By United Methodist News Service

United Methodists around the world are asked to pray for God's guidance for the church in the time leading up to and during the denomination's 2008 legislative assembly.

The Central Texas Conference host committee, which is preparing for the assembly next spring in Fort Worth, has issued a "A Call to Prayer for General Conference 2008."

"Just as prayer is as essential to the Christian life as breath, so prayer is essential to our shared life together as we prepare for General Conference 2008," the committee said in its call.

"We on the General Conference Hosting Committee Prayer Ministries Team invite you to pray daily for General Conference 2008 and for all the preparations and deliberations leading up to it so that in all that we do we are 'rooted and grounded in love'," the committee said.

Nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world will meet April 23-May 2 in Fort Worth to revise The United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions, approve a budget for general ministries, speak to issues of the day, worship and celebrate the church's work. General Conference meets every four years.

"We feel that the prayers of all United Methodists are crucial as we approach General Conference," said Judy Tutt, co-chairperson of the Prayer and Discernment Ministries Team. "If we are to discern God's will for our denomination, it is important for every member to be informed about and to pray about the issues that will come before the conference. That's why we are trying to disseminate the Call to Prayer to as many United Methodist publications and Web sites worldwide as we possibly can."

Tutt's co-chairperson, Len Delony, wrote the prayer contained within the committee's call to prayer statement.

"People might pray this particular prayer or they might be led to pray for General Conference in another way," Tutt said. "They might be led to Ephesians 3:14-21, or other portions of Scripture may speak to them more clearly. Our hope is that more and more United Methodists will lift up General Conference during all of their regular prayer time and Bible study in the coming months."

The committee is planning several types of prayer spaces at General Conference, including "Second Breath" prayer tents near the convention floor, Delony said. The prayer spaces are designed to help the church experience General Conference as a time of "holy conferencing," he said.