Friday Thoughts: We Need to Pray Together
Luke writes, concerning the priorities of the first-century church:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42 ESV)
Of all the things the early church could have been doing they devoted themselves to four things primarily. The teaching of God's word, fellowship with Christ and one another, the Lord's Supper (breaking of the bread/communion), and...prayer. While the teaching of the word of God was taking place routinely, fellowship and hospitality continued, and the observance of the Lord's supper was prioritized, the Apostles led this growing group of Christ followers in dependency on God through dependent supplication and intercessory prayer.
Prior to coming to SGC I was certain that if the Lord led me to be the pastor of this dear church I would shepherd from a place of this kind of dependence on God, primarily evidenced through a personal and corporate emphasis on prayer. All in all to recognize that "I need Thee (God)" and "We need Thee" - every hour...every moment. I desired (and continue to desire) to be part of (and lead) a church where we devote ourselves to the teaching of the word of God and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
For the last number of months I've had a number of people ask how they could be praying for my family and for our church. I've told them that concerning our church they could pray for wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. Well, as I have been praying and seeking what the Lord would have for us as a church through the preaching "diet" and discipling of the saints (children's ministry, youth ministry, membership, baptism, leadership, community groups, etc...) I have increasingly been aware that prayer needs to come to the forefront of who we are as a church family and what we do as a church family. Prayer, of course, is "part" of all we do individually and corporately. We pray throughout the week for one another, we pray on Sundays, we pray at community group, etc.... However, I have a strong conviction that corporate prayer needs to become more prevalent at SGC.
Let me explain to you how I, along with the Transition Team, see this happening as we move forward together.
Beginning on Wednesday evening, June 11 we will, every Wednesday evening from 7:00-8:00pm throughout the summer (at least), gather to pray as an entire church. Little ones ages 4 and younger will be looked after in the children's ministry classroom with approved workers while children 5+ will join the rest of us in prayer. We will meet to sing a song, be exhorted with a brief meditation where I will strive to direct our prayer time, and then prayer together.
- We will ask, seek, and knock TOGETHER with anticipation of God hearing and responding (Luke 11:1–13).
- We will pursue TOGETHER the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), and the manifestation of his gifts among us for the common good (Rom 15:13; 1 Cor. 12:4-11).
- We will pray TOGETHER for gospel success in Bellbrook and each "circle of influence" that each of us have in the greater Dayton area among our families, neighbors, friends, and co-workers (Matthew 5:14-16; 28:18-20).
- We will pray TOGETHER for unity and purity and healing and joy and satisfaction in Christ and endurance and patience and parenting and marriages and schooling and a variety of other needs (Rom 5:3–4; 15:4–5; 2 Cor 6:4; Eph. 4:1-6; Col 1:11; Heb 10:36; 12:1; Phil 1:10; 4:8; 1 Tim 1:5; 5:22; 2 Tim 2:22; Titus 1:15; 2:5; etc...).
- We will pray TOGETHER that we would "...be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:9-10; Col. 3:16).
- We will pray TOGETHER that we would "...be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father..." (Rom 15:13; Col. 1:11-12).
“Oh! yes, (the prayer meeting) is the place to meet with the Holy Ghost, and this is the way to get His mighty power. If we would have Him, we must meet in greater numbers; we must pray with greater fervency, we must watch with greater earnestness, and believe with firmer steadfastness. The prayer meeting…is the appointed place for the reception of power.”
** The plan, then, is that for the summer months we are going to cease the bi-weekly meetings of our three community groups. Now, I know that this may be difficult for many - and that's a good thing - I love that we are a church who longs to be together. But let me explain two key reasons behind doing so:
- We want a special, sustained focus weekly on corporate prayer. We want this to be something that each of us make a priority if at all possible and DEVOTE our attention to this without making the church calendar more full.
- I want to devote some time with those who are current community group leaders so I can work with them on our purposes behind community groups and more equipping for when we restart community groups.
- I want to take time this summer, as well, to the development of other potential leaders (as we already need more than what we currently have).
So we'll pray as one big community group. Events have been and will be planned this summer where we will enjoy meals together and have fun with one another. And I want to encourage each of us to invite people into our homes or on double dates or walks in the park or picnics or whatever and read the word together, discuss Sunday's sermon together, and pray with one another.
Finally, let me just say...I'M EXCITED!!! I'm filled with anticipation of how God is going to move among us and through us for his glory and our joy. We want to be a church that grows by the primary means of new converts and that only happens by way of concerted prayer and the proclamation of the gospel through the enablement of the Holy Spirit. Think Acts. The church prayed, the Holy Spirit filled, people were saved, churches were formed, and the gospel spread all the way to Bellbrook, OH! Oh that we would experience the same kind of movement of the Spirit among us.
So dear loved ones - will you join with me on these Wednesday nights through the summer? Again, we will begin promptly at 7pm on Wednesday, June 11 at the church building in Bellbrook. And listen, expect hindrances in your schedule and emotions and family unity and desire (or lack of) - the enemy of our souls does NOT want us to do this. So be ready for opposition. Commit now to come, "devote" yourself to this. Not every week will work, of course, but please make every effort to come if you're in town. Mark Wednesday nights on your calendar this summer as "busy." And as we meet humbly before the Lord together he WILL pour out his grace among us, fill us with his Spirit and build is in unity, love, purpose, and mission together.
The hymnwriter wrote these words:
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
Oh how we need Christ Jesus. We need him every hour. Can't wait to spend these hours in expectant prayer with you all.
If you have any questions about this please feel free, as always, to contact me at the church office.
With great excitement and gratefulness,
The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer. - C.H. Spurgeon