The top five New Year's resolutions Americans made for 2019: exercise more, eat healthier, save money, lose weight, and reduce stress. These are consistently the most common resolutions we make (and break) year after year. Not surprising.
What may surprise you about these resolutions: in each of them, through our behavioral choices, we can generally anticipate the outcome. If we lace up our shoelaces and go out the door for a daily run, we will succeed in exercising more. If we buy more vegetables than cookies in the grocery store, we will likely eat healthier. If we auto-deposit to our retirement fund each month, we will end up saving more money. The resolutions we make will succeed or fail based on our behaviors and decisions.
We approach our missional living in the same way, wanting a guarantee of outcome. If I talk to my neighbor, then he is likely to attend my church. If I shovel my neighbor’s driveway, then she will end up asking me about my relationship with Jesus. However, when Jesus sends out the church (literally, the “sent ones”), he does not promise a direct and immediate outcome. He asks us to go.
In no missional behavior is this truer than the commitment to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the life of our community. We may even question how praying is a missional behavior of a “sent one” when we may or may not be able to anticipate a specific outcome.
So, why focus on developing the missional practice of prayer? Maybe prayer is about changing us, shaping us, and sending us into our neighborhood and the world.
“Open to the movement and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we grow and change, so that we more closely resemble the One to whom we pray. Not simply a process of human development or progress, nurturing our relationship with God means that we more fully and more profoundly manifest our prayer in our lives and our lives in our prayers. We live as we pray. Through the transformation of attitudes, expectations, and behavior, the witness of missional communities is that of a living prayer.”
[Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America- Darrell Guder, editor (page 158)]
“We live as we pray.” This year, Resonate Global Mission—the mission agency of the Christian Reformed Church—invites you and your congregation to live as “sent ones.” We ask you to resolve to practice the missional behavior of prayer, using these words:
Lord, we pray for an outpouring of your Holy Spirit that you would reveal Christ to us, shape us in the character of Christ, and equip us for the mission of Christ.
To help you keep this resolution, we offer these practical suggestions:
- Set a daily reminder on your phone with this prayer written out as the event. Pray for the place you are in and the people you see whenever the alarm rings.
- Print off this Prayer Reminder Card and hang it in a few places where you will see it throughout your day. Hang it on the bathroom mirror to remember to pray this prayer for yourself while you are brushing your teeth. Tape it to the dashboard of your car to remember to pray this prayer for your neighborhood each time you pull in your driveway. Use it as a bookmark in your Bible.
- Download our free wallpaper for your phone, to remind yourself of the words to this prayer every time you unlock your screen.
Finally, if you are committing to pray this prayer in 2020, please let us know! Drop us a quick email and let us know you are praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your neighborhood. We long to see the Christian Reformed Church as a missional community of living prayer.
Written by Amy Schenkel, Resonate Global Mission’s Regional Mission Leader for the Great Lakes Region. Resonate exists to equip CRC congregations to join God’s mission, both in their local neighborhoods and throughout the world. Do you and your church want to live more missionally? Resonate ministry leaders like Amy are here to help. Send us an email, and we'll connect you with a Resonate ministry leader near you.
This article originally appeared in the Resonate Global Mission Great Lakes Newsletter. You can view our newsletters and subscribe to this bimonthly digital newsletter here.