Pingliang Church in China's north-central Gansu Province has been holding daily morning prayer meetings for eight years since 2013.
One day in October 2021, I attended one of the meetings.
The daily morning prayer meeting begins at 8:00 am. On that day, I entered the prayer room on the third floor. Elder Guo Aiying reminded everyone of the verses and contents that were going to be read that day and then led everyone to read the scriptures aloud. Next, Deacon Mu Yingxia led the prayer part in the second half. Mu first made a deep interpretation of the scriptures which had just been read, and at the same time further refined the theme of the scriptures read. The next step was to pray and lead everyone else to pray together according to the scriptures.
After the meeting, the seminar about morning prayer meetings began, led by Pastor Li Jianguo. He introduced the idea that after the implementation of the policy of religious freedom in 1984, Pingliang Church also resumed church meetings in that same year. The morning prayer meetings were organized voluntarily by several elderly people. Sometimes only as few as three people attended the morning prayer meetings who were Grandpa Liu, the church doorman back then, his wife and daughter. The maximum attendance was about fifteen.
After he graduated from the seminary in July 1991, Pastor Li was assigned to serve full-time at Pingliang Church. Since then, he has attended morning prayer meetings every day, and he took it as an opportunity to organize Bible studies. He did so for about years, starting with Genesis, then went through the whole of the Old and New testament.
The morning prayer meeting led by the heads of each church began in 1999. Every morning from 6:30 to 7:30 at Pingliang Church, people from the twelve congregations in the city under the jurisdiction of the church would take turns leading the morning prayer meetings. Three years later, one day towards the end of 2012, the Pingliang Church Council decided after consultation: Firstly, that holding the morning prayer meeting once a day should be included in the important ministry of the church. Second, that the morning prayer meeting should be organized by the church with a dedicated person. The time was set to start at 8 am in the morning and end at 9 an. Thirdly, the venue to hold the morning prayer meetings should be fixed in the prayer room on the third floor of the church. Then the said prayer room was renovated and fitted with air-conditioning.
During the seminar, Elder Zhang Baohua said that while he was serving in Kongtong Gospel Church, the church building had to be relocated in 2017 due to the needs of a waterworks. However, when they prayed with one heart every morning at the Pingliang morning prayer meeting, the Kongtong Gospel Church was not moved.
Sister Liang Hongling shared that although she oversaw the church calligraphy group, she actually did not know how to write calligraphy herself. It was the daily morning prayer meetings that gave her the confidence to learn how to write calligraphy well. Moreover, the calligraphy learning activities over the years made her realize that calligraphy is a good window for the church to spread the gospel. Most people who came to the church every year to learn calligraphy were not Christians at first. But by coming to the church to participate in calligraphy activities and writing God's Word, they gradually learnt about Christ Jesus, and also began to read the Bible. Most of these calligraphy lovers finally believed in the Lord.
In the end, Pastor Li mentioned that the person leading prayers should take the initiative to collect the content needed for the prayer in advance and use a passage of the Bible to guide daily prayers. Those who lead morning prayer meetings should also learn by themselves and prepare encouraging messages and short verses and poems to lead the prayer in advance. At the same time, during the morning prayer meetings, there must be scripture reading, prayer, and singing of praise.
- Translated by Stephen Huang