Resource, Webinar Recording

Listen and learn with other leaders about how to foster conversational small group prayer. This webinar was led by Sam Huizenga and attended by Coffee Break and small group leaders from the US and Canada. 

August 19, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

I challenged them to recite the Apostle's Creed without letting their mind wander. As it was, I actually promised them a million dollars if they could report the next morning that they had been completely successful...

July 6, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

The 2015 Prayer Summit may be over but let's share our experiences from this powerful event!

April 28, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Video

Watch this newly released video for Prayer Summit 2015! The Summit provides opportunities to learn how to pray, build a prayer ministry, and partner in prayer with other organizations and congregations.

March 12, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Why do most pastors prepare their sermons and most worship leaders prepare their songs, but some of those same individuals choose to wing their prayers?

February 10, 2015 2 7 comments
Blog

For all the steps back, the changes, and the instabilities, such small steps forward look to me like God acting in ways that should excite us.

January 10, 2015 2 4 comments
Resource, Website

I am posting one brief prayer for each chapter of the letters of the New Testament. The idea is that you would read one of the chapters of any letter, and then pray the prayer you find on my blog.

December 11, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

In this webinar you will learn how to recognize the voice of God and what comprises "listening prayer" while we explore some of the many ways God speaks in scripture and still speaks today.

November 19, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

“Why am I going to bed at 10:30 p.m. only to get up at 11:45 p.m. for a two-hour time of prayer?” These were my thoughts as I joined six of my friends in getting into our sleeping bags on a hard church basement floor.

October 16, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog

There are times reading the Bible when particular words, phrases, and sentences penetrate my heart and mind in ways others don't. Recently, I spent a few weeks meditating on a prayer written by the apostle Paul...

September 4, 2014 2 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

Following Jesus' examples in the gospels, this webinar will challenge pastors, church leaders, and prayer coordinators to work together to move our churches toward becoming Houses of Prayer.

April 30, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Be Part of a Prayer Movement!

Join us as God rekindles our passion for prayer in the Great Lakes region. This event, sponsored by the RCA Regional Synod of the Great Lakes and the Home Missions Great Lakes region, will focus on building and strengthening a life of prayer, both personally...

October 17, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

This is the "inbetween year" - between Prayer Summits, and regional and local prayer summits are being planned.  Would you let us know here if you know of one?  Thanks.  I'm pretty sure Red Mesa, Chicagoland, Great Lakes are all planning for this fall.

August 19, 2013 0 8 comments
Q&A

Has anyone used the small group study on Prayer from Faith Alive? How did it help deepen the faith life of your community? Any other small group study suggestions?

May 7, 2013 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

In December we mentioned a 40 day prayer guide called  "Supporting Life with Prayer" which you can use in your devotions. The prayer guide calls "all Christians to pray for an end to abortion on demand and situations leading up to such a life changing decision". That prayer guide is now...

January 10, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

In the year 2013, we will have the 40 year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to allow abortion on demand.  Please watch this Prayer forum on The Network for a 40-day prayer schedule called “Supporting Life with Prayer” to use in your personal devotions.  We are calling all Christians to...

November 29, 2012 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

The editorial linked to below mentions "prophetic" in some form 2 times.  I also heard this word being used at synod in various discussions.  We had a short discussion on it via the live chat stream, which I found insightful to the wide variety of interpretation of what it means to be "prophetic...

June 14, 2012 0 21 comments
Q&A

I've been asked to develop a job desciption for a "Prayer Coordinator" for our congrgation. Does anyone have something that would is general enough and yet particular enoufg to be practical?

June 5, 2012 0 5 comments
Discussion Topic

Daniel Henderson, president of Strategice Renewal, is coming to the Christian Reformed Church of St. Joseph to lead us in a Fresh Encounters Prayer Experience on Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30.  He'll be teaching us about the biblical model of worship-based prayer and leading us in it.  A...

May 25, 2012 0 2 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 02/15/2012 In this webinar you'll discover ways to mobilize your church to pray for both local and global missions.

February 15, 2012 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

This is the song "O Church Arise" by Keith Getty and Stuart Towned, who also wrote the well known hymn "In Christ Alone" as well as many other beautiful modern hymns. The LORD put this song on my heart several times over the last year as I pray about our (the Church's) role in...

December 14, 2011 0 0 comments
Q&A

One of the goals for our church in this coming year is to have a prayer retreat. I led one a couple of years ago, but I'd like to hear what other churches have done. If your church has had a prayer retreat what was the format? Was it one day or a weekend? Was it on your church campus or off site...

August 18, 2011 0 1 comments
Q&A

Does anyone have experience with Strategic Prayer Initiative? It was developed through Harvest Prayer Ministries (a group that CRC'er Al VanderGriend is on staff with).

My church is considering it as a more systematic approach to our prayer ministry. But we'd really love to hear from...

August 16, 2011 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

I've been meaning to post this for a while, so we can use this as a guide for some of our prayers concerning the various spheres of influence we have...

