Saturday, May 05, 2007

Inner~Views: Noted Author David Mains on Praying & Revival


Phil Miglioratti of the Church Prayer Leaders Network interviewed David Mains on topics ranging from a new series he has authored on prayer to issues on modern revival in our land...

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Dr. David R. Mains


CPLN: David, you were commissioned to write the material for the Presidential Prayer Team’s new series on prayer … What was it about your experience in prayer and your role in the prayer movement that prepared you for this task?

DRM: As you know, Phil, the Presidential Prayer Team has encouraged hundreds of thousands of people take to heart the scriptural injunction to pray for our nation’s leaders. With this series their desire was to expand that number through raising up potential prayer warriors by helping those who struggle with prayer in general. I’m not sure why they came to me with this assignment, but I was honored to be asked and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

CPLN: What are you pointing toward in the title “Making Prayer Your Second Language”?

DRM: For a lot of people the language of prayer doesn’t come all that easily. Especially that’s the case when they judge how they sound compared to say their minister’s smooth Sunday morning invocation. For them, learning to pray is almost like learning to speak Spanish or French, where early attempts can be quite intimidating. This series is an effort to make people comfortable with the basics of prayer.

CPLN: You based “Making Prayer Your Second Language” on the ACTS format … How does an understanding of these four types of prayer help increase the prayer life of an individual? An entire congregation?

DRM: The ACTS format—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication—was not my choice. It was part of what I was given to work with. Words like “supplication” and even “adoration” are not commonly used by most people today. Even so, the format is a good one. In the series I often just used alternative words like “praise” and requests”. What’s positive about ACTS is that it covers four basic types of prayer and the acronym seems to stick easily in people’s minds. Beside that, it introduces three prayers—praise, confession and thanks—before coming to the one with which most people want to begin — requests or supplication. Making sure these basics are covered is always a good idea.

I’ve also found that a series like this helps not just individuals, but entire congregations come to an understanding of what adoration or praise is. Often it’s like a light is turned on in their heads and they say, “So that’s what we’re doing when we sing certain of those songs. We’re giving God our praise as a congregation.” Or “Now I understand why we as a church body say the confessional.”

CPLN: You have included a journal … How does journaling enhance the praying experience? Is it a difficult discipline; can anyone benefit from the discipline of journaling their thoughts and prayers?

DRM: Writing down our prayers is a way of concretizing what we are saying to God. It gives a form to what otherwise often seems a bit ethereal. I’m aware that being forced to write out prayers can also stifle the spontaneity of someone’s prayer life. But more often than not the exercise proves helpful to people. The problem with many folk who say they struggle with praying is that they have a hard time staying focused. I believe a simple prayer journal usually helps people with that.===>Click headline to access informaiton about this new resource by David Mains from the Presidential Prayer Team . . .

CPLN: David, you are the author and architect of some of the earliest multi-week all-church campaigns:

  • What are the benefits of an entire congregation focusing on the same topic or theme for an extended period of time?

DRM: Progress usually comes faster for people who are involved with others in their growth process. When you’re on your own it’s too easy to quit or to make excuses for your actions. Also, it usually takes about five to seven weeks to establish new habit patterns. Sometimes I think we ministers expect people to change behavior much faster than they’re really able to. So a church-wide emphasis for seven weeks, or eight Sundays with the seven weeks in between has real power. We call those 50 Day Spiritual Adventures and those materials are still available at http://www.50dayspiritualadventure.com/

CPLN:

  • Have you seen lasting results?

DRM: I can’t begin to tell you how many people have told me “thank you” for this or that discipline that became a permanent part of their life during a 50 Day Spiritual Adventure. The specific one they mention the most is learning to go on a daily God Hunt.

CPLN:

  • What are the obstacles a leader faces to implement such an approach?

DRM: Obstacles can always come from those people who are resisting change for one reason or another. They usually don’t say, “I’m resisting change in my life and that’s why I don’t like this series.” Instead they will say something like, “I’m not in favor of cookie-cutter programs” or whatever takes the spotlight off of their resistance to what’s happening. But over the years I have heard a huge number of positive comments expressed compared to a relatively small number of negative ones.

CPLN: David, you have studied the history of revival and authored a revival study Bible --- Agree or Disagree: Most Christian leaders believe we are in desperate need of a nation-wide revival, for which many of us are praying, but if we expect it to look like revivals of America’s past, we might fail to see authentic revival released in new and unexpected forms.

DRM: A recent Life Way survey revealed unrest on the part of many church goers. The findings indicated a considerable bit of church switching due to what was called a mix of dissatisfaction and yearning. Now I personally see these as positives.

Step one to any kind of revival movement is a deep-seated sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are. People who are already satisfied with life seldom aspire to something more, so I’m glad if there’s a restlessness going on.

Such feelings or yearnings for more than meager fare have a tendency to go in one of two directions. The first is a negative bent and results in a carping or complaining spirit. That doesn’t lead to anything good. But in the past, spiritual hunger has also been the catalyst for sweeping movements of prayer. It’s telling the Lord how inept we are without his hand blessing what goes on and that the day is getting desperate. To my knowledge there is presently no widespread indication that a powerful movement of prayer has begun, but it’s what has marked all past authentic movements of revival.

In response to the form revivals take, as you have indicated, they vary greatly. But I would suspect that such a movement would start with younger people because that’s happened repeatedly in the past. It’s also why younger people are so important in our churches. And my guess is that confession would play a bigger part in what unfolds even than preaching does.

CPLN: David, please write a prayer for pastors and prayer leaders who want to see prayer become the second language of their life and their congregation.

DRM: Dear Jesus,
We really aren’t all that different from your early disciples who very much wanted to be taught the secrets of the amazing communication you have with your father. Help us please to clear away all the competing voices of this culture that prohibit us from spending quality time both sharing our hearts with you and hearing you share your heart with us. The truth is that we are dissatisfied with the level of our spirituality. We don’t experience your presence the way we would like … not individually or corporately. Before we die please let us be a part of another great awakening in this land, for our sake, but for yours as well.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen

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