This is the third blog in a short series exploring what the elders believe God is saying to the church at the moment. A few days ago Steve wrote about faith for growth. Al then highlighted the opportunities to grow in faith as we engage with the Summer of Mission 2018. In this blog I want to highlight what we believe God is saying about prayer and how he is inviting us to respond!
God speaks through his Holy Spirit, through the gift of prophecy, to guide his church. Some months ago the elders reviewed the various prophetic words given over recent years and concluded that God has several times encouraged us about an upgrade in prayer.
All of us believe, of course, that prayer is a vital part of the life of each Christian and the church as a whole. But sometimes there is a gap between our aspirations and our reality! (As an activist, I am acutely aware of my own lack in prayer. (See my previous blog).
Prayer is God's invitation to step into our calling as sons and daughters of the King. In Spring 2017 we looked at "Open heaven changing lives" and learned how God both changes us as we pray and allows us to participate in his purposes in the earth.
The image of our prayers rising like incense to heaven, in Revelation 5 and 8 is a powerful reminder that our prayers matter to God! He loves the smell of our prayers and, in Rev 8, we see them affecting the course of human history. In Revelation 4, God invites the writer to "Come up higher and see what will take place." This echoes the invitation of God in the Old Testament: Amos says, "Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants" and Jeremiah says, "‘This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” "
We are invited into a 'higher' dynamic of prayer, in which we see something of God's purposes and are invited to play our part in making that so!
As we go into 2018, we are continuing our focus on 'Prayer for Growth', and will be starting the season with some Sundays looking at prayer together. Under the title "Teach us to pray" we will explore what it means to pray together, and with prophetic revelation, as well as learning about prayer from other cultures.
Every 2 months we will be running weeks of prayer, weeks in which we commit as a church community to grow in prayer as we respond to God's invitation to come up higher. The first of those starts on Sunday 7 January, and will meet together as a church to pray on Monday 8 January, 7.45pm, as well for an Encounter evening of unhurried prayer and worship on Friday 12. Communities will also meet, and we're encouraging them to grow in praying together.
So, what about you? What is your response to the invitation of the Lord-who-made-the-earth to 'come up higher' and allow your prayers to reshape you and to play our part in God's purposes?