One of the greatest quotes by a U.S. President was made by John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address:
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
We can apply this to our church: Ask not what your church can do for you. Ask what you can do for your church.
I suppose this can sound pretty self-serving, especially coming from a pastor. And you might be thinking, “Okay, now comes the big guilt speech on getting me to serve more or give more!”
But I’m not even going to go there. I want to focus on “asking.” Not just asking what we can do for our church, but asking God what He can do for our church.
Specifically, I want to encourage prayer for our churches.
I think, for many of us, our prayer life is directed to our own personal needs or the needs of those we love. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. The Bible invites us to cast our cares onto God (2 Peter 5:7) and to intercede on behalf of others. But I want to ask a question:
Do you pray for your local church? Do you ask God for His blessings on your community of faith? Do you pray for your church to be fruitful in accomplishing the vision and mission God has given to you all?
I feel very personally convicted about this. I pray a lot. I pray for my ministry a lot. I pray for people in my church a lot. But I haven’t prayed for specifically God to work out His will powerfully in and through my church – in general. I just kind of assume that “church” things just happen on their own; that enough volunteers will will be raised up, that enough resources will be provided, that the community will be reached. And if things don’t happen, it’s up to the other leaders or the Senior Pastor to figure it out.
But if the local church is my church, then I should be praying regularly for my church – that God would direct my church’s leaders, that God would bless my church, that God would provide for my church, and that God would help my church to grow in breadth and depth.
So I decided to do something about it… (big breath) … I am committing one hour a week to pray specifically for my church, for CBC. And I’m inviting you to do the same for your church. (And if you go to CBC, you can join me Saturday mornings at CBC’s Worship Center to pray from 7am-8am.)
I wonder what would happen if, instead of complaining about church or leaving church when they get disgruntled, that church members would first pray for their church? I wonder what would happen if we came before the throne of God, asking Him to empower, direct, provide for, and grow our church – His church? What would happen if 5, 10 or 100 people interceded for their churches just 30 minutes every week? (I wonder what would happen if pastors prayed for their churches at least one hour a week??) What do you think would happen?
I know what would happen: God STUFF! Stuff that only God can do!
E.M. Bounds once said that the only way God’s people advance the Kingdom of God is … on our knees. Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle.
So I’m looking for fellow comrades who will lift up their local church regularly in prayer. Will you join me?