Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Five Prayers for Our Church to Pray in the New Year

*This post summarizes some concluding applications of an upcoming sermon or two at Trinity Presbyterian Church
  1. Pray for someone to evangelize with the Gospel.
  2. Pray for someone to disciple with the Word of God.
  3. Pray for someone to pour your hospitality into.
  4. Pray for someone to generously share your wealth with.
  5. Pray for someone to restore to the fellowship of Christ’s Church.
I believe God will answer these prayers because they conform to his will for our church and the people we should serve. I believe that if we pray these prayers, we will become alert to the opportunities that already exist all around us. If we are faithful and persistent with these prayers, I believe we will begin to identify specific people who are the answers to these prayers, maybe even the same people for more than one of these prayers.

Quality Answers

Because Christian love is not merely a drive-by kind of love, I would expect that the answer to these prayers could come for each of us in the form of just a very few specific people to evangelize, to disciple, to pour our hospitality into, to share our wealth with, or to bring back into the fold. The answers to these prayers will be more deep than broad, more quality than quantity, more focused than scattershot. This is because a little bit of ministry to a lot of people may not do as much to meet needs as a lot of ministry to only a very few. The focus of our prayers should therefore be more about the quality than quantity of opportunities.

Quantity Answers

But if all of us in our church are praying these prayers persistently, God himself will take care of the quantity. In West Virginia terms: each of us may become a bullet hitting a narrow target, but the church together will become the buckshot that hits a wide target. If all of us pray for deep answers to these prayers, the broad answers to these prayers will come through the sheer number of us involved in these various forms of ministry.

Specific Answers

When God answers these prayers, they will not be vague answers. They will be in the form of people with names--names we could share with each other, as discretion permits, so that we can join together in praying for one another and for the specific people God has led us to minister to in answer to our prayers.

Surprising Answers

Our prayers may be answered in ways that surprise us. The answers may not be that God miraculously introduces us to someone new and needy who was not there before (although God may very well do that). Rather, God may give us the awareness, will, and power to take advantage of the existing opportunities that previously slid past us. 
As we meet the needs of those around us, God will transform us into more mature, Christ-like people. So these prayers may be for the benefit of others, but they will also have a profound effect on our own Christian maturity.  Notice that you cannot pray these prayers without also praying for yourself in some form or fashion. And you cannot receive the answer to these prayers without your being directly involved in the answer. These are prayers for others, but they are also prayers for yourself. 

These prayers are also for the benefit of our Church, because through them God may grow our church in both quality and quantity. As God answers these prayers, our church will become a more Christ-like, kingdom-spreading congregation.

There are many other prayers that we should be praying, of course. But I challenge us to pray these specific prayers daily and to begin looking for specific answers. God may 
not only change the world around us, he may also transform each of us, and our church as well.

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