June 26, 2017

Healthy Churches: Prayer in All Things

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A Note from Luminex: This morning’s blog post is the fifth in a 10-week series on “Healthy Churches.” Each week, one of our stable of leaders/bloggers will share thoughts on a significant aspect of healthy churches. Enjoy!

Once upon a time I had a Nissan Sentra, which had the nasty habit in the winter of getting stuck in the snow drifts that would collect in front of the farm house that we rented on the edge of the Michigan tundra.  On one occasion, having become seriously stuck, I refused to call the motor club.  I tried kitty litter, shoveling, pushing, rocking, and all the usual efforts that I had learned growing up in Michigan.  I refused to call the motor club and my refusal was heightened by my growing anxiety and frustration.  The motor club was paid for, the 800 number was on a sticker on the dashboard, the process was clear … but I wanted a shortcut, I wanted results now!  When I finally gave up, out of exhaustion and bone chilling cold, I called.  Within an hour the tow truck arrived, within 5 minutes the cable attached to the powerful winch was hooked to my car, and within 10 minutes I was free to go.

Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”  Psalm 118:8-9 adds, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man, It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”

Prayer is often the last resort when we confront difficulties or have to make decisions in the church.  We all too often put our trust in our technology, our systems, our plans, our “know how,” our tradition, and our experience.  Trust in the Lord, expressed in prayer, is often on the bottom of our list.

Healthy churches are prayer-permeated churches!  They not only begin and end meetings with prayer, but they seek the Lord in prayer in all things.  Here are some ways that you can integrate prayer at every level, and in all your dealings as a church.

  1. Make all of your teams prayer teams.  Building in times for prayer and reflection in all the meetings of your ministry teams – from staff meetings to meetings of the lawn care volunteers – is one powerful way to permeate your church with prayer.  Creating a training for team leaders and a uniform template for all team meetings that includes planning a prayer strategy can be helpful.
  2. Journal together as a church.  In one church the entire congregation reads through the same bible reading plan and journaling strategy together.  At meetings, rather than having someone prepare a “devotional,” they ask people to open their prayer journals and share what God has been teaching them, and some of the prayers that they have recorded.  You can learn more about this at www.lifejournal.cc
  3. Consider a period of solitude and reflection before making major decisions at a meeting.  Perhaps a brief discussion of the decision at hand, followed by 10 or 15 minutes of quiet reflection alone, 5 to 10 minutes of discussion in dyads or triads, and then a final decision-making process would give time and space to prayerfully reflect on how God is leading.  If this seems cumbersome and time consuming, consider the time spent in meetings and conversations around bad decisions.  My kitty litter under the tires solution actually took far more time than a call to someone who had the power to help.  

Healthy churches are prayer-permeated.  They are not … “anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, they present their requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guards their hearts and their minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (paraphrased).

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