About 2 weeks ago, I attended a conference in Davao City, Philippines called United Prayer Rising (or UPRisingPH).
More than a conference, UPRisingPH was really a massive prayer event, established on the conviction that prayer changes history and shapes the destinies of nations. I (Paul) was privileged to bring my eldest daughter along to UPRisingPH, and it was my great joy to see her engage with God at almost every altar call and prayer segment despite her inability to speak or understand Filipino.
During one of the sessions, I quickly jotted down some thoughts and observations I had of the event, and I want to share these with you. Here are some of my reflections from the event:
1. There was genuine engagement in spiritual warfare at UPRisingPH, founded on the biblical understanding that principalities and powers exist (Eph. 6:12) and can only be thwarted by prayer, fasting, and worship. The prayers prayed at UPRisingPH were emotional and heartfelt, no doubt; but they were led by informed and perceptive leaders. The leaders and pastors of UPRisingPH understood that the issues they were addressing in the Philippines could not merely be solved or understood by sociological and anthropological factors, but also by engaging spiritual realities and means.
2. The leaders at UPRisingPH carried a vision larger than the local churches and ministries they led - they burned with a vision for their nation. As a pastor, I found this refreshing and challenging. In my role, I have to be faithful to the welfare and success of my local church; but I believe God has also anointed me with a capacity to dream big. So let's dream big and believe God that He can use us to impact the nation we are in, wherever we might be!
3. Unity matters and must be proactively pursued because it doesn't just happen. I listened to a "bishop" (the title used by Filipinos for leaders who lead denominations, movements, or major ministries) share about how bishops/overseers in the Philippines have been getting together for some R&R and strategic planning. They are actively working together to see more evangelical churches planted in a country that has approximately 13% evangelical Christians. I'm not sure if you got what I just said - these are not just bishops/overseers of a single denomination getting together to ensure growth within their denomination. These are multiple denominational bishops/overseers working together to see the Kingdom move forward in the Philippines! This highlights the importance of unity at every level of Kingdom life - whether it be within a local church, among local churches, or between denominational leaders. Unity matters, God honours it, and we have to be actively and continuously pursuing it.
4. Generational unity/partnership that says "NO" to individualism and an independent/isolated spirit. I know firsthand that the heart of UPRisingPH is built on generational reconciliation and honour: turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers (Mal. 4:5-6 and Luke 1:17). The founder of United Prayer Rising, Jerome Ocampo, would often say to the delegates that isolation is the greatest killer of people's spiritual lives and destinies. And that's not just isolation from community and family, but includes isolation from generational, divinely-given dreams and destiny. Individualism says, "I have a destiny that's uniquely my own." But Jesus was different; He said, "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 15:19). Jesus, the most unique and most secure Person in the universe, understood the power of generational partnership. UPRisingPH embodied this dynamic powerfully - clearly impacting the lives of many young people present.
5. Identificational repentance matters. Lots of national sins were addressed at UPRisingPH. But the prayers that were prayed were not prayed with a condemning tone, but with an attitude and character of humility - the sins of the Filipino people were sins of all Filipino people, whether saved or unsaved.
6. There was a tangible faith-filled longing for God to move without abdicating the responsibility of God's people to act. I find that this is often the contention of people against prayers for revival - why pray for what God commands us to do (e.g. evangelism, disciple-making, etc,)? But in my experience, the number of significant ministries that are birthed out of these prayer events is undeniable evidence that prayer is not an act of abdication of Kingdom-responsibility, but an act of "birthing" and activation of what the Holy Spirit has placed in us.
I can also add to this list the unashamed and free expressiveness of praise and worship that I observed from UPRisingPH. Filipinos are SO expressive and artistic, and it is beautifully shown in the way they worship the Lord. I pray for God's ongoing favour on this ministry as it continues to spread in the Philippines, as well as in other parts of the world. I look forward to bringing my family along to events run by United Prayer Rising, and hope to bring my church along in this journey.
Check out the video summaries of UPRisingPH below: