On the way to the Lausanne Congress II in Manila, Philippines, in July 1989, a ministry colleague and I took two extra days to stop in Korea. We wanted to experience first hand the “prayer culture” that marked the churches of that nation. On Saturday we took a bus to visit the most famous Prayer Mountain, owned by Yoido Full Gospel Church, where thousands from their congregation visited each week. We learned upon arrival that this Prayer Mountain was called the Fasting Prayer Mountain. These people were serious.
After several hours at the mountain our bus returned us to the church building, a facility that seated 25,000 members in the main sanctuary for multiple services each weekend. While checking the building out we were approached by an American woman who wanted to know why we were there. We told her we were on our way to the Lausanne Congress and had stopped to learn more about the Korean prayer culture. She was the personal assistant to Dr. Cho, the Senior Pastor, and invited us to her office to talk.
After learning more about the role that prayer played in the life of the church, from the 5 am daily prayer meetings to the thousand who joined for Friday all night prayer, the priority of prayer in the thousands of home cell meetings and the role of prayer in the weekend services, I had one more question. “Tell us about Pastor Cho’s personal prayer life.”
She told us that Dr. Cho prayed between 3 to 4 hours a day. Then she shared a story to illustrate the priority. One afternoon she received a call from the President of Korea who said, “This is the President of Korea and I must speak to Pastor Cho.” She responded by saying, “I’m sorry, Pastor Cho is not available.” The President shared with more intensity, “This is the President of Korea. I have an urgent matter and I must speak to Pastor Cho.” She responded by saying, “I’m very sorry but Pastor Cho is in a very important meeting and I cannot disturb him.”
The President of Korea was not used to this kind of response. He became very firm, raised his voice and said, “This is the President of Korea and I have a very urgent matter and I must speak to Pastor Cho!” She responded with equal firmness by saying, “I’m sorry but Pastor Cho is meeting with the King of the universe – and he must not be disturbed!”
We left our meeting with a new appreciation of the priority of prayer in the lives of our Korean friends.