"Our vision, a dream for the crc, that we will be a leading voice, a leader for God’s mission work in NA in the 21st...

July 6, 2011 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

Ok, I had shared part of a testimony as a reply under the first "listening prayer"  posting... what was interesting timing is that very day when I wrote this 2nd part, I later ran into the cantata director to get his permission to share his part in it.   I had only met him at the cantata last...

July 6, 2011 0 0 comments

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I am working through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and the issue of indifference is at the center of St. Ignatius's statement of Principle and Foundations.  Thanks for making this wonderful-but-difficult concept accessible to Reformed folks. 

This is the other reason I prefer a liturgical worship service - the prayers have been vetted and I know what the sentences

mean. Sometimes I disagree with the theology of the readings that come out of Grand Rapids so I keep my mouth shut. Some of the things I hear/read are more dispensational than Reformed. 

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Leon, thanks for the reminder that the Psalms are the best of the formed prayers.  Your comments harmonize with today's reading in the One Year Bible - Psalm 36.  Verses 5-7 offer a great prayer of praise. 

Grace and peace to you,

Sam

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Thank you for the excellent feedback - and for the spirit in which it was given.

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Sam,

Thank you for writing this reflection on the Prayers of the People.  I'm thinking quite a bit about this ministry right now, so I appreciate your thoughts on the topic.  I work hard on my Prayers, as I recognize the importance of them.  I've employed a variety of strategies as I seek to pray for the people and teach them how to pray.  We sometimes have what I call "prayer conversations" at our church, at which time we invite testimonies of thanksgiving and prayer requests.  Then I'll invite the people to pray for any requests they feel called to pray for.  At other times I'll write out my prayers and read out the prayer.  Regardless, one thing I've found very helpful with both forms of prayer: praying the psalms.  I'll almost always read a psalm as a Call to Prayer or use parts of a psalm in the actual prayer--with great blessing. 

Again, thank you for reflecting on public prayer.  A very important ministry in the worship service.

Grace & peace,

Leon

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Thanks Sam for responding to my long winded comment.  I judge from your last response, as well as your original article, that apart from the theology of prayer, or who we are addressing in prayer (whether God or the congregation), pastors and worship leaders are directly or indirectly helping to shape the prayer life of worshipers.  The reality, though, for most if not all in the congregation (including ministers) is that their personal prayer lives consist of impromptu prayers, rather than formed or extemporaneous.  So if ministers are hoping to shape the prayers of those in the pews, shouldn’t they help them in the format they are most comfortable with?  Do we really expect church members to use “formed” or “extemporaneous” prayers in their devotional lives?  Following your premise of shaping the prayer lives of those in the pews, perhaps developing easy patterns of impromptu prayer (such as Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication) would be more helpful to those in the pews, especially if ministers used such impromptu patterns thoughtfully.   

As to my personal opinion, as to what format ministers and worship leaders use in congregational prayers, I think they use what is most comfortable for themselves.  Some find it much more comfortable to have their prayers prepared ahead of time, so they don’t find themselves put on the spot in the immediate moment of praying.  Others use the formed prayers of others because they sound and feel meaningful to the ears and hearts of the congregation.  Others feel more comfortable and adequate with impromptu prayer.  Extemporaneous prayer, as you describe, seems to be a combination of those three.  Whichever format one uses in public prayer it should be thoughtful, just like the rest of the worship service.  I agree with you that ministers should never just “wing it,” (even with impromptu prayer).  And if that is the point of your article, that congregational prayer should not be winged, I agree with you.  Thanks again for making us think.

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Thanks, Roger.   Good stuff.   Always good to talk about prayer.  And you got me thinking about the impact of the audience on our preparation.  We prepare our sermons for the congregation but shall we prepare our prayers for the Lord? You raise a good question. 

Plus you accent two points I was trying to get at.  First, of the three types of prayer - impromptu, extemporaneous, and formed - I have not found one type essentially more spiritual than another. Second, the prayers of those on the platform will shape the prayers of those in the pews. For that reason, I often opt for extemporaneous or formed prayers, rather than impromptu.  

Thanks again for taking the time to response.  Your words are helpful to me as I shape my lectures for seminarians.

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

Thanks, Sam, for your article on corporate prayer.  Prayer, for most Christians, is a puzzling subject.  Before answering your question of how ministers or worship leaders should pray in corporate prayer, let me make some necessary comments first.  What do we accomplish or hope to accomplish through prayer?  In what ways is prayer effective?  Does God change his mind about our circumstances in life so that by prayer we can persuade God to change his preplanned actions.  Does the one praying have to fulfill a list of criteria in order for his/her prayers to be effective?  Is prayer for the benefit of God or for the one praying? The list can go on and on as to the questions and doubts one has in regard to meaningful and effective prayer.  Although there are a number of different aspects of prayer (ACTS), what stands out in both the Old and New Testaments is the concept of petitionary prayer.  Jesus taught on several occasions to “ask for whatever you want and it will be given.”  It easy to give thanks to God, to give praise, to confess one’s shortcomings, but petitionary prayer is where the rub comes in.  How often do we receive from God what we prayed for, that wasn’t likely to happen anyway?  When it comes to petitioning God, does prayer really have any effect?  It would seem that if prayer was effective in the simple and commonsense way that Jesus taught about it in the gospels, then Christians would stand in much better stead than those who weren’t Christian and who didn’t pray. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.   So if Jesus’ instructions can not be taken literally how should we understand them?  And so ministers and theologians come to a multitude of conclusion in regard to prayer.

