Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Conversational Prayer: Sloppy? Too Informal?

Who in the world is Rosalind Rinker?" I admit to asking when I read Christianity Today's list of the most influential books in 50 years of evangelicalism. CT managing editor Mark Galli defended the selection of Rinker's 1959 book Prayer: Conversing with God as number one on that list, admitting that other CT staffers had a fit when they learned of his choice.

I'd never heard of Rinker or her book, but I resonated with Galli when he blogged about how most evangelicals think of prayer as informal conversation, yet 50 years ago this was virtually unheard of. Rinker's book was a prime catalyst for popularizing informal, conversational prayer.

In two decades of youth ministry, I've heard a lot of conversational prayers to Father Weejus. You know, "Father Weejus ask that you'd be here tonight, and Weejus hope you'll really bless our time." I've heard a lot of unnecessary "justs" and "reallys" over the years, and inappropriate uses of the subjunctive mood ("We pray you would move your people and you would do your will …").

I'm all for conversational prayer. But a lot of it is sloppy, which, I'm afraid, has been bred by too much informality.

Thanks a lot, Rosalind!

Christians didn't always pray like this===>Click headline for complete article . . .

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Friday, March 23, 2007

New Prayer Minutes Posted

Praying with a List

Prayer Minute #0034
Isaiah 43:26

Do you have trouble remembering things? Personally, I need to write down what I need to do. That list not only helps me remember, but it helps in other ways too. I use lists to help me to remember what to pray for. I try to keep prayer lists handy to help me pray for others as the Lord moves me to pray. The Lord wants us to remember others, and remembering others is remembering the Lord. Is 43:26 says "Put me in remembrance."

Putting others in remembrance by praying for them is also remembering the Lord and will help bring answers to their needs, When you learn of answers to prayer, write them down! They will encourage you.

Father, help us find a way to remember the needs you want us to pray for. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Power of Prayer Partnerships

Prayer: Often Overlooked, Never Overdone

The real eternal game isn't one of guns and money. Ultimately all real change is empowered by the Holy Spirit. But where to connect the power of prayer to the daily reality of trying to help God's people work together? Here are four ideas --

1) Prayer is an essential element in the "stone clearing, sowing, and watering" -- the softening of spiritually hardened hearts -- whether that be an individual, a community, or a nation. Individuals only come into the Kingdom through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit, never through "strategy" or, certainly, manipulation. Read the full article


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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Rethinking the Role of Praise Songs in Corporate Prayer

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
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Music and worship: it's about time to get real
'A lot of song-driven worship is shapeless and wanders around until you run out of energy, and then you sit down and do the next thing on the programme.'

By John McNeil of Challenge Weekly, New Zealand / Special to ASSIST News Service

Graham Kendrick
CHRISTCHURCH ,NZ (ANS) -- British Singer-songwriter Graham Kendrick - composer of such classics as "Shine Jesus Shine" and "The Servant King" - has just toured New Zealand with American preacher Tony Campolo on behalf of TEAR Fund. In this interview he says we need to bring the reality of human struggle into our worship, an move away from song-driven services.

Kendrick: Broadly speaking, the new wave of praise and worship, which I have been a part of, has tended to emphasise the positive. Those who criticise it would say that in many ways it's triumphalist, and there is an element of truth in that. We are singing songs as if everything's wonderful; because we have Jesus life is perfect. Of course, that's not reality.

The danger is that we deny suffering and struggle, which of course the scriptures never do. I am not in any way denying the victory that there is in the Christian life, but often the victory comes through suffering. If you look at the life of the apostle Paul, he experienced tremendous suffering and privation in the cause of the Gospel, and he didn't expect to be delivered from it.

We have to find a balance in the Christian faith, and often our worship songs define our thinking. Some would claim that worship songwriters are effectively today's theologians, for better or for worse, because people learn their theology from songs.

When you look at the psalms, it's not unreasonable to look at those as a touchstone of the balance of Christian worship, and they roughly divide into 50 per cent thanksgiving and 50 per cent laments, which sounds like life to me.

Challenge: Are you suggesting to songwriters it's about time they got real?

Kendrick: I think so. I think we need to write more about struggle. I admit that when you gather people for Sunday worship you don't want to immediately plunge into the difficulties and struggles. The answer is that we focus on God, who he is and what he has done. But we need the language of lament because there are times in a local community of believers when maybe someone is sick or has died or you're praying for someone to be healed and they were not healed. We need songs which give us the language of lament. There are far too few of them.

Challenge: Many songs major on intimacy, and are akin to spiritual ear-nibbling. We have been swamped with Hillsong.

Kendrick: We have certainly had an over-abundance of intimate songs, which have given the impression to many people that worship is about achieving some sense of personal fulfilment and well-being. Now I believe that God intends that when we worship him; we do find who we are and where we belong.

