CATCHING FIRE by Jim Cymbala

Upon my return from a short, restful trip, I greeted the people of my congregation with something important on my heart.

“Brothers and sisters,” I began, “I really feel that I’ve heard from God about the future of our church. While I was away, I was calling out to God to help us—to help me—understand what He wants most from us. And I believe I’ve heard an answer.

“It’s not fancy or profound or spectacular. But I want to say to you today with all the seriousness I can muster: From this day on, the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. What happens on Tuesday night will be the gauge by which we will judge success or failure because that will be the measure by which God blesses us.

“If we call upon the Lord, He has promised in His Word to answer, to bring the unsaved to Himself, to pour out His Spirit among us. If we don’t call upon the Lord, He has promised nothing—nothing at all. It’s as simple as that. No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in, the future will depend upon our times of prayer.

“This is the engine that will drive the church. Yes, I want you to keep coming on Sundays—but Tuesday night is what it’s really all about.”

A minister from Australia (or perhaps it was New Zealand) happened to be present that morning—a rare occurrence. After I introduced him and invited him to say a few words, he walked to the front and made just one comment:

“I heard what your pastor said. Here’s something to think about: You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning. You can tell how popular the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night. But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting.”

And with that he walked off the platform. That was all. I never saw him again.


Jim Cymbala began Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson and a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world.