That is the reason why different ministers and worships leaders pray in the various ways that they do.  They are, perhaps, trying to reach God in the most effective way possible in order for God to hear and answer their prayers.  Some might suggest that written and pre-prepared prayers do not touch the heart of God therefore are not as effective as Spirit driven spontaneous prayer.  Others would say that the Spirit can inhabit prepared prayers as much as spontaneous prayer.  So I would suggest that one reason that a minister might use one kind of prayer over another has to do with his concept of prayer and what happens through prayer.  

A question I have in regard to extemporaneous prayers, as you suggest, is, are they any more effective than any other pattern of corporate prayer?  Perhaps as you suggest in your last paragraph, what difference do it make?  The difference that you imply, is it doesn’t really matter to God, but it might to the congregation.

Something worth remembering as to the difference between prayer and other parts of the worship service, is that in prayer you are addressing God and in the sermon you are addressing the congregation, two different audiences.  So if in prayer, you are addressing God, then as you say, why does it make any difference?  If you are trying to impress a congregation with a style of prayer, then maybe you have to pick and choose?  But who are you praying to anyway?  Certainly not the congregation.  I really doubt that any one form of prayer has a greater effect than any other.  But I’m quite certain that others would disagree.

Maybe the makeup of the congregation would also make a difference as to how a worship leader or minister would conduct prayer.  A large traditional church, a large contemporary congregation, or a small farm community church would each make a difference in the church’s personality and likely would also make a difference in the spontaneity or formality of congregational prayers.

Thanks for your interesting article.  It does make a person think about the topic of prayer.

posted in: Winging Our Prayers

As much as peace is needed, I pray there are better ways of getting to the peace we desperately desire. Putting it plainly, “inter-faith services” are neither honest nor courageous – they are a spiritual lie. They deny the Lordship of Christ and only confuse those who outside of the grace of Allah in Jesus. Much of our scripture documents the failure of Israel to attain ‘peace’ and ‘unity’ at the expense of Yahweh’s sovereign glory – it didn’t work for them then, and it will not work for us now. Please pray for peace and understanding, but with God’s glory, not without.

Allah is the Arabic word for God. Muslims in the English speaking world refer to Allah as God, and Christians in the Middle East refer to God as Allah. By using the term, Naji is not equating the two, just as when we say that Jews worship God, we are not saying that they worship Jesus. We all simply refer to the one we worship as God, even though they are different.

Naji, I appreciate that Sisi may be a good man. I think you miss-spelled a word .... "a pious Muslim seeking to know and serve God" should have read.... '"a pious Muslim seeking to know and serve Allah". I think there is a difference.  As far as I understand, Muslims do not equate Jesus as being God. Until that changes you should maybe use the right word.

A quick correction: Sisi was flying back from Kuwait, not Jordan, on Eastern Christmas Eve. Also, if any of you are interested in seeing the subtitled video of Sisi addressing the religious leaders, here's a link: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153821113352316&set=vb.7352800231...

Dear Eric,
Thanks for your question.  My webinar on listening prayer was very intentional about pointing us to scripture, and I gave scripture to back up all of the many ways God speaks to us (I listed 10 ways).  There are many Biblical examples of prayer, which is conversation with God.  There are many examples in the O.T. of God's people hearing from God in the various ways I mention in the webinar. It started in Genesis with God speaking to Adam and Eve, (Genesis 3:8-13). God initiated dialog with His people in the Garden. Samuel as a young boy and also as an adult prophet, clearly heard the Lord's voice, for example.
In the N.T. the examples continue.  John 10:27 clearly states that "my sheep hear my voice". Phillip received his orders by hearing the Spirit, (Acts 8:26,29).  Paul was also directed where to go and not to go (Macedonia) by the voice of God in a vision, (Acts 16:6-10). 
When Jesus taught us to pray as He did in Matthew 6:9-13 with the Lord's prayer, I would say the first 2 words give proof that God speaks. "Our Father". Did you ever know of a father who did not speak to his children?  
When we think of prayer as the means God has chosen to build relationship with Him as his children, it may seem more understandable that God listens to us but also speaks to us.  It is our being quiet and still in prayer that composes the "listening" part of prayer.  "Listening Prayer" is not a term found in scripture, but something that helps us to be aware of and continue to grow in our ability to listen so we can hear from the God who speaks in so many ways.
Rev. Alvin VanderGriend, has taught us well in his little book, "Love to Pray", "Prayer is dialog between the believer and God - a dialog of love.  It's a two-way communication that involves both talking and listening.  That's the kind of prayer relationship God wants with us.....Prayer is all about hearing our Shepherd's voice.  In fact, when we pray, it's probably more important to listen than to speak."  (Love to Pray p 52).  
God bless you on this journey,
Mary Sterenberg
 

"Prayer is not about us doing all the talking, but engaging in relational dialog with God."

