Last week, Vision Points launched a renewed emphasis on fasting as the church began a 21 day fast to seek God for souls, our needs, the completed vision for the church, and more of Him in our lives and church. Another large group are fasting in some way. When the 21 day fast is over, our Vision Points calls for other times of fasting throughout the year as the Spirit leads.
This week, Vision Points will launch my Prayer Initiative for the church. Without prayer, a person can't grow in the Lord, much less be a Christian. Without prayer backing it, a church will dry up and die and will certainly cease to experience all of the things God has planned for it. The answer to this for many is to start a prayer ministry of sorts. The problem is that these prayer ministries end up being put right along side youth ministries, kids ministries, and music ministries. Prayer becomes something then that some are good at and others are not. The problem there is that EVERYONE is called to pray. However, not everyone does. In fact in a time where many are complaining and lobbying for prayer and Bible reading to get back in our schools, the fact is that prayer and Bible reading are mostly absent from the home which is the bedrock of all instruction and life lessons.
The Bible gives continued direction to pray from cover to cover. What becomes even more clear is that prayer is powerful enough to change lives, situations, and decisions. Joshua made the famous declaration that he and his house would serve the Lord. Understanding Jewish culture allows us insight into what this declaration meant. The Jewish family would be led by the father to pray together sometimes three times a day. The father literally put together what we might call family worships services as he took an active role in blessing his wife and children and teaching his children how to pray and serve the Lord. It doesn't take a genius to look around and see this is certainly missing in the average American family, but it's also largely absent in the Christian family as well. In fact, leading researchers have provided upsetting stats in the form of approximately only 3% of all Christians spend quiet time alone with God for longer than 15 mins a day on a regular basis. The percentage goes even lower when asked how many families get together for family quiet time on a regular basis. If prayer changes things, and it does, and prayer has the power to defeat the enemy, and it does, and if prayer can keep our families together, and it will, then why is it that we do so little of it?
One of the main reasons given is that people claim to not know how to pray. The issue with our praying is typically found in the notion that we only know how to petition pray. When we're done talking about what we need and mentioning the few other needs that we remember from others, we're through. The problem with this is that God simply becomes a Santa Claus figure receiving our orders with an expectancy to fill them and to fill them quickly. Prayer was designed first and foremost for communion with God. Prayer is the door in which we have access to our Heavenly Father through the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Prayer is a privilege and should radiate out of a heart in love with the Lord. Like calling a friend on the phone, going on a date with a significant other, or writing a letter to a close friend, prayer connects us with God for relationship and growth. Prayer empowers the pray-er to wage war against the enemy. Prayer must become a priority in these last days like never before.
It is with these thoughts and realities that I've put together the initial phase of what I believe will be an ever increasing ministry for our church.
1. We will seek to launch a prayer ministry.
This prayer ministry will not be launched in the sense of other ministries. This prayer ministry will be above all others and will infuse itself with all others. This prayer ministry will be responsible for working in tandem with other ministries to promote prayer in all ages from young to old. Those involved will be commissioned with leading the charge to pray for all events, leaders, and vision completing for the church.
2. The establishment of Prayer Retreats
We will be sponsoring Prayer Retreats during the year for men, women, couples, and mixed groups. These retreats will be designed bring an individual into a closer relationship with the Lord and teach individuals how to pray and grow in the presence of the Lord. Couples retreats will be designed to teach married couples how to pray and seek the Lord together in their family.
3. The establishment of "Supper Supplications"
Leaders in the prayer ministry will work to schedule home prayer meetings in which prayer intercessors and leaders will visit a home for a meal followed by prayer, intercession, and blessings over the home and family.
4. The scheduling of weekly, bi-weekly, and quarterly prayer meetings
Opportunity for corporate prayer will be made available on a regular basis for all during an off night during the week. These prayer meetings will be led by leaders of the prayer ministry. These prayer meetings will be time for all who desire to come together to pray, intercede, and agree together for needs in the lives of individuals, the church, community, and nation.
5. We will participate with the Church of God Prayer Movement's major events during the year
The Church of God promotes "Great Days of Prayer" at the beginning of each quarter. These days are designed to draw attention to the need for God's presence and provision in the upcoming quarter. These days may also be specifically themed to pray for certain things. We'll promote the "Seek God for the City" movement as well as that seeks to launch prayer warriors to begin praying for souls to be saved and for the blessings of God to be upon the city. We'll also participate in the Prayer Saturation movement which seeks to saturate our kids and youth as they enter back into school from summer break as well as other things.
These are just a few of items associated with our prayer initiative. I believe it will continue to expand as the Lord leads, but I know that as prayer becomes a foundational element to our church and parishioners, we will see greater things than we've ever seen, and we will experience the Lord in deeper ways than ever before.
Stay tuned for more information on Free Point's prayer initiative and soon coming prayer ministry.