I think that faithful prayer is hard for most Christians. We might do fine in times of crisis and stress, but for the majority of Christians, daily times of prayer are missing. This is why we have chosen Romans 12:12 as the theme verse for 2011. It will remind us to move forward in our relationship with God this year. The spiritual discipline of conversation with God through prayer is essential to our spiritual growth. In 2010, we got our noses in the scripture and so many of you read the Bible like never before. It is my prayer that this year will be a transforming year for your prayer life. If Jesus doesn’t come back in 2011, I want you to be able to say that this year of prayer has changed your life.
365revolutions had a fairly easy game plan: 1)Grab some bookmarks and a bible and read every day, 2)attend a gathering or visit the website to talk about it with others, 3)listen to the Pastors’ messages that were taken from the readings.
A year with a prayer focus is not so simple. Sure we’d love for you to check off a bookmark saying that you prayed every day, but there is so much more to learn and many more ways for you to become a fervent prayer warrior. Prayer is deeply personal, and also profoundly corporate. Seventy times the psalmist declares that he is crying to the Lord,
Over the year, we will have seasons of prayer movements, some corporate, some small group, and some individual. Each of these will encourage you to grow in your dependence upon the Lord.
Triads-You and two others will form a triad, and hold one another accountable to pray for each other, and for other needs. You can pray over the phone. Shoot and e-mail or text as a reminder that you are praying for the others, and plan regularly to get together and pray. More details will follow about getting started.
Worship Events– So often in our prayer life, we emphasize asking God for things. A few times through the year we will gather to express praise in song, in prayer, and rejoicing.
Family Prayer Resources to move from saying grace at the table to deeper conversations with the Lord about the joys and struggles in the lives of your children.
Wednesday Prayer Meeting is a night of intercession. Many of you have never been, and you don’t know that there are people committed to praying for you when you express a need. I’d like to see our attendance on Wednesdays consistently higher.
Healing Services We will gather together a few times this year for the purpose of imploring God to bring healing to situations that are out of our control. This is in addition to the prayer gatherings that occur when people call for the elders to come and pray with them.
Prayer Walks During the spring and summer our property will be a place for you to come and pray, with stations set up for reflection, scripture, and confession. We will periodically have corporate prayer walks in various locations for the purpose of intercession for others.
Praying the Prayers of Others Most of us in the evangelical church think that if you aren’t making up a prayer right on the spot, that you aren’t really praying…sadly, that removes from us the influence of so many greats of the faith who have captured the longings of all of our hearts in word. Psalms are ok, and worship songs are ok, but spoken prayers wig us out. I want us to learn from, and be challenged to pray more deeply by historic prayers.
Journaling your prayers This is an awesome, but difficult discipline. The payoff is to be able to read back over your prayers and God’s answers, as well as seeing the development of your own relationship with God.
Fasting-We will do a bit of teaching on the relationship between fasting and praying and how to use this spiritual discipline to draw you into a thoughtful and intentional life of prayer.
Prayer Bookmarks Unlike the Scripture bookmarks which you checked-off daily, the prayer bookmark is a fold-out paper that gives you the opportunity to write things to pray for each day of the week, so that your prayer life has a weekly cycle. This expands the range of your prayer life and keeps it fresh daily.
The bottom line is that we want to know God better, trust Him more, and see Him at work in 2011.
I have been amazingly blessed by this year’s focus on prayer. I have watched a number of Triads that formed in January continue through these three months, with people checking in with one another after church for prayer updates. I have had the privilege to hear about the growth in friendships between a few people as a result. If you were involved in a triad for January and February, consider keeping that relationship up, or partnering with a few others for the next few months. We will make a push to form new Triads in June for the summer. The bottom line is not to create a program…but that we would be faithful in prayer.
The prayer services of March have also been a tremendous encouragement. I was blown away by the response on our first Sunday evening, the Communion Supper. There were a good number of children who did a great job participating and sharing prayer requests. I love to see families participating together because parents have the opportunity to give spiritual instruction about the work of Jesus on the cross. I had asked Peter Talbot to lead the table of teens and he commented afterward about the depth and honesty he heard among the prayer requests. Others commented in appreciation for the connection of “the body of Christ given for you” with their specific needs.
The Service of Prayer for Healing was an emotionally tough night. It is true from Colossians 4:12 that prayer is hard work. The verb translated “wrestling” is AGONIZOMAI, from which we get the English word, agonize. About ten people came up for prayer, and another sent in a request by note. While we wait for God to work in some of the situations, God has richly answered in others. Steve and Nicole Quintana brought Logan before the group because he had failed two hearing tests and a few doctors were convinced that he was very hearing impaired. The elders gathered around this family and asked the Lord to intervene. Steve Rise prayed that he felt the Lord saying that “This hearing loss is only temporary.” After two more doctor visits, the first of which confirmed the previous doctors, another specialist announced, “This hearing loss is only temporary, due to a fluid build-up.” Praise the Lord. We will have another service like this in a few months, as others express needs.
The Membership Business Meeting was well attended and though the majority of the time was spent discussing business, there were times of prayer for our Boards, Committees, Ministries, and Staff. I was personally encouraged to hear the deep and thoughtful prayers and statements of thanksgiving for these various ministry teams. I could tell that many in our congregation pray for our leadership already.
As I write, Pastor Sam and Lynn are working through the song selection for the fourth night of prayer. I am eager to spend the time in worship and prayer, hearing from others, and hearing from the Lord.
What’s in store for Prayer in April? Creating a more-than-daily habit of prayer for God’s protection, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in specific situations. For me, it will be a “Door Knob Prayer” before going into my house. A simple prayer, “Lord, Let me lead my home with Your Wisdom and Grace.” On April 3rd, we will pass out a few ideas, and talk about them in church, and commit to a specific action for the month. The idea is not to create a ritual, but a consistent call to faithfulness in prayer in our lives.