Mary, can you support this statement from the Bible?

When Jesus taught us to pray, did he speak and tell us to speak, or did he instruct us to listen?

Can you provide a Biblical of example of prayer as listening?

‘Fanning the Flame, Rekindling Our Heritage of Prayer’
Location - Corinth Reformed Church, Byron Center MI
Date & Time - November 8 & 9, 2013

Would you like to pray for the CRC and RCA?  You can get a short daily prayer focus on facebook  Great Lakes Prayer Summit 2013.  If you want a two paragraph weekly email that offers praises and prayer requests for the Summit, send an email to greatlakesprayersummit@gmail.com  subject line: PRAYER.  

I hope you will share the links and join in the movement of prayer!

I better qualify that....   I'm not the host so I'm being presumptuous when I answer your question.  I don't really know if they have space to welcome everyone who would want to come.  So you better check with one of the clerks.   

They sure are!  Everyone's welcome!

Are people other than tri-classes elders and pastors invited? 

Yes--although the agenda for the day is heavy, the 3 Chicagoland Classes are sharing in a mini prayer summit during the lunch hour. Gregg De Mey and Jane Voss are the primary people planning this, but I and another pastor will also be helping to plan it.

Peter K.

I believe it's going to be built into the tri-classical meeting day.

I think Peter Kelder, the Regional Home Missionary in Chicagoland, is the one how knows about the regional prayer summit plan.

I haven't heard of the Chicagoland one yet; yes, please let us know. 

 

Hi Tim,

The study is from Faith Alive's "Discover Your Bible" series and is called "Discover Prayer". The link to the leadership guide is http://www.faithaliveresources.org/Products/152705/discover-prayer-leader-guide.aspx

Can you give the title (and link) of the particular study you're referring to?

I've been reading the Prayer Saturated Church by Cheryl Sacks that has a section on developing job descriptions. It might be helpful.

 

Thank you, John. This is very timely. 

If anyone is looking for more resources on abortion and life as a whole, crcjustice.org/life is a good place to look. We have updated materials for churches (free bulletin inserts, worship planning resources, PowerPoint slides) and for everyone (information on abortion policy, church statements, helpful websites, articles, and advocacy tips).

We too are looking at the situations that lead up to these life changing decisions and praying for change. I look forward to the reading the prayer schedule!

 Bev, it's a good question, and I don't know the answer.  It certainly seems like a warning to us.   Don't take your children for granted.   Don't assume too much with regard to their faith.   Children are always our prime mission field. 

But we can also take some encouragement.... sometimes the sons did follow the faith of their fathers.   And sometimes... I'm now thinking of Hezekiah and his son Manasseh, where Manasseh re-installed the idols and false gods his father had destroyed, but... then when Manasseh was in trouble, was captured, and when he returned from his own exile, he returned to God as well. 

When we are busy with careers, work, making money, even with preaching or church work or missions, we should not forget that our children need our witness and our attention.  If the lost soul in Kenya needs our attention, then our young children also need the same attention.  Our children too have the questions, insecurities, struggles about who God is in their lives.   How we respond when they are young, is probably most impacting. 

Deuteronomy talks about binding the law on your forehead and doorpost, and partly that was to remind oneself, but also it was the way to teach the children.   Well, only part of the way.   You can do all of that, but the follow up is needed to explain it and to live it.   And to pray for your children.   I've read somewhere that a parent first prayed for his child when she was still in the womb.  And what did he pray?  that she would come to love the Lord.   and that she would find a godly husband.   Seems a bit premature, doesn't it?  but it sets the tone for what is the most important thing in your life, and the life of your child.   So imagine that your witness to that child begins already before she is born, and continues throughout. 

Hi John... there's a biblical trend with children that I find very disturbing... Aaron's sons offered unholy fire and were killed, Eli's sons also were disobedient, Samuel's boys didn't do any better, David's kids were not a model family (at all)...  and the list goes on... what was the disconnect between godly father and ungodly son...  I've been pondering this for a while, and I'm not making much progress... (this was suppose to be a reply to an earlier post on 7.23.12, but it looks like I didn't reply the right way)

What is our present spiritual condition?  Is it like Asa… who removed the idols and repaired the altar?  Or is it like Asa who stopped relying on the Lord and became angry with the prophet? 

