministry are too draining, the world is too dangerous, and the needs too urgent for pastors not to follow the example of Jesus and ‘come apart’ to pray. As long as we just squeeze prayer into our busy schedules wherever it fits, we will find ourselves running on fumes and growing discouraged as we rely on our own human strength and efforts to accomplish what only God can accomplish.

I have continued to focus on prayer after the Prayer Summit, and one of the things I’ve become convinced of is that prayer is more caught than taught. It was the disciples observing Jesus’ prayers that prompted them to ask Him to teach them how to pray, even though they had been praying for most of their adult lives. In both Prayer Summits I attended, God used other people in attendance, with their unique giftings, to speak to me and minister to me in ways I’m not sure would have been possible in any other forum. 

We can read about prayer and study prayer, but I always seem to learn more by being in the presence of others praying. Like an infant learning how to express herself as she becomes aware of the interactions of others in the room, we learn better how to interact with God in the presence of others interacting with God. 

Dennis: It is a wonderful thing when we are the answer to someone else’s prayer. When we come together to pray, we are actually part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17! What a glorious thought that we could be a small part of Jesus’ prayer! 

God’s method of reaching those outside His Church is through a united Church. One of the best ways to see the evil one defeated is by cooperating with other congregations. Our enemy is set on dividing the Church. As we are set on uniting the Church, we are teaming with God to see Satan’s defeat. I know of no better thing we can do to see a united Church than to see its pastors pray together. As we hear one another’s prayers and realize that those prayers echo my heart, I am drawn to that other pastor and recognize that we really are part of the same Church.

Chris Loux — CityChurch Network Communications Director

Arlene Mitchell is a native New Yorker living in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a Pastor of Prayer, certified coach, author, and motivational speaker, she travels the country proclaiming the power of prayer and empowering others through her prayer workshops. Through her weekly prayer conference calls and Facebook Live broadcasts, she has witnessed God’s healing, deliverance, restoration, and salvation. She celebrates the gift of life and gives all glory to God for being 14 years cancer-free after surviving not one but two bouts with breast cancer.

Greg Kirksey is the Teaching Pastor at The Church at Rock Creek in Little Rock. He served as an Adjunct Professor at Ouachita Baptist University for three years and is a guest speaker who communicates practical truths of the Bible to various churches, groups, and organizations. He has also served in a number of denominational leadership positions, including two terms as the President of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Dennis Fuqua is the Executive Director of International Renewal Ministries, which was integral to the birth of the Prayer Summit experience more than 30 years ago. He has facilitated hundreds of Prayer Summits, helping thousands of leaders experience effective, enjoyable prayer. He also served as a pastor of Peninsula Christian Fellowship in Gig Harbor, Washington, for 25 years.

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