In 1972, a young, untrained pastor struggled to lead a small, multiracial church in a drug-ridden neighborhood of Brooklyn. There was no money for a pastor’s salary, no money for much-needed repairs, no money to even pay the mortgage.
One Sunday night, Pastor Jim Cymbala began to preach. Feeling called to minister to the people of Brooklyn, but not knowing what to do in a seemingly hopeless situation, he choked up and tears filled his eyes. Pastor Cymbala called for the people to come to the altar and pray, and sobbing, he cried out to God for help. God’s Spirit swept over the people, the people began to pray, and God answered.
In the weeks and months that followed, prayer became the focal point of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. The more the people cried out to God, the more they saw His mighty hand at work in sometimes miraculous ways. Today, the Brooklyn Tabernacle is a thriving multicultural megachurch built around a fervent ministry of intercessory prayer.
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire is Pastor Cymbala’s account of the struggles in the early days of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, of the revival that swept through the community by the Spirit of God, and of the foundational ministry of prayer and utter dependence on God that makes the work of the church possible. It is an easy and inspirational read, yet full of godly wisdom, especially as regards the utter necessity of prayer in the Church. As Cymbala writes, “The work of God can only be carried on by the power of God. The church is a spiritual organism fighting spiritual battles. Only spiritual power can make it function as God ordained.” (Cymbala 97)
The commitment to prayer that has defined and empowered the ministry of the Brooklyn Tabernacle is summed up in these words which Pastor Cymbala spoke to his congregation one Sunday morning in the early years:
“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 our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer.” (Cymbala 27)