Here is a new ‘church growth’ strategy I’m employing: I am a cold, stubborn, introvert of a man whose personality has little mercy or compassion, generally speaking. See, now you just can’t wait to spend some time with me. If I set my unceasing sarcasm aside for a moment, the reality is simply that I am not an overly touchy-feely person. Before you start wondering how my parents treated me as a child, I will assure you they were very affectionate and still are today.
Not too long ago I taught on Romans 12:9-16 at Crossings Community. We talked about the idea of ‘harmony’ within the church. In that passage the Apostle Paul extends the big idea to those in the church to love genuinely. Later in the passage he offers some words that I have found incredibly helpful and unfortunately are some we often neglect. He says, ‘be constant in prayer.’
I’d like to share how God has brought gospel transformation in my own journey regarding this area of church life. I have a prayer routine. I have a daily prayer routine but one that looks differently on different days of the week. On any regular day of the week I will pray specifically about more urgent needs of the church as a whole as well as urgent needs of the individual families of the church. These are the needs that I have written down through various conversations and our online communication tool called The City. Then on Tuesdays and Fridays I spend considerably more time in prayer over the ongoing stories and circumstances of the families within the church. These are the days that although there may not be job loss, health issues, or relationship issues, I am praying over the spiritual lives and stories of which I am aware within those homes.
The miracle that God works in those times of prayer, whether short or extended, is an overwhelming genuine love for those whose names I have spoken during those times of prayer. The evidence of God’s miraculous work in that time is that I often find myself literally overwhelmed with emotion as I am interceding in prayer for those families. This, I believe, produces the genuine love that Paul describes. As I have prayed for very long seasons for either healing, reconciliation, or provision over a home I will find myself daydreaming at random moments about how I might react when I hear God has answered those prayers.
Maybe we put too much emphasis on common interests when we talk about the idea of community. Unfortunately we equate community with finding people who like the same hobbies or even are in a similar stage of life. These things are great, but they can also remove the supernatural work of God from the relationships of the church. It seems more accurate to think of community as a genuine love produced out of battling together through prayer on our journeys of gospel transformation.
What if the most powerful accelerant in biblical community is prayer? Are we leveraging that supernatural gift the way God desires?
Have you experienced either end of this reality? Has God used prayer to create a great relationship between you and someone else who might have little in common with you? Have you been blessed by hearing that someone else is praying specifically for you in a way that has created a genuine love in your own heart for that person? I’d love to hear your thoughts…