Hoping for a new dawn for prayer in our country
In all his 72 years of life, James Condon has never seen such a wave of prayer take place across the country at this time.
“There are so many prayer groups,” says the former Salvation Army NSW and ACT commissioner who retired to the Sunshine Coast, where he says there are so many prayer groups that he hasn’t discovered them all yet.
“And there has been incredible progress with the establishment of houses of prayer across the country, including one here on the Sunshine Coast and the Australian House of Prayer. [for All Nations] in Adelaide.
As chairman of a new umbrella organization called Australia Prays, Condon says a key part of his vision is to unite these prayer groups, to “raise an army of prayer across Australia”.
Among the 700-800 people who tuned in to the online launch of Australia Prays earlier this month were Brian Pickering of the Australian Prayer Network, Warwick Marsh, the founder of the National Day of Prayer and Fasting, and Sue Tinworth , of Partners in Prayer and Evangelism (PIPES), the organization under which Australia Prays was created.
“We felt that the National Day of Prayer and Fasting did not reflect what we were doing. -James Condon
Condon, who took over as chair of the National Day of Prayer and Fasting seven years ago, says his executive felt the need to expand activities beyond one day a year.
“As we have journeyed, the National Day of Prayer and Fasting has called for prayer on more than one day of the year. So if there were major political issues, major national disasters, other events in the world, we would call a prayer meeting. So we were feeling that the National Day of Prayer and Fasting didn’t reflect what we were doing,” he explains.
About 18 months ago they began to ask God for his guidance and direction on the matter. And after exploring the possibilities with various Christian organizations across Australia, they joined PIPES – Partners in Prayer and Evangelism.
“If you go out yourself, you have so many hoops you have to go through, so many check-ins and all that kind of stuff. PIPES was a perfect fit as Sue was the initiator and leader of the 40 Days of Prayer, which took place each year before the National Day of Prayer and Fasting. So Sue is very passionate about prayer and was keen to see us come under that,” Condon says.
“We were previously under Australian Heart Ministries, with Warwick Marsh as coordinator from day one, but he had a number of ministries and when we spoke to him about moving he was totally supportive of it because he felt he had to let go and focus on other Australian ministries of the heart activities.
Thus, from April 30, Marsh will step down and the new National Coordinator for Australia and PRAY National Day of Prayer and Fasting will be Michael Smith.
When it came to finding a name for the new Dilated Prayer Network, Condon naturally enough asked God for guidance.
“I was praying early one morning before the executive meeting…and I said, ‘Lord, what’s the right name? And the Lord said to me: “Australia Prays”. I thought, ‘Oh, okay.’ So we had the executive meeting at 11 o’clock this morning. As we were going through the agenda, we came to the name and I said to him, “Look, people, I was praying this morning and what I feel the Holy Spirit is saying to me.
“Warwick said, ‘It’s amazing because it’s already a registered brand name.’ And the guy who owns the name had contacted Warwick about two weeks before our meeting and said, ‘Look, I’m not using this – would you like to use it’ And I didn’t know anything about it. I had never heard of it. So that’s how the name came to be.”
“One of the things we say is, ‘God, what do you want to call the nation to prayer for? -James Condon
A key part of Prays Australia is being a movement that waits on God and listens to God, says Condon.
“So when the new executive meets now every week, one of the things we say is, ‘God, what do you want to call the nation to prayer for?
“Our first prayer meeting under the new name after launch is April 28. And we will pray for the federal election, but we will see what the Holy Spirit leads us in terms of prayer.”
For Condon, a key scripture is from Psalm 133: How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity. “It’s part of our vision, bringing people together in prayer,” he said.
“I believe there has never been a time in Australian history when there has been such an outpouring of prayer as there is now.” -James Condon
Asked if he sees unity under threat in any way, he says he has never seen such an outpouring of prayer across the country.
He says his own life was greatly influenced by Peter Wagner, who was a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in the United States when Condon studied there in 1988. Wagner moved from teaching church growth to writing about prayer, spiritual warfare and spiritual mapping in the 90s.
“It influenced me a lot. So I look back and believe that there has never been a time in the history of Australia, there was such a surge of prayer as there is now. And God, we need,” he said.
“God says, ‘If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.’ [2 Chronicles 7:14].”
“It’s a new day of prayer in our country with the launch of Australia Prays. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but that is my hope and my prayer… Our vision is to see the kingdom of God come and His will fulfilled, in accordance with the Lord’s prayer.