Is it like Jehoshaphat who walked in the ways of his ancestor David and who sought the Lord?  Or like Jehoshaphat who allied himself with (baal worshipper) Ahab by marriage, and helped Ahab in his battle? 

Jehoshaphat removed  the visible signs of false worship , the idols and high places and asherah poles from Judah (although not from Israel),.  But apparently he still relied on alliances with worldly kings, with Ahab and Ahaziah, and was willing to even ally himself thru marriage, including the marriage of his son to a daughter of Ahab.   

 Can we assume then because we have removed the idols, and we have sought the Lord, that we have not allied ourselves with Ahabs of this world in various ways?   When Jehosophat did this, his son Jehoram was the fruit of it, naturally marrying a daughter of Ahab as his godly father encouraged him, and then why would Jehoshaphat be surprised at the evil done by his son Jehoram? 

We can ask ourselves what the spiritual condition of the denomination is, where are we headed, how are our alliances?  And then, each of us can  ask ourselves:  what is our own personal spiritual condition?    What prophecies will we listen to and where do we put our trust? 

  • - -  -  -  - -    -   ---- -- ---     ---    ---

Scripture references: 

II Chron.15: 8 “When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of[a]Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lordthat was in front of the portico of the Lord’s temple… 17 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lordall his life…..“Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lordyour God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand….10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people….

…II chron 17:3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat(son of Asa) because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed…  6 His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah. ..1.Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage…1.When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem(after the battle), 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love[a]those who hate the Lord?Because of this, the wrath of the Lordis upon you.3 There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God. ”…II Chron. 20:27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lordhad given them cause to rejoice over their enemies….

II Chron. 21:4 When Jehoram(son of Jehoshaphat) established himself firmly over his father’s kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the princes of Israel.5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years.6 He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” 

Would it be appropriate to ask "what is our present spiritual condition?"

Yes, I'm reading II chronicles 20 and 21 next.   The communal reliance by Jehosophat and Judah on God instead of man when faced with three different foreign tribes in one battle was encouraging, yes.  God fought that battle.   Reading further, you get a hint of Jehosophat relying on worldly alliances again, with Ahaziah.  And then you discover that his son Jehoram has married the daughter of Ahab;  so why would we be surprised that Jehoram then rebuilds all the high places and Asheroth poles that Jehosophat destroyed?  Why are we surprised that Jehoram son of Jehosophat kills all his brothers, and some other members of the royal family as well? 

I guess it is a warning that we cannot take our present spiritual condition for granted.   Nor can we assume that our present spiritual worship will somehow overrule our present worldly alliances and tendencies.   Our children will pay for our equivocation.   You can take that as a prophecy. 

thanks John for your response... I wasn't asking should we "more" eagerly desire it than everything else, but do we desire it at all, and how eager is that desire...  and your questions of at what level (ie crc leaders, pastors, elders, individuals) could all have different answers...

no, I don't want to have prophets that just "tickle our ears" and tell us what we want to hear, but maybe that is what some want, but I hope not... that is an entire discussion in itself...  that's one of the reasons why I struggle with such techniques as "appreciative inquiry"... are we so fragile (or maybe it's pride) that we can't take any criticism, any pointing out of where we have fallen short for the purpose of repentance and healing, so we can walk more fully in God's intended plan for us.  If we are unwilling to acknowledge where we have been wrong, or missed something, and therefore are not walking in alignment with the Spirit in an area, we cannot move forward much, if at all. 

I think of 2 very different responses in Acts when it says the people listening were "cut to the heart"... one is Acts 2:37-42 where the response to Peter's message that they had killed Jesus, was "what shall we do" and they gladly received his word and were baptized, the second is in Acts 8:54-60 in response to Stephen's message, here they were also "Cut to the heart" but this group gnashed at him with their teeth, and stoned him...  both groups of people were "cut to the heart", but the responses were very, very different.

So are you reading 2 Chron 20 next?  that is one of my favorite stories of communal fasting and prayer and worship =)

2 Chron 18 is an interesting perspective on prophets and how God put a "lying spirit" in the mouth of the king's prophets...   I think that shows us why testing the prophetic is so important... I don't think it should cause us to shut the door on it, though.  Jehoshapahat discerned the king's prophets were lying and only telling Ahab what he wanted to hear... Jehoshaphat is an interesting king... 

I ask these questions, because so far what I have generally found for the most part, is that the prophetic has not been encouraged and instead discouraged... but I'm not sure if that is just my experience, or is that generally the case in the crc...

Bev, "is it more eagerly  desired..." is a pretty general question.   How would we know?  Desired by CRC headquarters?  By pastors and preachers?  By elders?  By everyone else?   by ourselves?   Is it only individuals who can speak prophetically, or can the anomalous institution also speak prophetically? 

