OK, onto some less controversial waters. If you haven’t already, check out the comment thread in the previous post. I want you all to see the way some of us are processing this. Great points were made, and I learned more about political terms 😉
It is Olympics time. Many of us are trying to catch as many of the events as possible. Rebecca and I are having a hard time not being jealous of the Americans that get to be over there in London. We. Love. England! We are die-hard Anglophiles. Back to the point. If I were an Olympic sprinter, I would have two complementary habits. I would pray before a race, then once the gun went off I would run as hard as I could. That, in a nutshell, is a disciple of Jesus, called to mission. We pray to an all powerful God who must do His work or everything is in vain. But, we must then act in accordance with his Word with boldness. Prayer and boldness are not contradictory. Prayer fuels boldness. We pray and also we are bold to act. God must work. But, our work must happen as a sign we have truly connected to God. This is Philippians 2.12-13, isn’t it?
I loved and was very challenged by how much Mavuno prays. You may have thought that they are an action church, a go get em church, take no gospel prisoners church…and they are. But, all of that assumes the power of God which they feel grounded in because of their committed and passionate prayer life as a church. One of their most influential leaders gets up at 3 AM every morning, to pray and ponder. Yes, you read that right – 3AM. That ain’t gonna happen with me, I’ll tell you right now. But, I was convicted. I can certainly get up an hour earlier. Mavuno moves in prayer. God uses our prayers. We don’t manipulate God. The interchange in prayer is real, truly relational, and how it works is not fully apparent to us – but I do know this — God has always blessed the life and work of prayer warriors. Commitment to prayer and the actual habit of prayer are life savers for people and movement churches in a few respects.
1. Even when churches pray for things, or because of things, that are not always correct or even for God’s glory, by being in prayer constantly, God sanctifies those motives and those plans. By being in prayer, we get convicted when we want something for selfish reasons, or the direction of our desires is shifted toward God’s plan. Often, prayer is simply God getting us close to him, in dependence, love, and wonder, and then he shapes us by that prayer life. Mavuno does not always get what they initially pray for. Sometimes their motives might come under conviction. But, by being prayerful, all of that gets worked out, sanctified, and shaped towards God’s perfect design and the for His glory.
2. Prayerful churches are missionary churches. When churches become self centered and lose their commitment to making disciples of all peoples, you can always see the drop in prayer life. Praying people are brought close to God’s heart, and therefore to God’s mission. This is true for groups of people. If we want to grow as a missionary church, we have to be prayerful. If we are prayerful, we will desire and also act to make disciples, locally and globally.
3. Theology and prayer must go together. Theology and doctrine will ruin you without worship. I love theology. This is going to be a thoughtful church with a thoughtful approach. But, if we do not have theology turn into doxology at the drop of a hat, if we do not pray our theology and have our theology make us pray, then the flame of the gospel will die here. Let us pray so that our minds will be fully liberated to know God, not as an abstract truth, but as the all glorious and infinite God of Holiness and Beauty who loves us with infinite love.
E.M. Bounds, a Civil War chaplain and writer of great works on prayer and ministry, reportedly once said to some troops: pray and keep your gun powder dry. In other words, pray and know that God is the prime mover, but then also be responsible and act!
As a church, let us be prayerful for our place in God’s mission and then let us allow the Spirit of God to motivate us to act in boldness for that mission.