During this period of prayer and study there are many things I have found really helpful. A few of these require some degree of culture change in me and in our local church setting.
It is not that these things are bad or wrong, rather that with some adjustment, they can be so much more conducive to how the Lord would want them to be. One of these is the issue of prayer.
Robert Murray McCheyne noted in his diary of February 23rd ‘Rose early to seek God and found him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company? The rains are over and gone. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.’
He also wrote to a young man who was training for ministry ‘Never see the face of man till you have seen his face who is our life, our all.’
These two quotes are examples of the need for our lives to be so devoted and focused on maintaining close fellowship with the Lord above all else. Prayer and seeking his face should be a constant like the earth constantly rotating around the sun.
|An unusual pull to be in God’s presence
I have read recently also Paul Yonggi Cho’s classic book ‘Prayer – the key to Revival’. People like Cho and McCheyne I guess are stimulating me yet further to a more radical culture change in my approach to life and ministry. I have felt for some time a somewhat unusual pull to be in God’s presence more. Sometimes my prayers seem like ‘treacle’ and my head feels ‘dull’. But nonetheless I cannot get away with the fact that I am feeling more and more that I want to be in his presence enjoying fellowship with him, not just for my own sake but for his.
Also in that context the recognition that ‘making my requests known to God’ in fervent and persuasive prayer is going to be far more effective than all my limited words and actions in the many situations daily presenting themselves to me and requiring attention and solution, which most of the time I have no ability to bring about.
I noticed also this Friday morning at our church prayer breakfast and then again in the first of our two services today ‘sparks’ of fervent prayer. Seeking God for revival and calling on him to move. Could this be the first raindrops of something?
I am told by culture change experts that a culture takes around 7 years to change and that the benefits of change must outweigh and be more attractive to view than the reasons for staying as you are.
The greatest challenge so far?
I am convinced that I face the greatest challenge of leadership skill I have come up against so far. I have read many books about the challenge of leadership to build a big church, a multi million pound building project, multiply cells, see breakthrough in the community, money, youth etc. Being a leader who brings breakthrough in the culture of prayer in a local church to my mind in the west anyway seems a bigger challenge than all of these and actually one more worthwhile when you think about it, as all those other things becomes much easier when God is doing them in response to prayer.
I suppose they could have built a bridge or ship to get across the Red Sea. Much easier to let God do it in response to faith!
It is a challenge to bring change in myself and a challenge to bring change in us as a church: to become a praying church rather than a church with a prayer meeting. This change is not about program or encouragement or about recruiting more people ‘keen’ on prayer. No this is a fundamental culture change and what is more it can only come about by a mantle of prayer coming upon us from heaven and by us then stewarding this rightly and responding to the activity of the Holy Spirit.
We start by asking God to put his mantle on us that prayer might become to us like oxygen and become the air that we breathe not as an event but as a lifestyle. We start by asking God to help us ‘be transformed by the renewing of your minds’.
Even the fact I feel more and more stirred on these matters I take to be the activity of God stirring me in the first place ‘without me you can do nothing’ Jesus said and Jesus meant.
Well anyway I have some ideas for the next steps in this and I actually think it could become quite an exciting journey for us all.
Help us Lord! Have mercy on us that we might so see a culture emerge in our local church and I might see the same in my own life that the quite extraordinary manifestation of the fervent passionate praying of God’s people becomes ‘normal’ amongst us.