This morning I was reading the story of Jehosophat and Ahab who were considering a battle (Chronicles).  Ahab had 400 prophets telling him to go because they would be successful.  (sounds like a consensus).  Jehosophat heard them, but asked for a real prophet of God.  Ahab said, yes, there was one prophet, but he was irritating, always giving him bad news, and he didn't really want him.  They got this one real prophet Micaiah anyway, and guess what?  he agreed with the 400!  But, Ahab sensed his sarcasm, and shouted at him to not lie, but tell him the real truth!  Irony of ironies!!  Then Micaiah gave the real prophecy and said that the battle would not go well, and that Ahab would die.  Well, did it make a difference?  Did Ahab and Jehosophat listen?  hardly.  partly.  They put Micaiah in prison on bread and water.  They changed uniforms, and Ahab was disguised as a soldier instead of a king.  An enemy soldier shot an arrow at a random Israelite soldier, not realizing it was Ahab king of Israel, and it pierced his body armor and killed him. 

Well, doesn't it make you laugh and cry a bit?  We want prophecy, but only if we like it?  We want prophets, but only if they agree with us?  We know the truth, but don't want to hear it? 

Perhaps we ought to more eagerly desire God's will, more eagerly spend time in His Word, more eagerly spend time in prayer, and then true prophecy will be a "natural" God-given result? 

(400 prophets who were wrong.... makes you think, doesn't it?) 

Of course, those 400 prophets did not worship God.  They were from Israel, not from Judah.  They likely worshipped Baal and other gods.   So maybe this doesn't apply to us?   But even Jehosophat, a good king, worshipper of the one true God,  didn't listen to Micaiah that day.

"1 When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is upon you. 3 There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.  "  II Chronicles 19. 

ok, s'more questions and thoughts on the prophetic...

1. it is to be eagerly desired (I Cor. 14:1)... so is it?  does the crc eagerly desire this gift?  Why or why not?

2. are those gifted with the prophetic gifting being encouraged in their gifting, and if so, how?

3.  are those gifted with the prophetic gifting being equipped to understand and walk in their gifting, and if so, how?

... and if not to #2 & 3, then why not?

 

thanks to all of you for your input thus far... it is very helpful and insightful..

 

 

 

Hi Greg... it looks like that link is no longer available as they (CAC) have recently (in June) redone their website with a different web address, and I can't find the quote anymore... it was a quote regarding the prophets then, prophets now conference Richard Rohr did back in 2006...    here's the new website and at the bottom of this link you will see that Richard dates it June 2012... it seems he is much more focused on contemplation and mysticism now (seems more new age, but they do still reference scripture and God), and it looks like he has just started a new school on contemplation... I didn't see any mention of prophets or the prophetic on the new site...

http://cac.org/dm-themes 

What comes to mind is the difference between several prophets.  Nathan convinces king David of his need to repent.  Elijah prays for, or prophecies three years of  drought, then prays for rain, after slaughtering 400 men (also called prophets, but false prophets).  Jeremiah only prophecies doom and destruction, is cast into a well, imprisoned, but proven that his word is true.  Jonah the reluctant prophet, needed to be taught as much as the people of Nineveh did. 

Prophecy is not equivalent to earthly, nor even an institutional church type of authority.   We did not hear often of priests (institutional church) being called prophets, other than possibly Ezra.   Perhaps it is not an office conferred by men, nor even validated by men, but rather directly by God. 

Hi Bev,

Just a quick request - I'm just now following this discussion and found that a link you posted was broken.  Could you verify that for me?

Thanks,

 

Greg Bode

 

Broken link:

http://archive.cacradicalgrace.org/conferences/prophets/prophets_overvie...

keep asking questions like these, John!  sharpen and challenge us to think about what God intended leadership to look like...  as a crc task force is currently looking at the culture and structure of our denomination, I hope they are asking similar questions...  Would love to hear any thoughts from others on the points/questions John brings us through his comment here...

Whenever tensions arise between certain interest groups in our local church and the church’s leadership, the leaders are often quick to point out that the church is not a democracy, where leadership reflects the will of the people, but a theocracy where leaders lead on behalf of Christ, the head of the church.

Naturally, this presupposes that church leaders are particularly in tune with Christ’s will for His church. When there are indications that such is not the case (usually not that difficult to document, and often admitted to by church leaders from the outset), the usual fall-back position is that while church leaders are fallen, and even broken human beings, their authority still stands, presumably based on the authority of the ecclesiastical office (ex-officio).

In sharp contrast to that is the reality that God indwells individual people with His Spirit, and that this results in spiritual gifts, including gifts of discernment, teaching, leadership, and even prophecy (here defined as speaking on behalf of God).

Historical examples of this tension between spiritual discernment and God-ordained leadership should include Nathan speaking to King David about his affair with Bathsheba, Jesus speaking to the Pharisees about living according to the Law of Moses, and Luther speaking to the pope about creating a new path to heaven by way of purchasing indulgences.

It appears, then, that if ours is really Christ’s church, and Christ cares about what the church is and does, then the question of what kind of human leadership is needed, in order for Christ’s vision for the church to be realized here on earth, is still somewhat of an open question.