But the musical genre we have borrowed from the surrounding culture for worship songs is essentially the romantic pop song, the love song. They were never really designed to carry a great deal of content.

The genre tends to work better when you talk about how you feel. That's fine, and no doubt it's a part of our worship, but we desperately need songs which simply declare who God is, and what he has done, and also cover lots of the aspects of the life of the Christian community.

We need songs we can sing in the context of a baptism, or in being part of the body of Christ, for membership, or sending people out in mission, or serving the poor.

We need songs that tell us what God is like, that cover the same sort of territory as psalms like Psalm 113, which first of all describes God who is high and above the nations and looks down on the galaxies, and then all of a sudden this same God is down in the rubbish among the poor, giving the barren woman a home. There is a picture of God we really need to sing about.

Challenge: You have said previously that even when good songs are written on a neglected subject, if they don't fit the expected ethos or style of experiential worship, they get bumped off the song list.

Kendrick: We get locked into a narrow range of style. But I think a change is coming. In Britain I am part of a group that has been gathering influential songwriters once a year. It's beginning to unpack some of these issues.

In this sort of way, we are hoping to sow some seeds among the younger writers in particular, some fresh approaches.

Most Christian songwriters just reflect the Christian culture we are in. We don't always really examine it, or what we do. We need also to be poets in the sense that a poet is a kind of prophet critiquing the norms and assumptions that the Christian community makes.

Challenge: What new trends do you see?

Kendrick: If anything, the trend is diversity, especially from the British point of view. There are an increasing number of people who are very dissatisfied with what you might call song-driven worship, where songs predominate and worship consists of 30 to 40 minutes of songs and then a sermon.

A lot of people are asking some very good questions, for instance about theology. Some are saying: 'Whatever happened to a Trinitarian understanding of worship?' It's never mentioned in our songs. There's a rich doctrine of worship in the book of Hebrews that is pretty much absent from our worship songs.

A lot of people are taking a fresh look at liturgy. I wasn't brought up with it, but I've learned to appreciate liturgy, the way it can be not only theologically precise but can take you on a journey of understanding and reorientation into relationship with God. If we just have a bunch of songs that are linked together more around the dynamics of the music rather than the content, we might get a good concert, but the journey of understanding that we have been taken on is pretty random, and often it's unresolved.

There's a shape to liturgy, whereas a lot of song-driven worship is shapeless and wanders around until you run out of energy, and then you sit down and do the next thing on the programme.

Challenge: To achieve that sense of journey, you need song and worship leaders who are trained. I fear a lot of worship leaders are either theologically illiterate or just not getting training.

Kendrick: That's true, because music has become so dominant it tends to be those with musical gifting who end up with the job of leading worship. That's good, but we need to train people in an understanding of what worship is and isn't. Otherwise the role model comes out of the performer giving a concert. That's great on some occasions, but it's not adequate for the life of the Christian community in the long term.

Courses are beginning to spring up around the world. In England, the London School of Theology for a number of years has had an excellent degree course which is a music and theology course, so people with musical gifting can combine theological studies with an emphasis on worship with studies in developing their instruments and voices. We need more of that.

I always encourage church leaders not to delegate the music

to someone, but to work together as a team. In my view, even the songs we use in the church ideally need to be chosen and agreed on by the leadership team. We should regard them as little packages of teaching, with their own emphasis.

We are all going to choose the songs we like, but whether those are the songs that will serve that congregation is another question entirely. One of the distinctives of the Christian community is that it ought to be varied, a place of coming together of age groups and people from different backgrounds and cultures. In that, there's a challenge for worship. If we want to help the whole congregation to worship, the worship leader isn't going to be able to default to their own preferred style.


John McNeil, a veteran of 40 years of newspaper and radio journalism, is South Island editor for Challenge Weekly, New Zealand's non-denominational, independent national Christian newspaper.

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24/7 Prayer - Preparing the Way for the Presence fo the Lord


“In every revival in history we read a similar testimony. When God responded to His people by sending His presence, He didn’t just work Himself into their routine religion - He overtook them by His power and glory! He left a trail of glorious chaos in His wake - weeping, repenting, rejoicing, reconciling, changing of habits, healing of families! Nobody wondered if Jesus was involved in these meetings. There was no doubt in their minds and no lack in their hearts.” Rhonda Hughey


God wants to invade our cities with His glorious and powerful presence. He wants to overtake our lives and change our plans and routines to be fully in line with His purposes. This is what is so fantastic about a month-long 24-7 prayer meeting. God begins to change you, and you begin to prioritize prayer in a way you have never done before. It begins to take center stage in your life. We experienced this at the November 24-7 House of Prayer in Spain - prayer became a priority. Everyone of us was challenged in our prayer lives as the Holy Spirit begin to reinforce the importance of prayer and the absolute necessity of corporate prayer for the region. There was a laying down of secondary priorities. We were all becoming very hungry for Jesus and His presence. We began to treasure the presence of God above all else.


