This past Sunday night we held a prayer service at the church with a concerted focus on not only the ministries of the church but also the concerns of our community. The final part of the service was spent in small group prayer where the church divided into groups of 4 or 5 and were led through a number of areas to prayer. The focus of that small group prayer time was revival beginning with our own changed hearts.
I received some interesting responses afterward on that particular portion of the service. A number of people found it difficult to pray that the Holy Spirit would instill in them a passion for the lost in their lives and places where they live. To pray that prayer can be scary when your focus on being a disciple has been more about being a faithful church attender than to follow Jesus into the big bad world to share the Gospel.
Praying that prayer is opening yourself up to a whole lot of scary uncertainty not to mention what could and most certainly will be a big change in your spiritual character. In essence that prayer says, "God, radically change me so that I hurt when you hurt and have the deep desire to reach out to people who may be opposed to you or your message, people who might be hurting or oppressed or antagonistic to the truth. Put me out there God to live the Great Commission."
That prayer confronts us with our Jonah syndrome that we want nothing to do with the Ninevites in the world -- THOSE people -- and would rather see them go to hell. To pray that prayer tells God we're willing to be open to whatever he has for us and whoever he brings across our path. But most of all that prayer tells God we're open to change because we want his will to be done in the world, humbly laying ourselves at his feet.
In short it's the disciple's prayer. It's one that every true disciple needs to pray. But for many it is the scariest prayer of all.
I came away from that evening with the very clear realization that that prayer needs to be prayed over and over in every church until people actually begin to change and begin reaching people with the GREAT NEWS of new life in Christ. And then we need to keep praying it still.
Now, could you imagine what it would be like if every small group kept praying that prayer? I see small groups being set on fire and growing exponentially thus growing the church and turning out committed followers of Jesus Christ -- real disciples.
'til next time.