Like I said in my last post , God is taking me on an adventure in prayer. I have to confess up front, that I am the reluctant one in this partnership, but God is gently, lovingly, and patiently helping me taking me through this process as He leads me.
A lot of the material that I will present is stuff from our Sunday PM Bible study @ Crosspointe, but I think it will be helpful. Ultimately, I want you to see that prayer is an amazing thing and God is waiting to pour out great things into your life, your congregation, and your city, but you’ve got to be bold enough to ask.
I think in my faith tradition, the churches of Christ, prayer has become so non-existent, but I believe all that’s about to change.
“Prayer Meetings,” as we so often refer to them are probably the LEAST attended function of most congregations. It was in our congregation and there’s plenty of research that confirms that. So I began to ask why? Well, the most common responses I got were one of three things: 1) Prayer is Boring. 2) I’m indifferent on prayer. 3) I don’t know how, therefore, I don’t like it. When I asked members at Crosspointe those were the most common things, therefore, it shows us some critical things to help correct. I began to wonder how to do this, and God led me to a Scripture in Jeremiah where He says this:
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV)
I think that a fresh view of prayer is in order to rekindle our prayer lives both individually and congregationally, and this passage shows us exactly what we need to do that. Jeremiah gives us three critical views of prayer here that will rock your life to the core. Let’s break it down
1) Prayer is a Divine Invitation – “Call to me…”
I don’t know if you know this, but God wants you to pray. In OT language the phrase, “call to me,” is exactly that. When’s the last time you realized that God is inviting you into His presence? That your Daddy desires to hear from you? I mean, how incredible that the Great I AM tells you, invites you, extends the golden scepter to you to speak to Him!
Your Father wants to hear from you! Go! Talk to Him!
2) Prayer is a Divine Promise – “Call to me and I will answer you…”
This plays off the invitation, but its incredible here – not only does God invite us to talk to Him – wait for it – He PROMISES that He’ll answer! Now, this isn’t a free pass to ask God for a Mercedes or to smite that negative person at church, but this means that no matter WHAT you ask, God promises to answer. I’m not a scholar by any stretch of the word, but I do know that when God makes a promise in Scripture, He honors it. The biggest help for me in this area is learning to be specific. I used to pray, “God, grow this church if it be your will.”I look back and want to slap myself because OF COURSE it’s God’s will for His church to grow! He died to create, save, and restore it! So now, I get specific. I pray for the people working in AK Steel, that God would draw them to Him through our members who work there. I pray for the prostitutes down on Central Avenue that God would show them their worth is in more that their bodies – that they are worth more than all the drugs and money in the world. I pray that God would expose the heroin dealers that are killing our families and children at a rate of one every five hours. I walk to the sidewalk in front of my neighbor’s home and pray for their marriage and the opportunity to share Jesus.
And you know what…God has done some amazing things in that area…but that really leads us to the final point:
3) Prayer is a Divine Adventure – “…and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
This is the cool part. God wants to tell you things you don’t know, things you could never know without Him. In my heart, I truly believe this: when you pray bold and faith-filled prayers, God will give you stories. God is the master storyteller, and your life is part of His story, so it’s only natural that when you hang out w/ Him, you’re going to get some incredible stories!
You’ll begin to see His amazing provision; you’ll hear His Holy Spirit guiding your heart, and you’ll be brought face-to-face with opportunities to be His witness that you’d never thought possible. For example, look at Acts 12. Peter is in jail, he’s chained to two guards. The church gathers in a home a few blocks away and has a prayer meeting. While there praying, Peter has what he thinks is a vision at first, but is literally led out of the prison by an angel. He gets to the prayer meeting, knocks on the door, a young woman answers. She sees its Peter, she runs in and gets rebuked. “Pipe down – we’re praying for Peter to get out of jail,” “But he’s at the door,” “Quiet! We’re praying.” Then the woman lets Peter in and it blows the room away.
God answered the prayer before they finished praying it!
We tend to not believe stuff like that here in the civilized first world. We have our logic and reasoning as to why it can’t happen, or if it does, we’ve got a great a hellish concoction of theological science to debunk it. Maybe we don’t see the things we read in the Bible because we don’t believe our God is big enough to still do them (He still does, btw). Could it be that we concoct arguments like, “Well that all went away when the last Apostle died…God doesn’t do that anymore.” Could we be bigger theological snobs? Could we put Jehovah in a smaller box? I mean really? Is it any wonder that our faiths are shallow and dwindling because we don’t believe that God can do these things? Is it any wonder that our evangelism is so anemic and lame?
Is it any wonder our churches are shrinking? Why? Because we don’t ask the God of the Universe to give us stories! To give us workers! To send us the people who need Him!
I’m seeing in my life, in my neck of the woods that I had such a sour view of prayer. For me it was closed-door offices around a table with a bunch of older men who prayed about the “Whose Who in Butler County Hospitals,” and I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for those people. However, it made it very unappealing to me. So when we started this journey as a congregation, our Sunday night prayer meetings have steadily increased because we now see prayer not as an obligation, but an opportunity to partner with God to change this world. I could go on for days about the way our prayers have changed at Crosspointe and how lives are changing, and in turn the crazy amazing things God is doing in our congregation!
But really, I just want you to see that God is inviting you to Him, He promises to answer you, and He wants to give you stories that point to Him! If you’re struggling to pray, go somewhere quiet, turn off the phone, and say this simple prayer:
“Lord, teach me to pray.”
More next time.