Pastor’s Report on Year of Prayer - June 2019

Pastor’s Report on Year of Prayer
Psalm 141:2 – May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
Romans 12:12 – Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
As many of you know I am a big fan of American Football. I was watching a documentary charting the career of Aeneas Williams. He was a defensive back who played in the 90’s and early 00’s. He was also a Christian and became a pastor after his NFL career. During his Hall of Fame Induction service he came onto the stage and started by saying:
‘Begin with the end in mind and die empty’.
Those words struck me right between the eyes. These are profound words. As followers of Jesus we are given a clue about the end! We know what is asked of us and we know what it leads to in life and we know that we are guaranteed eternal life with God. We also know that we can’t take anything with us when we die – so why would we not give everything to the cause of the Kingdom. I don’t want to meet Jesus and say I held back something from you. We need to be Christians who give it all away to God.
How’s this link to prayer? If we want to make sure we ‘die empty’ then one of the areas of discipleship we need to invest in is prayer! Whether that is us individually trying to get better at prayer or corporately trying to make sure that a key value of our community is prayer. Wouldn’t it be great to get to the end of our time and say we grew in prayer, loved praying to God, and maximised our prayer lives! This isn’t about making people feel guilty because we’re asking them to pray. This is about giving this church the opportunity to become a community of vibrant prayer.
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So the Year of Prayer began with some observations about the
importance of prayer and also some honest reflections about how prayer
is thought of at St A’s and an agreed decision by the church to increase
the priority of prayer within our community of faith. If this is to occur
there needs to be a cultural shift within the church. In order to change
culture we need to be able to observe what is currently there and
understand what we should be seeing instead. That observation on
prayer meant we identified that we aren’t praying enough but that prayer
individually and corporately should increase in the life of St A’s.
Cultural change also needs interpretation. What does it mean that prayer
isn’t a priority at St A’s and why is that happening? What should prayer
mean for St A’s? Actually, we have been doing the observation and
interpretation parts of cultural change really well.
Cultural change also needs application. In reading our culture we ask
what difference does praying make for us. And in reshaping our culture
we ask the question what difference should praying make for us. Again I
think we are loosely getting to grips with application and I positively
believe that we are beginning to see a culture change around pray within
our congregation. That is a encouraging aspect.
So let me finish by giving feedback on 4 areas very briefly:
The Purpose of Prayer at St A’s starts with simply enjoying the privilege of
connecting with the Father because the Son opens the way and doing so
with the Spirit within us. Prayer has to be the foundation of we do at St
A’s and not the tag on to what we’ve already decided. Prayer becomes
the power base of all our vision, mission, and plans as we connect with
the God who loves in freedom and who desire intimate relationship with
His church.
Pete Greig writes in his book Dirty Glory: “we are qualified for Christian
service by our praying not our preaching, by our desire to worship him
and not our workload on his behalf, by knowing Jesus personally and not
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just by knowing a lot of interesting things about him. If you lose God’s
presence you lose everything, but if you know his presence you already
have everything you will ever need.”
So praying is foundational for all that we do as Christians.
Highlights so far this year when it comes to prayer.
• So even though we haven’t kept to the Year of Prayer Plan – we
were never meant to. It was a guide to get us going and back up to
keep us going.
• There’s a little team of St A’s folks who are keeping progress going
and are full of good ideas.
• Different people have been incredible in initiating ideas and taking
personal responsibility to create opportunities for prayer and
encouraging others.
• The overall church response has been positive
• The 24 Hours of prayer was something people committed to and
certainly has been key for some in their discipleship journey this
year.
• There has been an intercessory group established on Tuesday and
that was initiated by someone independently – I love stuff like that!
• A small group of people are praying through the church on
Thursdays – again completely done independently – wow!
• Chris Thomason has organised for us three prayer workshops to
help us skill-up in prayer. What an exciting opportunity for us as a
church.
• Us trying to join in with Thy Kingdom Come in any way we can –
hopefully this year will be the start of something we can increasingly
do well year in and year out.
• The sermon series we had at the start of the year and hearing about
the home groups who have studied about prayer and tried to apply
more prayer to their lives.
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Hopes
• That the cultural shift about prayer continues to happen in our
church to the point where can say it’s a core value and evidence
that by what we do.
• There are still those who seem fearful, reluctant and unsure how to
engage – it would be great to see those folks enter into the Spirit of
things.
• It would be wonderful to see more take up the offer of prayer
ministry after our morning gatherings but there have been some
encouraging signs there.
• That our corporate prayer events continue to increase in terms of
participation and effectiveness.
Prayer Points
• For a move of God within our church with prayer at the very heart of
it.
• For those on the fringes to grasp hold of the importance and
necessity of prayer.
• That we don’t lose momentum.
• For the raising up of prayer warriors who can lead and disciple the
rest of us in prayer.
• For vulnerability and openness to increase in a safe way so we can
share our testimony’s of prayer.
• For the corporate events to be foundational moments in the life of
the church and in the stories of those who attend.