Category: prayer


This week, I am excited to be helping my friends over at Micah Challenge South Africa . They are part of a global coalition of Christians holding governments accountable for the Millennium Development Goals to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Each year there is a focus on a specific area and this year’s campaign – Exposed2013 – is about shining a light on corruption. This is a huge problem in our world. But we can do something about it and this campaign gives us ways to be involved in making a difference. Go to the MCSA facebook page for lots more info and opportunities.

I am excited to be running the Shine a Light blog for Micah Challenge South Africa, as well as writing and tweeting on their behalf @Exposed2013SA. I encourage you to follow both of those right now (as well as liking the fb page).

How often have you sought the Lord’s will with others?
While many of us have ways we seek God’s guidance in our personal lives, we have little experience doing this with others. I believe this is partially because most of us have grown up in churches where the emphasis is on our personal/individual relationship with Jesus. What is God saying to me? I am not really part of an US that needs to hear from God for US. I find this to be a huge lost opportunity to be the people of God as described in the Bible.
This is particularly unfortunate in cultural contexts with a strong sense of community (like South Africa where I live). Here, the paradigm by which people live – consciously or not – is that I am born into a people. Therefore, when Christianity is understood to be a personal relationship only, it is actually a foreign/western/northern/white concept. How tragic that we are not allowing the communal nature of Christianity to build on our existing understanding of life in a supernatural way. We all long to be part of something/someone – how can we possibly miss the opportunity to share this part of the Good News?
Another reason we struggle to seek God together is that many have never been part of church where the concept of the priesthood of all believers is taken seriously enough to enable (require?) active participation using one’s gifts and discernment as part of the larger congregation. I am not suggesting that we must all take part in every decision or discussion per se. And I recognize that we can all use our gifts and play our unique parts in the body. But what I am saying is that we sometimes use “we all play different roles” as an excuse for either un-Biblical passivity on the one hand or un-Christlike control on the other. IF we believe God speaks through us collectively, how are we actually attempting to hear and discern together?
Finally, in many cases we tragically separate worship/connecting with God from decision-making. When it comes time for business, we put the Bibles away. Now of course we pray to start and may even pull in some Bible verses. But too often we aren’t really even attempting to seek the mind of Christ together. We don’t expect to agree. We fight for our way. We talk to people outside the meeting to get them on our side. We don’t trust God to speak or one another to hear. And until we at least give it a go, we never will.

Do you believe you can hear/understand God? If so, how comfortable are you hearing with others what God is saying to you collectively? My experience is that many who feel they can discern God’s will really struggle to do that with others. I suppose part of the reason for this is that most of us are programmed to be individuals first and part of a community second (if at all). Also, many of us have been saturated in theologies and experiences which say that God has chosen someone else to hear on our behalf.

At The Warehouse, we’ve been looking at the way(s) we understand and practice corporate discernment. In other words, how does God speak to US? Here is our working set of principles. What do you think?

  • God speaks and we can hear. Discerning is making sense of what God is saying to us.
  • God has given his Spirit to all believers to enable us to serve as priests. We discern as a body using our many gifts together.
  • Corporate discernment is spiritual. We are seeking the mind of Christ together. Therefore, sin, unforgiveness, and the enemy can oppose this process.
  • There are a number of ways we hear God’s voice and know what is true that we weigh together when discerning. We must always test what we are saying and hearing.
  • Revelation, Interpretation, and Application all require and are part of discernment
  • In corporate discernment, we are seeking what God is saying to us together. We expect there to be a variety of applications, including personal. We distinguish between what God is saying to and for the individual from what is for all of us together.
  • We believe agreement is necessary in corporate discernment for carrying spiritual authority and requires we all take individual responsibility for carrying what is discerned.
  • We trust God speaking through all involved, particularly the God-guided voice of dissent
  • At times, we choose to delegate authority to individuals, teams, groups, etc. to discern on our behalf.

What is your understanding, experience, and hope for hearing God with others?

I am just about to send an email asking people to pray specifically about the planting of a new church here in Cape Town. Having been involved in beginning some different faith communities and pretty much thinking about this all the time, one of the things I am quite sure of is that prayer is THE essential piece of any and every type of new church. Period.

Want people to experience God’s love in new ways? Pray. Want to grow in being a disciple of Jesus? Pray. Want to see God’s Kingdom come and people be healed? Pray. Pray, listen, do what God says. That is my suggestion for starting a church.

I can’t stand to see another church squeeze every last cent from its members to buy a new piece of land or add yet another mega-meeting hall. I don’t want to see the same old cookie cutter vision/mission/strategy statement anymore. I won’t even read that strategic marketing that is meant to be innovative in drawing someone to church. Not because buildings, visions, or advertisements are bad per se. Rather, THEY ARE TOO OFTEN DONE IN PLACE OF PRAYER.

Prayer allows God to work in the ways God knows best. God, the creator of the universe. The one who loved each and every one of us. That God. I know we all believe Jesus is the head of his Church. But are we letting him run things? Or just using his name for what WE want? Seems to me that the way to keep him in charge is through prayer.

Prayer before you make decisions
Prayer before you gather to worship
Prayer when there is someone in need
Prayer when making plans

Not “bless us as we do what we want.” Rather, prayer that puts our hearts out there and asks God for His. Dangerous prayer that just might mean changing directions or doing difficult things in response. Prayer that requires God to actually be God for it to work. Prayer that asks big. That’s the kind of prayer I want my church to be about.

If your church isn’t praying enough, add some more. One prayer gathering, regardless of size or frequency, is spiritually significant. Putting yourself into God’s hands together will do what nothing else can in making into the church God wants you to be. And if you are starting a church, start with prayer. Let God have His way from the get-go and keep listening all the time. God loves the Church and wants to see us live out our destiny.

If God is birthing a new church here in Cape Town, may it come from prayer. I pray that regardless of where it leads.

 

What role have you seen prayer play (or not) in churches you have been involved with? What is God stirring in your heart around prayer?

Would love to hear from you!