Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “True prayer is measured by weight, not by length.” What a profound statement and how applicable this is to our present opportunity to gather with brothers and sisters from all over the city and pray for God’s will to be done.
Friends, this is of great value. We have the opportunity to gather with the body of Christ and pray to the living God, for our city. We are able to assemble, outside, in a public place, to worship our King without fear of persecution. There are many around the globe that are not as fortunate to have that freedom this side of eternity. We also can rejoice with confidence as we pray prayers of intercession and know that because of the work of our mediator, Jesus Christ, Creator God will hear them and answer according to his will.
As I think about this opportunity on March 11th, I see so much to celebrate and value. But, I also do not want to just attend another “event”. As a Lynchburg native, my heart has been heavy for our city for many years. I have seen and participated in my share of events hosted by churches and other well-meaning organizations. We have gathered, we have prayed, we have sung, we have wept, we have cried out to God and then we leave. The days after are typically dotted with thoughts of the event and prayers here and there but it slowly fades away and the thing I most remember is the “event” with a failed directive of what and how to continue to pray.
So, I direct your attention back to the quote by Spurgeon. And will offer a few “weighty” requests for our church to continue to pray after the event. I think these are specific requests for our church to reflect and focus on during this particular season of our life as a church. I would encourage you all to write these down and offer them daily to the Lord. We will be organizing a neighborhood prayer walk in the upcoming months and I am confident that God will use our church to reach our community and these prayers will help our hearts to align with God’s will during this season.
Here are my three “weighty” prayers for our church.
1. Pray for relationships to develop between our church and our neighborhood.
Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if our Sunday morning gatherings reflected the neighborhood we were in? What if our church became a diverse group of believers from all colors, backgrounds, cultures, and experiences? What if we learned how to “do life” with others that had none of the same social identifiers as us? What if….? The possibilities are endless but I truly believe that these types of relationships best represent the Kingdom of God.
2. Pray for the lost in our neighborhood, regardless of their offenses.
So, if we are all honest this gets tricky, right. It is easy to assume that someone is “too far gone.” As humans, we want justice and we want people to pay their debt to society when they have done wrong. We have a natural default in our way of thinking that says “they deserve what they are getting because of what they have done” or “If they would just make better decisions, things wouldn’t be so bad for them”. While those ideas may sometimes be accurate, we cannot let our assumption of peoples situations deter us from praying for their salvation. We cannot pick and choose who we will ask God to save based on their offenses to us or society. We also cannot pray from a distance, we must get involved and get to know the lives of those in the depths of darkness surrounded by sin. We all must remember that we did not save ourselves and that if it were not for God’s munificence towards us by sending his son into the darkness to bring light and offer salvation, we would not be any better off then those we sometimes look down on.
3. Pray that as we engage our neighborhood we remain humble.
We must not approach our neighborhood with the mindset of fixing it or making things better. We must approach with open ears and soft hearts. Too often the church has imposed it’s self-righteous views on the culture around them and left the ones they are aiming to reach feeling devalued, insignificant, and dependant. We must show our neighbors that the one they need is Jesus because we ALL need Jesus. We must be humble in our approach and take the time to listen to stories, needs, and ideas before imposing our own way as the right way. We must celebrate diversity in cultures without an underlying attempt to show people why our way is better than theirs. We must remember that we are inviting others to share their culture with us, not adapt to the way we do things. We must remember that a call to Christ is a conversion of heart, not culture. Yes, things change. Yes, old habits die and new ones are formed. Yes, there is one way and that is God’s way. But, we cannot attempt to make connections if we are not willing to be humble and acceptant of the culture we are asking to be a part of. Is this not what the early church in Acts modeled for us? They came together as one body with one purpose, to praise God and follow Jesus, regardless of background.
May we all seek to be a church that represents God’s kingdom and reflects His love for His people.