“What you'll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world . . . They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer . . . When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force--no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.”~ Acts 1:8, 1: 14, 2:1-4
This is the scene taken from the book of Acts. The 50th day after Easter Day is known as the Pentecost - an important date for Christians. In the tradition of the Israelis, the chosen people of God, 50 days symbolises the holiness and freedom given by the Holy Spirit. As the prophecy said, all people can receive the power of the Holy Spirit from the above. Tracing back to the days of apostles, the promise of God should also be fulfilled in this age among Christians.
According to Kelly Davis, a student mobilisation consultant for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, "Before His ascension, Jesus told his followers to assemble and pray. It was during that time of prayer that the Holy Spirit came in great power, and the church was born."
In the view of receiving this blessing from God, a network of youth ministries and missions organisations have issued a call to prayer at the night before Pentecost. The initiative is named “A Whole Night for the Whole World”. It aims to gather millions of student groups all over the world to spend a night in prayer for 2.1 billion teenagers, most of whom have never even heard the good news of God's love. May 29 is the night before Pentecost.
This prayer meeting is called to save this decaying world, filled with the broken- hearted and wanderers, especially among today's youth.
"Everywhere I go, I meet young people whose hearts are broken over the lostness of their generation," Davis said. "A Whole Night for the Whole World is a call to reach this generation, in this generation, by this generation."
Evangelists believe that by no humanistic means can people change the world, only through the power of the Holy Spirit, the word of God and love from Above can salvation be reached. Prayer is therefore the very first and direct step in igniting God’s spirit among young people, said Richard Ross of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Moreover, the prayer drive is God's call, not man's, said Scott Kindig, youth ministry consultant for the Georgia Baptist Convention. He admitted that it seems to be very harsh to ask young people to pray overnight, but actually God has revealed his call to people to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5: 17.
"He calls them to take up their crosses and follow Him in Luke 9: 23. He calls them to go into all the world and make disciples in Matthew 28: 19- 20. I believe the Christian leaders have to echo a louder voice and make the whole world participate," said Kindig.
The official website www.worldnight.com has been built to provide guidance and resources for youth groups that want to be part of the worldwide night of prayer. For instance, there are some suggested “9pm to 5am” plans for the possible programmes held for the whole night. The time for praying in each continent has also been set so that international groups can be really united in prayer. Until now, around 30 youth ministries or mission organisations in the United States have signed up, and more international Christian groups are expected to join.
Historically prayer is very successful in bringing spiritual revival. Prayer ignited revival among students in the Second Great Awakening and propelled thousands to the nations with the gospel in 1804 and 1805 while a century later, in 1904 and 1905, prayer was a major factor in bringing revival among students in the Global Awakening.
"Now, another century later, I sense God is moving in an unusual way among students again,” Richard Ross of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said. He is also encouraged by students’ initiative in calling for the worldwide prayer on 29 May and he earnestly asks for the Lord’s amazing work in the event.
"A Whole Night for the Whole World" will be followed by a prayer on May 30th focussing on praying for the 43 million people in seven countries in the Arab world. This is jointly organised by the Southern Baptist churches across the United States.