Even if we limit ourselves to examples from the Bible, does the preponderance of evidence point us towards the efficacy of divinely appointed offices (whether they be priests, kings, judges, etc)? Or to spiritual wisdom, as resulting from direct intervention by the Holy Spirit, at a particular moment in time in the life of a specific individual, leading that individual to speak truth to power, or to speak pastorally to God’s people in times of specific need?

And even if we resort to our usual strategy of equivocating, allowing for both/and to be operative in the church today, then how do they work in tandem? Do they work in their own unique realm? Divine office people doing divine office things, and spirit-led prophets speaking prophetically in their own little prophet world? And never the two shall meet?

Just asking….

Thx. John Vandonk for sharing re Richard Rohr and prophets then, prophets now.  I would love to hear how you heard about him, and if you went to or heard the conf., would you be willing to share which speakers/session you found particularly helpful, and what you believe God is sharing with us through this.  I find that testimony so fascinating.   If you would rather share this directly with me, instead of on a public forum, please contact me via my contact link on my info page.  I have been researching the prophetic gifting and the role of prophet for the last several years, and so any and all input is helpful. 

I agree with RR that the office of prophet is a missing "link" in the church of today.   and agree as the following quote mentions and 2 Kings 9:10 confirms, it is an office (and a gift), that is not especially appreciated or understood today.

Quote from this link http://archive.cacradicalgrace.org/conferences/prophets/prophets_overview.html 

BOQ...Although the Jewish prophets were the authoritative teachers of Israel and St. Paul lists the prophet as the second most important role in the church, they are largely unknown and almost always undesired. The role itself is ignored in Jesus, even though he claims it.

How could this happen? 

Could this be the missing link which explains much of the impotence of modern religion?  Is recovering the prophetic role a key to church and cultural renewal?  EOQ

 

Richard Rohr, a franciscan contemplative author and speaker, put on a conference entitled: "Prophets then, prophets now".  there are audio recordings of the lectures which you may find helpful. I tried to include a link in this post, but that didn't work. Just google richard rohr and prophet and it will show up

Here's a five-year  old Prayer Coordinator Job Description.  We no longer have this position and there are several things in the job description that we'd change to fit our current church life, but hope it helps you think about your own needs. 

 

PRAYER COORDINATOR

Job Description

 

The Prayer Coordinator at First CRC is a part time, volunteer position.  This person will interact with staff and congregation, encouraging and enabling growth in prayer.  As a result of the work of this person, First Church will grow in maturity and practice of prayer.

 

DESIRED CHARACTERISTICS OF THE COORDINATOR:

·        Prays regularly

·        Attends worship regularly

·        Organized

·        Administrative skills

·        Communicates well with others in verbal and written forms

·        Knowledgeable about prayer in its various forms

·        Humble and gentle (perhaps through personal “brokenness” experience)

·        Encourager

·        Discerner of needs and of the Spirit

 

EXPECTED ACTIVITIES OF THE COORDINATOR:

  1. Congregational Prayer Requests
    1. Collect Prayer Needs

                                                               i.      Via notes, phone calls and emails from staff and members

                                                             ii.      From missionary care team

                                                            iii.      Through personal discernment re: life of the church

  1. Communicate Prayer Needs

                                                               i.      Prayer Phone Line (updated twice weekly)

                                                             ii.      Prayer Page on the Web site (updated twice weekly)

                                                            iii.      To the Pastors and Worship leaders for public prayer

                                                           iv.      To prayer teams as needed

  1. Resource Center for Prayer
    1. Research prayer studies or books and recommend

                                                               i.      For library

                                                             ii.      For small groups

                                                            iii.      For Sunday School

                                                           iv.      For family devotions

  1. Teach prayer lessons as needed (or organize others to teach)

                                                               i.      Sunday School

                                                             ii.      Wednesday night

                                                            iii.      Small Groups

                                                           iv.      Evening Worship

  1. Prayer Partners
    1. Research prayer partner options
    2. Recruit as needed
    3. Through the MCD, connect with various ministries utilizing partner methods
    4. Regularly check with both partners to help them connect about the prayer needs and the prayer that is happening.
    5. Organize partner systems in desired places
    6. Keep record of all those who sign up to pray and encourage them periodically.
  2. Initiate new ideas for encouraging increase of prayer and maturity of prayer at First CRC. 

 

 

Bev, others will have more and better thoughts than I.  But I am reminded of Elijah complaining to God that he was the only one left who served God.  I am reminded of the donkey who spoke to Balaam.   I am reminded of Gideon asking for the dew on the fleece.  Prayer is a natural part of living for prophets;  it is embodied in every thing they see, or desire, or experience.   And for the prophets, I think that prayer included listening as much as speaking. 

