December 14, 2016

Fostering Kingdom-Oriented Prayer in the Congregation

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To kick off our second season of Whiteboard Wednesday, we have Jon Sherrill, who serves as the lead pastor at Fifth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, discussing kingdom-focused prayer and how to foster it in your church.

Kingdom-focused prayer has taken a greater priority for Jon and his community recently. Through collaboration with other churches to plant a new church in downtown Grand Rapids, the lead pastors of the surrounding churches got together and talked about the need for kingdom-focused prayer in their churches to help prepare for the upcoming church plant.

But first, we should ask ourselves, why do we use “kingdom-focused” prayer?

And how can you foster kingdom-focused prayer in your congregation?

To discuss the why, let’s rewind to what Jesus taught us about prayer, when his disciples asked him to teach them to pray. He said when you pray, pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is something of a pattern for us in our praying.

“Our Father in heaven.” We begin by remembering who God is – our Father, our Abba – Daddy. Jesus invites us as we begin praying to the Father to remember who we are in Christ.

“Hallowed be your name.” In the name of Jesus to be worshipped by everyone, everywhere, which gives us our identity. The glory goes to God alone.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Kingdom-focused prayer is vital because Jesus taught us that the kingdom is the first thing we pray for after we remember our identity in Christ. Our prayer is that the name of Jesus will be known around the world. We engage in kingdom-focused prayer because Jesus said to do so!

Regarding practical suggestions for your congregation, Jon was challenged in this collaboration of churches seeking to plant a church in Grand Rapids to think of ways to foster this in his congregation.

New Ground Community Church pastor Brent Manson introduced Jon to the idea of the “prayer jar.” Essentially, the idea is to encourage kingdom-focused prayer. First, his ministry got a jar and placed it in front of the church. Then, they gave little pieces of paper to everyone in the congregation. They invited the congregation to write down the names of people in their lives who they believe do not yet know Christ. This represented the first step in engaging in kingdom-focused prayer.

Later in the service, Jon had people come forward and drop all of the names into the jar. For the next few services, they kept the jar visibly present in front of the congregation to encourage kingdom-focused prayer. The purpose was to pray for all of the names in the jar, and it became a part of their pastoral prayer on Sunday mornings. People put more names in as other people came into their mind.

Prior to a recent consistory meeting, the papers were removed the jar, with all of the names spread on a table. Consistory members arrived and had their meeting, but toward the end, each leader directed their attention to the table, to the names of people who likely do not yet know Christ. The leaders were urged to regularly pray for these individuals. Ultimately, kingdom-focused prayer has led to profound impact in the leadership of Fifth Reformed church.

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