A group of local church leaders are breaking down the barriers of their houses of worship to unite in prayer.
About 15 local churches formed the Unified House of Prayer, a non-denominational group that hosts a revolving door, come-as-you-are prayer service monthly at different churches throughout the area.
“The goal is that through this unity we will take the love of Jesus out to the people,” said Pastor Josh Motely of Grace and Truth Ministries in Sandwich. “If we just stay in our churches, nothing is going to spread.”
About four months ago, a council of pastors from Sandwich decided to join the churches through a monthly unified prayer service. Six churches have committed to host the two-hour services, where anyone is invited to pray for as long as they want.
Motely said the group was inspired by John 17, the last passage in the Bible before Jesus is taken by the soldiers and delivered to Pontious Pilate, who sentenced Jesus to be crucified. In the passage, Jesus asks for people to be one just as he and God are one.
Motely and fellow pastors saw the prayer group as a starting point to follow Jesus's will to unite.
“Man-made doctrines and interpretations put up dividing walls between us instead of focusing on Jesus and his sacrifice,” Motely said. “If he is the way to the truth and the life then what else should really matter?”
The inaugural Unified House of Prayer meeting happened last month at the Sandwich Federated Church where people's willingness to share their prayers pleased the church's pastor, Don Ridder.
He went into the service without pre-conceived notions of what would happen. What he found was people from about 10 churches praying aloud or to themselves. Many who came prayed for teenagers, which Ridder found as an approving message from God about the youth ministry his church is considering launching.
Being part of the Unified House of Prayer for Ridder means breaking down the barriers made by denominations, buildings or times to join together in their relationships with God.
“When we're in prayer that's the heart of it,” Ridder said. “For us all to be together as one body of Christ to pray, it's such a beautiful thing. It's like we're sharing the same heart beat.”
On Wednesday, the group met at the clubhouse in Lakewood Springs in Plano, where Apostle Michael King's church, Worldwide Deliverance Ministries, meets.
“I feel as we come into a time of prayer, the spirit of God is present,” King said. “We come out of the four walls and become unified together. This takes away the walls, takes away the barriers.”
Coming together in Christ is nothing new for Tom Romano of Plano, who attended both of the prayer services. Although his home church is Plano Christian, he attends Bible studies at various other churches and has prayed with people from across denominations.
The idea of letting the walls of a church get in the way of unifying seemed pretty absurd, Romano said.
“I feel like we're finally acting like we're part of the same body,” Romano said. “It makes me feel edified. It makes me feel like we're part of the same family.”
For more information on the Unified House of Prayer, including future prayer locations and dates, visit www.gtmi.net/unified-house-of-prayer.