Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Prayer Life of a Church

How is the prayer life of your church? Part of that answer includes the prayer life of individual Christians. But if you were to evaluate specifically how central is prayer to the life and health and growth of your church, how would you asssess your church?

One of the core values of our denomination, The Christian & Missionary Alliance, is prayer: "Prayer is the primary work of the people of God."

One of the core values of our church is prayer: "Doing everything in prayerful dependence upon the Lord and expecting God’s manifest presence."

Yet are we satisfied with our answers to prayer? Are we satisfied with the results of prayer? Are we seeing the genuine spiritual fruit of prayer in changed lives?

The life of a church not being surrounded, bathed, and covered by a blanket of prayer is like running in waist high water. You expend a lot of energy to gain little.

I want to expend a lot of energy for God and gain much. I want to pour out myself for others and gain much.

That may mean rethinking how we do prayer as a congregation. That may mean reinventing church prayer structures.

Whatever it takes, we need God. We want God. We are desperate for God's manifest presence.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

30 Days to Pray About Praying!

Some wonder why church community prayer is important. They wonder if corporate prayer is really emphasized in the Bible at all.

Yet Jesus wants his church to be a "house of prayer" (Matthew 21:31). In fulfilling the five purposes of the church -- worship, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship and ministry -- prayer surrounds and envelopes and bathes them all.

Our Lord taught us to pray: "Our Father . . . give us today our daily bread . . . forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." All plurals.

We also see in the Acts 1 how the church was gathered together with united hearts and minds in one place praying together in community -- "all joined together constantly in prayer" (Acts 1:14).

Then in that atmosphere of prayer, the Holy Spirit came upon them in Acts 2, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And the church exploded with power and expanded with people.

Let me invite you for the next 30 days to pray about praying! To pray something like this:

"Lord, teach me to pray. Lord, teach us to pray. Breathe new life into my stale prayer life. Lead our church community to form fresh avenues and structures for prayer. Grant me, and our church family, a fresh spirit of prayer!"

30 days to pray about praying. A 30-day prayer experiment. A 30-day spiritual adventure. I wonder what God will do!

Tell me what you sense the Lord saying to you about prayer. . . .

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Bible Changes Lives

We say the Word of God is inspired by God, and the inspired Word of God changes lives. But I'm curious. Specifically, can you think of a personal example where the Word of God changed your life? The more I thought about it, the more verses came to mind.

I think of 1 Corinthians 2:14 that describes how "spiritual things are spiritually discerned". Having grown up in a Christian home, my father as a pastor, I knew a lot of Bible stuff. But I really didn't understand the Christian life, nor did I know God.

Yet when I heard this verse at age 18, a light dawned on me. I could not understand spiritual things until I was spiritually reborn. I was a spiritual skeleton without muscle or tissue or life.

I also recall Isaiah 41:10, which was such a strength to me while serving on a 10-month missions trip to the Philippines -- "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

I often leaned upon God and felt God's hand upholding me during that season of my life.

A third verse that has been especially life transformative is Psalm 27:8, "My heart says of you, 'Seek his face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek."

I hear that verse often echoing deep down into me. And I respond with full face upward to God.

Yes, the Bible has saved me, guided me, changed me. And I'm curious about you. What specific verse from the Scriptures has changed you? Tell me about it. I'm interested.