Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Written Prayers

I don't know what you think about written prayers, but I find that using written prayers in my own devotional life with God broadens my Christian horizon, articulates unexpressed thoughts and desires, and connects me with Christians from very different historical and cultural situations yet who have experienced the same God I know and love.

Two written prayers have captured me recently.

The first is from Basil the Great (c.330-379), Bishop of Caesarea, theologian, and one of the three great Cappadocian Fathers of the church. I love the way he captures the imagery of traveling by sea, contemporary for his world and relevant to mine.

"Steer the ship of my life, Lord, to Your quiet harbor, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict. Show me the course I should take. Renew in me the gift of discernment, so that I can see the right direction in which I should go. And give me the strength and the courage to choose the right course, even when the sea is rough and the waves are high, knowing that through enduring hardship and danger in Your Name, we shall find comfort and peace. Amen. "

The second if from Henry Martyn (1781-1812), scholar and pioneer missionary to India and Persia.

"Lord, I am blind and helpless, stupid and ignorant, cause me to hear; cause me to know; teach me to do; lead me."

To that I can identify! I feel that way too!

What do you think about written prayers? Do you have any written prayers that have been meaningful to you? Can you identify with, echo, pray one of these prayers to God from your heart?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Does Your Church Pray?

How does your church pray? If I were to list the ways our church prays, I would include:

• Various kinds of prayers at worship gatherings
• Prayer chain
• Prayer at multiple ministries & meetings, often at beginning & end
• Elders Saturday morning prayer
• Wednesday night prayer gathering
• Monthly Potluck & Prayer
• Sunday Morning Communities prayer
• Small group prayer
• Elders prayer for healing

You might say, "Well, it appears we are a praying church!"

Yet within me is a holy dissatisfaction that we are missing Holy Spirit energized, fervent, faith-filled, passionate, transformative, fruit-bearing prayer!

There is a difference between a church that prays and a praying church. Prayer needs to be central.

Prayer is the place of power that brings about tangible results. Prayer is the source of releasing God’s love and blessing. Prayer is the environment in which God shows up.

To that end we keep praying about praying!

• To invite God to come down and visit us with his manifest presence.
• To ask the Lord to forgive us for our praylessness.
• To implore the Spirit of God to breathe new life into our church.
• To get desperate for the oil of the Spirit to flow within every ministry and gathering.
• To seek the Lord for a fresh visitation from heaven!

Doing ministry apart from the fervent prayers of God’s people is like running in waist high water. You expend a lot of energy to move forward a little distance. I want to expend less energy to gain more much for God.

That’s what prayer does, because prayer is the work, and then God works!

And when God wants to do something great, he gets his people to praying.