Posted by: pastortomvabeach | May 28, 2014

Thought for the Week June 1, 2014

I don’t know if you have experienced any of the “perils” Rev. Henderson shared that arise whenever God’s people get serious about prayer. I’m pretty certain that I have, at least, experienced the first one, “satanic counter-attack”. It almost happens with certainty that whenever I decide I’m going to up my prayer discipline, something comes up to slow, to distract, or to stop me. If you’re anything like me, when the initial attempts to get more serious about prayer are thwarted, it seems like I lose my steam. Knowing it’s going to happen can be a major boost to help us to plow through the counter-attacks and reach a new level of commitment and seriousness in our prayers.

Here are the remaining “Prayer Perils” from Rev. Daniel Henderson:

“4. Expect methodological dissonance – Prayer is a bold declaration that the Holy Spirit is still ‘the how-to’ of faith and ministry. Sadly, we live in method and program dependent church culture. We love to emulate the strategies of other successful mega-churches. Some leaders find security in this predictable and ‘proven’ path of ministry agendas. The call to extraordinary prayer will often be met with subtle disagreement by those who find it more compelling to serve the Lord than to seek the Lord.

“Of course, we have more ministry tools today than ever before. There is nothing wrong with the tools – but there is a difference between USING the tools and DEPENDING on the tools. The prayer level of the church is the acid test of which one we are doing. This can be a hard pill to swallow for hyperactive and over-programmed ministry establishments.

“5. Expect leadership transition – Many volunteer and staff leaders in a church are content to ‘support’ the prayer efforts as long as there are no specific expectations for their personal involvement. During my decades as Senior Pastor, staff members would often ask, ‘Do I have to come to the prayer gatherings?’ My answer was standard and clear, ‘I don’t want to “make you” come to prayer but if you don’t “want to” then we need to have a conversation.’ If the priority of prayer is clear in the Bible, and the obvious direction of the church, then those called by God should have a desire to journey forward in obedience the Lord. If this is not in their heart, they eventually transition to succeed in another role or ministry with different expectations. Difficult as it is, unity prevails and blessing follows.

“6. Expect slow advancement – I often remind myself and others that a prayer culture is more a ‘crock pot’ than a ‘microwave.’ Experts on cultural change all agree that it only happens through constant, relentless pressure over a long period of time. By grace and the supply of the Spirit, we need to resolve that we will pursue the Lord and His blessing through prayer until the day we die. This is our calling. It is not easy but definitely worth it.

“7. Expect personal discouragement
– I define discouragement as a ‘temporary loss of perspective.’ In the midst of focusing on the ‘trees’ of weekly prayer ministry it is easy to lose sight of the ‘forest’ of transformed lives and powerful Gospel advancement.

“So, in spite of the perils, be encouraged my friend. Yes, the world, the flesh and devil oppose all attempts to embrace extraordinary prayer. As John Piper says, ‘Until you know that life is war you cannot know what prayer is for.’ We must continue to fight the winning fight in the power of the Spirit, through passionate, persevering prayer. He is worthy. We are needy. The single great need of the world today is Jesus Christ living through a REVIVED church. Therefore, we must pray.”

The last paragraph is extremely encouraging. We haven’t experienced any leaders reluctant to pray but we are definitely advancing slowly. That’s one of my biggest areas of discouragement. I am so impatient. I want our entire church, me included, to become powerful prayer-motivated movers and shakers in the spiritual realm – right now! Again, knowing that this is something that is slow developing and takes determination and a “We won’t quit” attitude, helps me to slog through because I do see good things happening. We see church members stopping to pray with one another; we hear miraculous answers to prayer; and we see God shaping a people into those He can use to change the world. This only comes by prayer.

So be encouraged, friends. One of our core values is that we are “Prayer Intensive”. This means we intend to cultivate and promote a lifestyle of prayer in every facet of our church body. We are not all the way there but we are moving in that direction. Have you run into any of the perils listed here today or last week? That should tell you one encouraging thing – you are upsetting the enemy! He’s trying to slow or stop you. Stand up, keep praying, we win in the end! Thoughts to ponder and pray about!

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