“We must become hungry and thirsty for more of Jesus in our midst. We must cry out in desperation for God’s presence to be restored in our lives, our churches, and ultimately in our cities. We must treasure the manifest presence of God, because as Jesus said in John 15:5, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’” Rhonda Hughey


Steps to Developing a One-Month 24-7 House of Prayer


“The life of the church is the highest life, and its office is to pray. Its prayer life is the highest life, the most fragrant, the most conspicuous. When God’s house on the earth is a house of prayer, then God’s house in heaven is busy and powerful in its plans and movements. ‘For my house shall be called an house of prayer for all people’ (Isaiah 56:7), says God. Then His earthly armies are clothed with the triumphs and spoils of victory, and His enemies are defeated on every hand… The very life and prosperity of God’s cause - even its very existence - depend on prayer. And the advance and triumph of His cause depend on one thing: that we ask of Him.” E. M. Bounds


In starting to plan and pray towards a one-month 24-7 House of Prayer and beyond, there are several initial steps to pray and work towards. Think carefully and pray through these diligently for your city. Every city needs a House of Prayer but there always needs to be a few who start it. After our House of Prayer in Spain, my husband wrote up the following guidelines to help others. In our next letter we will give more, but this is what you should initially concentrate on applying.

  • Pray regularly and diligently for several months before the month of prayer - We, and many of the churches prayed for the month of prayer. The congregations in the location began to meet for prayer with others from outside the area. In Virginia Beach, we prayed daily for the work in Spain. And six months before the event, we began to meet for prayer every Monday evening with a group of people whom the Lord burdened to pray for the work. Many of them would eventually join us in Spain. We believe it is important to pray for prayer to be undertaken. We are now praying every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning from 5:30-7:30 for the April 24-7 House of Prayer in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and Richmond. This is an absolute necessity.

  • Build trust with local churches - The work in Spain began ten years ago. A year ago we talked about initiating a month-long prayer movement in the targeted area. Before we could do this we met with pastors, spoke in many of the churches, held training seminars and ministered in other ways. The Elijah Company had a reputation in the area of being FOR the congregations and not looking to build its own vision.

  • Find a group of pastors and leaders who will act as catalysts - Among the pastors’ fraternity there were some who acted as catalysts. The president of the group was a relater and motivator who was able to effectively share the vision.

  • Organize a good communication system - We had an excellent means of communicating. Early on, a quality website was developed (www.campo247.com). This site explained the purpose of the effort, location, whom we desired to enlist, registration information and forms, contact information and payment options for those needing such accommodations. We have also set up a website for the Virginia House of Prayer (www.Va247.org) and made several thousand attractive brochures to pass out to the churches.

  • If possible have some from other cities come and help motivate the church to pray - International participation in Spain ignited the passion in local believers. They felt that if others were willing to come at their own expense to pray for their area, the Lord must have really spoken to them. Some of those internationals were pacesetters as they modeled the effectiveness of long hours of prayer, through days and nights. The local people were encouraged to see people able to pray for long periods.

  • Write a memo of understanding for all who are involved in praying - A memo of understanding, written in English and Spanish, was attached to the website. This made it clear to locals and internationals what we expected to do and be. Some areas in the memo included: relationships (key), goals, motivation, training and equipping, types of praying, listening, doctrine, the prophetic, team praying, ministry outreach, personal support, personal time, costs, registration, medical coverage, travel arrangements, arrival and departure dates.

  • Seek God wholeheartedly and become desperate for His presence - A sense among believers that we must have the Lord or nothing will matter, is the driving force behind this kind of event. We need a sense of desperation.

We encourage you to begin now to prepare the way for God’s presence in your city. Start with increasing your prayer life and find a few others who have a vision for transformation in your city. Get together regularly, and God will lead you and add others to your prayer meetings. Transformation will occur in your lives, and you will become consumed with a hunger for God’s presence. The Lord will hear your cry for your city, and God will begin to move in your midst. It is time that we all become desperate for God and His ways. It is time that we welcome God into our cities!


“To be desperate means to be without hope in your current condition and to know that in your own power you don’t have the necessary resources required to change it. People who are desperate become determined to find help, often taking great risks to meet their desperate need. In the communities where transforming revival has occurred the people of God were desperate enough to change their lifestyle and their priorities and to commit their time and resources, making everything secondary to the desperate pursuit of God in their midst. They cried out in desperation, and the Lord heard their cry.” Rhonda Hughey


Together in the Harvest, Debbie Przybylski, Intercessors Arise
deb@intercessorsarise.org

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Handy Prayer Reminder

Five Finger Prayer

This is beautiful, and it is surely worth making the 5 finger prayer a part of our lives.

1. Your thumb is nearest you. So, begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinkie should
remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

~Author Unknown~

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