Prayer as a Way Forward
In our first episode of The Titus Roundtable, treating Jesus as “Lead Pastor” meant truly believing who He was, what He did, and what He said. We are then ready to advance as a congregation through prayer. If a congregation is to be led by Jesus, they must meet with Jesus. Truly successful families and ministries eagerly meet with Jesus as a community. No leader expects to move his cause forward without some kind of team meeting. Whether an executive business leader or middle school football coach, practice, films, and TED talks are all a part of the way forward.
Is it wrong or somehow disrespectful to engage prayer as a way forward? I might say here that if prayer is to be a way of advance, we must get it out of the graveyard and put it in its rightful place. I have a friend named Harold Vaughan with Christ-Life Ministries who titles his large prayer meetings as a “Prayer Advance.” Previously I had mostly heard meetings like that called “Prayer Retreats.” Just recently I spoke at what was called a “Prayer Encounter.” We don’t want to get stuck on the name, but we do want to build on the biblical truth that God alone advances His kingdom and has ordained dependent praying as a way of taking the next right step even if it is to “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,” (Exodus 14:13-14). In this scenario when Moses was at his wits end between Pharaoh and the Red Sea and was leading a million and a half people, he moved forward by standing still, holding his peace, watching the LORD fight for him. God was his way forward, but hearing from God let him know what to do!
Prayer is God’s way forward because:
It brings us to where He is. Are we in awe of the truth that God calls us to fellowship with Him? That should be a wow factor for us.
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,” (I Corinthians 1:9).
“…by which He made us accepted in the Beloved,” (Ephesians 1:6)
It is the first step in revitalizing a shattered church.
Again, where did Paul start in correcting the problems of the Corinthian church? He reminded them of this call to prayer right up front.
It serves to restore our first love. To the Ephesian church who had left their first love and was in danger of extinction, Jesus said, “Remember . . . Repent . . . Return,” (Revelation 2:5) That was more than progress; it was survival!
It moves us out of lukewarmness. Is it amazing to you that Jesus would invite the nauseating church at Laodicea to meet Him for dinner—indicating that moving forward out of this putrid condition could be resolved by an intimate conversation (Revelation 3:20).?
It transforms us. As we gaze at Jesus in the Word as a group, we are changed! Don’t we need to be changed? Is not our own pride and self-centeredness at the heart of all church roadblocks? Actually, testimonies of transformation become the fuel of corporate revival.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord,” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
It gives us wisdom for the next right step during times of trials. We can ask, believe, and wait until we here from Jesus.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him,” (James 1:5).
It releases God to show His approval at strategic times. “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness,” (Acts 4:31). While most of us will not experience a physical shaking of our church building as we pray, it’s not unusual for God in some unique way to show He’s on the scene and is okay with what’s going on. It truly is a fun-loving thing for us when He lets us know He’s working with us. Everybody talks about that stuff and God gets glory in our midst.
It launches us into the mission field. Prayer moves the missionary hand of God through us. When Jesus saw a plentiful harvest but only a few laborers what did He say? “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest,” (Matthew 9:38).
I’m sure you can think of some more, but these 8 will get us started. So, whether it’s the transformation of our souls toward Godlikeness or the launching of our lives into a mission—prayer is a great place to start and a great way to continue.
On a real practical note, here are a couple of ways a leader can put “praying Forward” into practice.
Build your prayer meetings around identifying the real needs of the church, choosing Scripture that relates to that need then praying it up to the Lord in agreement that we want our church to live like this Scripture truth.
For example, if you sense the need in your congregation is more love, then systematically pray I Corinthians 13 and other related passages up to the Lord. It could be anything—marriages, missions, evangelism, unity, etc. Develop the mindset of the church to pray strategically and biblically.
Depending on how your services are structured, turn our sermon outlines into prayer lists. In one service the sermon could be presented, but in a following service it could be prayed into the flock by the flock. Don’t be afraid of repetition. Give everyone a chance to prayerfully process truth.
Develop a core group who regularly meet with you to pray and discern what God is doing and then research Scriptures that apply to each situation. We must realize that only Jesus really knows what is needed and He will inform us as we seek Him.
Be creative in your application, but at the heart you will be moving people along by focusing on Scripture praying on specific topics. Keep it simple, make it fun, build a team.