I want just to share a few sentences of encouragement with you as we look forward to our church-wide prayer meeting on Sunday evening, July 10. Mark Moser and I have agreed that it is very important for us as a church to refresh our commitment to dependent, corporate prayer, and toward that end have planned to schedule these prayer gatherings four times a year. At this time that is a fairly unambitious goal–but the greater, more ambitious goal is that we are seeking to rebuild into our church culture a deep understanding that our mission depends on the Lord’s blessing, and he is pleased to give that blessing as we ask for it.
My hope and prayer is that we will own this understanding widely. That means, I hope many of us–not just the familiar few–will participate in these gatherings for prayer. You may not feel comfortable praying aloud–but even so, I’d encourage you to come and listen as others lead in prayer, and lean into their prayers with your agreement. We are scheduling these prayer meetings for Sunday evenings, knowing that several community groups meet on Sundays, and hoping that those groups will plan to come together for prayer.
There are many things we hope will happen here: we hope that children and teenagers will hear the gospel and believe it, that the Spirit of God will rest upon them and raise them up to lead his church in the next generation. We hope that families will be repaired and strengthened. We hope that the gospel will be preached with power and that God will use it to change lives. We hope that he will give us many open doors for service in the community, for conversation and friendship and hospitality, and that by these means the gospel will run and reach many. We hope that our community and our nation will flourish. And we hope that in many places around the world God’s kingdom will grow and communities will be transformed.
We hope. But the point is, God calls us to more than hope for these things. He calls us to seek them, to stir ourselves to ask him to bring them about. He calls us to work–but he calls us first and always to ask the Holy Spirit to bless our work and to make it fruitful. We cannot be presumptuous that there will be blessing without our seeking that blessing.
Consider Isaiah 62:6-7: You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. Jerusalem, the city of God, the seat of the kingdom. And though God loves the physical city, even more in our day I think this is a verse about the church, the community of his people. Christ promised, I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. But he calls us now to hold him to the promise–”Lord, even as you said, won’t you do it here and in our day?”
I preached on this topic on May 22; that sermon is available here and may be worth listening to again. Hope to see many of you on July 10.