Prioritising Prayer

By 7th July 2020 Church Life, Listed

by Dave McNee

Back in January this year, none of us would have come close to predicting the kind of shape that 2020 would take – and had anyone seen the little news there was of Covid-19 in China and other East-Asian nations at the time and made predictions of the country going into months of lockdown we would have dismissed them as ‘catastrophising’. It is worth remembering that there is only one person who was not surprised by the events that have taken place in 2020 – the God of the universe who spoke time and space into being[1], who appoints the time and the place that every human would live[2], and who sustains the entire created world by his power[3] was not shocked to see the developments of 2020. Given that this is the very God that has saved us by his great mercy and we adore and seek to follow every day it should come as little surprise to us that in his providence he spoke to us in ways earlier that year that have become increasingly pertinent as time has gone on.

We’re all wondering about the future of so many aspects of our lives; many of us don’t know what the future of our jobs will be like, whether we’ll have jobs to go back to, parents and kids are wondering about the future of school and what a summer holiday looks like. And in the midst of all of this, it is therefore entirely natural to be asking questions about the future of Life Church. 

This is why we wrote to you last week (find it here), to talk to you about how we are trying to answer those specific and pressing questions about what the next steps of us functioning, gathering and flourishing as a Church might look like as government guidance progresses and we enjoy the return freedoms that for so long many of us took for granted, and now will be deeply cherished. So what now?

In January this year several leaders across Life Church felt that God was calling us to make greater strides into being a people of prayer than we have ever done before. To enjoy awe and intimacy with our father in heaven through prayer as individuals and corporately. Then, through the first few months of the year we turned our attention to the opening chapters of the book of Revelation and heard Jesus’ words to the church: to endure testing times with patience[4], to be commended for our faithfulness more than for how impressive church might be[5] and, critically, to not forget our first love[6].

How pertinent these things now feel! We can’t depend on the shape and place of our meetings; we must depend on our awesome God. We can no longer be caught up in others’ love for God; we can only resolve to remember for ourselves our love for Jesus and how he first loved us. Whilst our ability to talk to one another face to face has been extremely limited for months and will in all likelihood continue to be so; it drives us to the place where, like Moses, we know that we can speak face to face with God himself the way someone talks to their closest friend[7].

It is our hope then that as Life Church crests the coming waves of life over the next few months that we will follow in this call that God is laying before us: 

To remember our first love & to discover new depths to our individual and corporate prayer life amidst our ongoing mission to love our neighbours and serve one another. 

This will be borne out in a number of different ways:

  • We as elders are praying for you to know God more as you come to him in times of prayer.
  • We will be having times of corporate prayer and fasting.
  • We will be having a teaching series on prayer over the summer.
  • All of us will work through The Prayer Course together.
  • We will be opening The Life Centre to be a place of prayer for individuals and small groups (see the previous blog for more on this).

But to focus entirely on the specifics of what we will do would be to miss one of the valuable lessons that I believe God has been teaching us throughout lockdown. That when the stuff we do is stripped away from us God is intimately interested, not just with what we do, rather with who we are.

Our prayer is that we will grow as a church whose greatest joy in the entire world is to know and be known by Jesus Christ our awesome saviour.

Our prayer is that we will turn to him not out of duty or formality but out of daily delight.

Our prayer is that we would be a church who sees answered prayers manifest in the lost becoming found, the sick becoming healed, the broken becoming restored, and the provision of both our daily and our extraordinary needs.

Our prayer is that we would be a church who experiences awe and intimacy with God not just so that he would change our world but so that he would change us.

Our prayer is that we would be a church who speaks with God daily as someone talks to his closest friend – not because we must, but because we can – and because we can, we must.

 

David McNee
30/6/20

Foot Notes

[1] John 1
[2] Acts 17
[3] Colossians 1
[4] Revelation 1:2
[5] Revelation 3:2
[6] Revelation 2:4
[7] Exodus 33:11

by Dave McNee