Saturday, March 15, 2008

Prayer That Changes Chruches

San Diego, CA

February 27-28, 2008

>>>The following is a recap of my "Prayer That Changes Churches" workshop by San Diego prayer leader Thomas Bush . . .

We gained new insights into God’s work among His people as Rev. Phil Miglioratti challenged us to change the leader, list, and location of our praying during the “Prayer That Changes Churches” worship and prayer services in February.

Pastor Phil reminded us that the Holy Spirit is the One Who leads us into all truth and discloses the Father’s heart to us. (John 16:13-14) What a difference it would make if we followed the lead of the Holy Spirit during our prayer meetings!

Next, Phil talked about our prayer lists. Pastor Phil acknowledged that our lists contain many “good” things to pray about, however, he asked an important question about our lists: If God answered all the prayer requests on our lists, would it make a difference in our communities? Of course, we would all rejoice at healed bodies and comforted hearts, but would God’s purposes for our world be fulfilled?

After all, as Pastor Phil shared, two of God’s purposes for answering prayer are: that His purposes would be fulfilled and that He would be glorified. In order to pray more in concert with God’s purposes, Pastor Phil suggested that we pray “across our prayer lists” rather than “down our prayer lists.”

As Pastor Phil described, if we only pray “down” our prayer lists, we can end up spending our prayer time simply informing God about our problems. On a personal level, this could give us the idea that our prayer times are all about us, and not about what God wants. As a prayer group, at the end of a prayer time like this, we could come away feeling emotionally drained, even slightly depressed as if the sum of our lives and the lives of those around us consisted only of problems.

Instead, Pastor Phil suggested that we pray “across” our prayer lists to help us keep in mind God’s intention for prayer. How do we do that? By adding 2 words to our prayers: “SO THAT.”

Imagine that our prayer lists have 3 columns. Column 1 contains our prayer requests. Columns 2 and 3 are added to our prayer list to remind us of God’s purposes in answering prayer. Column 2 reminds us that God is committed to fulfilling His purposes in the lives of those being prayed for. Column 3 reminds us that God’s ultimate goal in answering prayer is to glorify Himself.

So, rather than praying “Lord, I pray that you would heal my pastor,” and then going to the next prayer request, we could pray: “Lord, I pray that you would heal my pastor, “so that” he will fulfill the purpose you created him - to preach the gospel “so that” you will be glorified in bringing the lost to Yourself.”

Making these changes causes us to focus on God’s purposes and promises rather than our problems. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” By focusing on God’s purposes, we get on God’s agenda for answered prayer rather than asking God to get on our agenda.

In addition, Pastor Phil challenged us to add requests to our prayer lists for our neighborhoods that reflect the kingdom purposes of God. How would the items on our prayer lists change if they were motivated by what is on the heart of the Father? He questioned whether the condition of our communities is related in part to our churches not praying the prayers that are on God’s heart for them.

Finally, Pastor Phil advocated that we change the location of our prayers. He correctly identified that most of our prayer time is spent in “holy huddles” (with other believers inside the church building) away from the places in our communities where the Lord wants to make His presence known. He strongly recommended that we “get out of our seats” and “into the streets” so that the Lord can give us insights into how to pray for the lost and for our communities as we prayerwalk, setup “prayer stations,” visit schools, etc., and pray the prayers that are on God’s heart wherever we go.

May the Lord use this message from the man of God to motivate us to be churches that are changed as we pray those things that are on the heart of God, as led by the Holy Spirit, according to the purposes of God and in the places in our communities where, through the Church, the manifest presence of God can have a transforming influence on our culture.

Ephesians 3:20-21:
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:10:
“so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”

Written by Thomas Bush, Prayer Coordinator, San Diego Southern Baptist Association March 14, 2008

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