Today we have more than enough activity but less than enough praying in the church today.
Today we have more than enough hearts distracted by many things and less than enough hearts that live with the solitary focus of approaching God in prayer.
I do not say this to make us feel guilty, but to challenge us to live the teaching of Scripture that leads to abundant life.
Prayer was one of the chief characteristics of Jesus’ life, and so it should be of our lives as well.
Prayer is the means by which Jesus faced the struggle — whether tempted in the wilderness, agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane, or in the Passion upon the Cross — and it must also be our means for staying alert in the struggles of life.
Prayer is hard work –- it requires discipline and diligence. Yet prayer is also joyful work –- it leads us into the presence of the God who loves us and holds the world.
Prayer is overwhelming –- we stand before the Holy God of the universe with the burdens of the world upon us and the onslaughts of the evil one against us. Yet prayer also brings peace -– we know that we approach a God who hears us and cares for us, who holds the world together even as we lift the world’s needs up to Him, and who has won the victory over sin, evil and death upon the cross.
Prayer is something that takes us beyond ourselves while simultaneously helps us to find ourselves in the presence of God.
Prayer takes us around the world in intercession even as we are able to “be still and know” that the Lord is God.
Prayer is something that we mature in over the course of our lives, and yet we are ever and always beginners at prayer.
Will you join me in learning to pray, even as the disciples said to Jesus: “Lord, teach us to pray”?
Will you step forward in the face of the struggle in your personal lives, and with others, to learn the pathways of prayer?
Will you bring the needs the needs of the world into the presence of God through intercessory prayer, groaning with God over humanity and the entire cosmos?
Let us join Jesus’ first disciples in saying today: Lord, teach us how to pray.
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I concluded our series on prayer, “Great Prayers of the Bible“, by looking at two significant themes on prayer from the book of Revelation. The entire message was built around the idea of praying with the end state of prayer in mind. Basically, if we want to “begin with the end in mind,” what might that mean in the domain of prayer as we live daily toward the end state of prayer as depicted in the book of Revelation.
This has been a wonderful series throughout our Summer of Prayer at Eastbrook, and I’d encourage you to return to some of the earlier messages if you did not have the chance to view them. You can view this message video and the sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.
Last week at Eastbrook Church, we hosted a 24-7 Prayer Room on our campus. This is not an original idea to us, but something many of us have experienced in other settings, such as the 24-7 Prayer Movement or the International House of Prayer. When I was the Pastor of Collegiate Ministries with Elmbrook Church, running The Ave, a multi-campus ministry to college students in urban Milwaukee, one of our interns, Samantha, spurred us to do something similar downtown in the Big Red Church. It was a really stretching experience for the students and for me.
As we entered into the summer of prayer here at Eastbrook this year, I wanted to do something like this with our church. Similarly to what we did with college ministry, the team working with our 24-7 Prayer room structured it around the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) as a means to organizing the room into stations at which people could pray individually or together. Each of the stations had active and reflective elements to it, allowing people of all ages to engaged physically in responding to God in some way.
The theme for July in the summer of prayer was “Praying with Others.” While I often saw clusters of people and small groups praying together in the prayer room, the prayer room could also be utilized as an individual experience of prayer. As the week continued, however, the sense of being in this with others became more and more clear as people added their own words of praise, confession, gratitude, and need to the interactive elements. I couldn’t help but think of the words in Hebrews 12:1-2:
Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus
You can see both the guiding statements for each of the four stations, as well as the interactive elements below.