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NAMB staff challenged to spend an hour each day alone with God


ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The leader of one of the world’s largest evangelical missions organizations challenged North American Mission Board staff Sept. 1-3 to spend up to an hour daily alone with God in personal prayer.
Dick Eastman, international president of Every Home for Christ based in Colorado Springs, Colo., was one of the principle speakers during the second annual “Days of Spiritual Focus” for NAMB staff, conducted simultaneously at NAMB offices in Alpharetta and Fort Worth, Texas.
The emphasis included worship through song led by music evangelists Jeff and Joy Earle, teaching, and directed prayer in a variety of formats. Prayer was offered for personal and corporate renewal, as well as intercession for specific needs in a variety of NAMB’s ministries and for spiritual awakening around the world.
Staff members also were asked to fast from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day as part of the spiritual emphasis, with many staffers choosing to fast the entire three days.
Eastman, author of the classic book on prayer “The Hour That Changes the World,” along with a number of other titles, told how God had revealed to him early in his ministry the importance of prayer. In the early ‘70s he discovered the value of a daily appointment with God in a personal prayer closet for a full hour every day. He said it has helped him not only see prayers answered consistently on a global scale but also made him more attuned to God’s leadership and direction.
“I’ve become convinced that the key to a praying church is a praying leader, and we as leaders in the body (of Christ) ought to be mentors to those who are coming up and set an example in prayer,” he said.
Other speakers at the conference addressed the attitudes that can affect an individual’s relationship with God.
In describing the nation of Israel’s on-again, off-again relationship with God as they traveled toward the promised land, NAMB President Bob Reccord encouraged staff to examine their own motivations.
“Which do you desire more, the hand of God or the heart of God?” he said. “… God said, as you celebrate my presence I will give you my provision, but my provision will never be given to you until you are ready for it.”
The person who desires the hand of God more than the heart of God, Reccord said, will be:
— focused more on the problem than the problem-solver.
— focused more on what God can do for them than who he is to them.
— focused more on talking than on listening.
— focused more on output than intake. “Do you ever find it tempting instead of spending time at the feet of God, to spend all of your time doing things for God?” Reccord asked.
Randy Singer, NAMB’s executive vice president and a former trial attorney, detailed a series of “indictments” keeping the nation from God’s blessings. One of those was an “indictment of envy” against a Christian community that too often has been unwilling to work together for the common cause of Christ.
“I pray at NAMB we never say, ‘God bring revival through the North American Mission Board,’” he said. “… I pray that we say, ‘God, bring revival through whatever agency you choose to bring glory to yourself.” One of the hallmarks of the year-old agency has been cooperation with like-minded evangelical groups to achieve common goals of evangelization.
Kerry Skinner, an associate in NAMB’s office of prayer and spiritual awakening, challenged staff members to examine their own lives for the sins that are keeping them from experiencing an unfettered relationship with God.
In his own life, Skinner said, the problem was a root of anger and bitterness that hindered his relationship with God for an extended period — even while he was spending time daily in prayer.
“People can’t see what’s wrong because they don’t understand what sin is,” said Skinner, who with Henry Brandt is co-author of a study course on the topic of sin titled, “The Heart of the Problem.”
“Many times the sin we have in our life we will say is really not that bad, and ‘I can handle this.’”
He noted the tendency often is to “manage” sin rather than to truly acknowledge it and offer repentance.
“It’s a serious issue to say, … ‘God, search our heart.’ It’s another to say ‘God cleanse me.’ Because with a lot of people, they have had sin so long its like a family heirloom,” Skinner said.
NAMB’s three days of spiritual focus were also marked by an emphasis on personal encouragement. Employees wrote “encourage-grams” to colleagues — an idea borrowed from World Changers youth mission trips. And staff were asked to pray for and write to trustees, missionaries and chaplains on pre-addressed postcards.
“I want to remind us why we exist,” Reccord challenged the staff at one point. “It is not to fill a nice building. It is not to have a job. … You exist here because of a call of God. You exist here to minister to other folks. And you exist here to support a mission force.”

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  • James Dotson