By JOHN FORTMEYER
PORTLAND — A concentrated prayer effort for the Rose City and surrounding area began about four years ago with one Beaverton church, but when it returns at the end of this month it will have grown into a major campaign involving more than two dozen churches.
Titled “Seven” — because it stretches over the seven days from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 — the emphasis on intercession and fasting is notable not only because of its obvious growth, but also its informal tone and simple format that requires no detailed oversight by any single entity.
“It is a genuinely grassroots effort,” said Kevin Palau, president of the Luis Palau Association, who is joining with pastors across the Portland metro area in promoting Seven.
“Seven” is rooted in an emphasis launched several years ago by Solid Rock Church in Beaverton and promoted by its senior pastor, John Mark Comer. By last year it had grown to include about six churches.
The general concept for “Seven” this year was backed by representatives of participating churches in a meeting Aug. 22 at Imago Dei Community church. It calls for prayer meetings on Sunday, Sept. 30 at the various individual churches to start things off, then a specific schedule of prayer gatherings each of the following six days. They are: Monday, Oct. 1 and Friday, Oct. 5, both at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Portland; Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. at New Hope Community Church in Happy Valley; Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. at Imago Dei Community; Thursday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. at Beaverton Foursquare Church; and Saturday, Oct. 6, at 10 a.m. at Tom McCall Waterfront Park downtown. Each 90-minute service will be collaborative, led by about half a dozen key pastors from the local area and in a “concert of prayer” format.
“It’s a neat movement to pray for the city,” said Kurt Kroon, director of local and global outreach at New Hope, which was among the several churches taking part in “Seven” last year. “It’s not complicated; there’s nothing bigger or grander going on. It’s something that lots of churches can get behind and be part of.”
Palau said several thousand people took part last year in “Seven” even though there were only a handful of churches involved, so the potential is there for a huge increase in participation with so many more churches on board.
Palau said the churches represent a wide range of backgrounds within the evangelical spectrum. Besides those mentioned above, among the many others are Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin, Village Baptist Church and Resound Church in Beaverton, Southlake Foursquare in West Linn; Colossae Church in Tigard and Door of Hope, Irvington Covenant, Life Change Christian Center, Mars Hill Church, Maranatha Church, Clear Creek Community, Cedar Hill Bible Church, and Mosaic Church, all in Portland.
Palau said it was inspiring at last month’s meeting to see “pastors of many of the largest churches in town come out for a couple of hours, to pray with each other, and do a simple strategy that doesn’t cost a lot of money — and to come in unity.”
The bottom-line goal of “Seven” is a unity in prayer among God’s people that can then spark a spiritual renewal in the entire city.
“What if Portland woke up to the fact that God is alive and at work?” states a summary on the “Seven” event web site. “What if this city, instead of being known as a liberal, pluralistic society, defined by apathy, entitlement and brokenness, was transformed by the Gospel of Jesus and became known among the nations as a place where God is alive? God placed us in one of the least churched cities in America, and through us the God of the miraculous is on the move … Prayer touches the heart of God. He desires to bless this city and see it prosper.”
Links to suggested readings and a teaching from Comer to prepare for participation in “Seven” can be found at www.sevenpdx.org.