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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thoughts On Prayer


Last week's Fresh Encounters prayer conference with Daniel Henderson was a personal time of encouragement and refreshment for me.  We had set this up last Spring and it was great timing to challenge us (and me) to keep a right focus on God.
Here are some observations and conclusions I have come away with.
1.     We need to pray because God is worthy of our effort.  Talk of prayer can quickly move into the guilt thing.  "There goes Pastor David, talking about prayer again.  I know I don't pray enough!  I wish he would shut up!"  I haven't met anyone who believes they pray enough.  But guilt isn't a motive for prayer.  Prayer is ultimately about our heart seeking God's heart.  We do that in private but we also need to encourage each other in this worthy pursuit through corporate prayer.
2.     Prayer doesn't need to be boring.  God is not boring.  Living a life of faith is not boring.  Why are so many of our times of prayer boring?  Especially when we pray together?  I've got to be honest, I have been reluctant to start a regular corporate prayer time because I have been so uninspired by most of the prayer times I have been a part of – and many of them I have led myself!!  I appreciated Daniel's Worship-based, Scripture-fed, Spirit-led approach to prayer.  I found our two times of corporate prayer during the weekend were fun and engaging.  Those boring prayer times were my fault, not God's.  I need to be a better leader to help us experience God in prayer more fully.  I am committed to learning and growing so I can do that.
3.     A life of prayer isn't going to be the easy path.  Of all the things I do to lead in ministry, personally and in my family, prayer is hands-down the hardest thing for me to do consistently and faithfully.  I've got a healthy dose of SADD – Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder – and I can always find something to do other than pray.  I think prayer takes two D's to be consistent:  Desperation and Discipline.  I have to truly believe I can't be fully alive and fully effective apart from a deep connection to God.  I am a pretty good Control-Freak-Type-A-Driven-Problem-Solver person.  It takes a lot for me to feel desperate.  Prayer helps nurture that deep dependence and connection to God.  As far as discipline, that's just a matter of "Going Nike".  You know what I mean – "Just Do It!"
4.     Prayer is of primary importance but it isn't the only thing of importance.  Prayer isn't the answer to all of our problems but it is where we find all of our answers.  God still calls us to work, love, lead, follow, serve, think, plan, say "yes" and say "no".  (See Philippians 2:12-13)  But prayer is the power source by which we can do those things right and do them well.  The volume and fervency of our prayer life reveals who we believe has the most power.  Little prayer – we believe we have the power.  Much prayer – we believe God has the power.
5.     We need to pray more.  When I was in Ethiopia, every church I went to had something in common.  Every church had kneeling pads laying around on the floor.  Those kneeling pad were for people who were down on their knees in prayer.  I remember writing the simple statement in my journal – "I need to pray and fast more."  In each of the churches I was at, the leaders of those churches laid their hands on me and prayed for our church and for me.  I could only understand a few words (Jesus and thank you!) but they prayed fervently, loudly and for a long time.  I was moved and inspired.
So, we are going to pray more.  Every day from 8:30 - 9 AM we are having a prayer time for the staff and anyone who would like to join us.  During those times we will begin by seeking God's heart and asking for his hand to move.  I'm encouraging every Life Group and Bible Study leader to give a "tithe" (a tenth) of your group time to prayer.  So, if you meet for two hours (120 minutes) you will spend at least 12 minutes in prayer – not talking about prayer or prayer requests, actual talking-to-God time.  Some Life Groups are going to have prayer as their primary focus, using the tools of Fresh Encounter as a guide to lead in Worship-based prayer.  And I am planning some corporate prayer encounters that will not be boring!  Stay tuned, more details to come. 
Our mission is still "We exist to make disciples of Jesus Christ from our community."  Our definition of a disciple is still "A transformed life who is trusting in Jesus such that they are loving God and loving people."  Our vision is still "Growing transformed lives through experiencing the love, truth, presence and people of Jesus."  The way we help disciples grow is still "Invite – Connect – Give – Grow".  What we are doing is not chasing a fad, it is intentionally and more deeply plugging into our power source.  It is returning to the roots of how our church has experienced transformation the last 12 years.
Wouldn't it be cool if someone asked you where you went to church and when you told them they would respond, "Oh, that's the church that prays."  That's my dream.
            Being your pastor is a privilege.  Let's keep moving forward, embracing the grace of God in its fullness.
Peace and grace,
David

1 comment:

ET said...

I first read this blog with a ministry coordinator's eye for whatever details you put in... kinda a matter of fact, not-too-warm-way to read your blog, huh? But then I read through it again. I read the line describing what if CSCC was described as: "Oh, that's the church that prays." At those words (which I must've skimmed over before), my heart felt like God had just given it a little squeeze. Oh my... wouldn't that be powerful and wonderful? That we recognize our desperation for God? Oh my. It's possible.