Good thoughts John... Thanks for taking the time to think about this and respond.  I have just started studying Samuel as prophet (and seer, now there's a term we don't use too often)... I am particularly looking for indicators of his prayer life, and so as I was reading Samuel earlier today, and in 1 Samuel 7:5-17, it talks about Samuel interceding on behalf of the people, with a footnote that says, prophets had a special responsibility to be intercessors for God's people.  hmmm...  i think there is a high correlation between a person's prayer life and the release/level of prophetic gifting in their life.   that's my hypothesis, and so now I'm studying the prophets to see how true that is.  and love any and all the input from everyone that would like to share their thoughts!!  or maybe someone's written a book about this already, that I'm not aware of  =)...

What does it mean to be prophetic in our current culture?   I think of prophets like Nathan who spoke to King David, Elijah who spoke to Ahab,  Jeremiah who spoke to Israel, John the Baptist who was beheaded.   Maybe Stephen was also a prophet before he was stoned to death.  Generally their messages were unpopular, although sometimes, like John the Baptist, they gathered large crowds before they were put in prison.  But the essence of their prophecy was that they spoke the word of the Lord, and brought people to repentance, and back to God. 

Do you remember the story of the prophet who was deceived by another prophet, and yet was held responsible for his disobedience, and died as a result?   Prophecy does not guarantee perfection, and prophetic position does not guarantee purity or a prophetic word in all cases.  

In general, the significance of prophecy was that it countered the prevailing notions of the day, and yet was found to be true.   It was often unpopular because it stressed the supremacy of God at the expense of the popular opinions and current authorities.   The prophets stressed that Israel and Judah would suffer severely and be decimated because of the actions of most of the Israelites and Judaites and their kings in worshipping false gods on the high places.   John the Revelator prophecied first about several churches in terms of warnings and encouragements, as well as proclaiming the promised future of God's kingdom. 

I have difficulty calling someone a prophet when they merely follow the conventional and popular wisdom of the day.   A true prophet was a leader, not a follower.  Except for being a follower of God, of Christ, of His Word. 

Bev: I appreciate your post, and think it is extremely timely, given how much some recent speakers on Synod's floor emphasized that the institutional church must exercise its prophetic responsibilities (and so declare, for example, that a near consensus of scientists believe this and that about climate change).

I'll thus be more than a bit baffled if no one takes this opportunity to explain in this public CRC forum where they would have more than two minutes (time limit on the floor of Synod) to speak their minds.

And yes, I am baiting. :-)

But seriously, if this reason (CRCNA must exercise prophetic responsibility) is going to used to justify CRC statements/actions on non-ecclesiastic matters, some definitional discussion is needed.

thx. Doug, appreciate you thinking about this and sharing your insight...

Bev: I've been looking for suggested answers to your question. 

I tend to view the claim of having the responsibility to be prophetic in this article as merely a way to emphasis the writer's insistence that he is right and those who oppose his view are wrong.  In the context of the article you cite, I wonder why the Banner is not insisting, in order to excercise the church's prophetic role as it has chosen to do about climate change, that congress pass laws prohibiting taking the Lord's name in vain, or coveting, or adultery, or worshipping idols.  Doing that would be in accord with the article's emphasis on "sphere universality" (as the article seems to define it), as oppose to "sphere sovereignty."

Here is a partial contract description which was used for the Church Multiplication Initiative's National Prayer Advocate.  A bit broad since it covered several Kingdom Enterprise Zones.  But you may see something useful for a congregational level.

---------------------------------------------------

 

The Prayer Advocate will convene and champion the Strategic Prayer and Empowerment Task Force (SPETF) to be engaged in and equipped for prayer ministry related to church plants.

Services that will be provided

·       Mobilization:   Articulate a Church Multiplication Initiative (CMI) vision for prayer and be responsible for the recruitment and organization of KEZ prayer teams and intercessors; Direct each KEZ prayer leader in developing a team engaged in prayer; Administer and remain accountable for the SPETF budget

·       KEZ Coaching and Mentoring:  Provide bi-weekly one-hour coaching  conference calls for each KEZ prayer Leader on various aspects of a prayer ministry (e.g., prayer walking their communities, intercession for planters and teams, discerning strongholds in a community,  building prayer shields for church planters and planting teams, establishing houses of prayer, etc.)

·       Training and Equipping Events:  Design and conduct webinars for prayer leaders, their team members, and intercessors; Conduct onsite visits for each KEZ for prayer and equipping

·       Apprentice Zone Coaching: Begin working with apprentice zones as they show up on the radar and move towards becoming kingdom enterprise zones; Seek out leaders for coaching/equipping  for participation in the SPETF

Hi John,

Although I don't have specifically what you are asking for, I was able to locate a Prayer and Spiritual Development Director job description https://docs.google.com/a/crcna.org/document/pub?id=1dnDwd27gIL0DUllO5NpW-GVJpHF879FsUNRPNLGWHYo . Here's a Classis Prayer Coordinator job description which might give you some ideas as well http://network.crcna.org/content/classis/classis-prayer-coordinator-job-description .

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