Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to pray RADICALLY for our church

In 2012, Westbury Baptist is taking THE RADICAL EXPERIMENT. We've challenged our members to:
1. Read the entire Word of God.
2. Pray for the entire world.
3. Commit to community (ie, join and attend a Sunday School class).
4. Sacrifice financially for ministry.
5. Serve in ministry outside your context.

I'm excited about the feedback I've gotten from members already this year. But I also know the human tendency to get excited about plans for personal improvement, then quickly settle back into the status quo (after all, how many of us have already given up on our New Year's diet and exercise plans?). The truth is, if revival comes to Westbury Baptist Church, it won't be because of the Radical Experiment; it will be the result of God's Holy Spirit working a miracle in our hearts. If that is true, then as important as it is for each of us to fulfill the five challenges, it is at least as important for us to pray for God to revive and renew our church. So how can we pray? A couple of weeks ago at our deacon retreat, I shared five prayer requests with our deacon body. I would love to see our entire church pray in this way. You can pray for one item each day if you like:

1. Pray that we would stick with our Bible reading. On paper, it sounds simple. Just spend 15 minutes reading 2 or 3 chapters of Scripture. If it really is the Word of God, and we really are the people of God, that should be a no-brainer, right? But anyone who has tried it knows that it takes very little to distract us from daily reading of the Word. The excuses and obstacles come at us left and right...proof of the Devil's existence, in my opinion.

2. Pray that we would gain a hunger for the things of God. When I was a kid, I didn't appreciate home-cooked food. My parents agonized over my lack of eating. But take me to McDonald's, and I would eat like a linebacker. Now, I'm the exact opposite: I will eat McD's if that's all there is, but I'll complain about it...I like GOOD food now. Why? I acquired a taste for it, and once I did, the junk food didn't taste so good anymore. The things of this world are easy to acquire and superficially satisfying. The things of God, in contrast, don't appeal to us in our human nature. But once we gain a taste for them, the things of God put the things of this world to shame.

3. Pray that we would gain a passion for God's Kingdom. This isn't just about us growing closer to God personally, as important as that is. It's also about making us more aware of--and involved in--the work God is doing around the world.

4. Pray for growth in our small group Bible Study (ie, Sunday School). Our worship attendance is strong, but it's in small group Bible study that people get the fellowship, accountability, and encouragement we need. It's also where they and their children learn how to study and apply Scripture to life. In other words, it's the backbone of our church.

5. Pray that we would begin to expect more of ourselves as a church. My prayer is that through this year, we would stop lamenting the ills of our community, and instead would become God's solution to those ills. I pray that we would stop ignoring the lostness of this world and start addressing it. In other words, I pray that we would stop seeing Westbury Baptist Church as a place we go to receive things we need, and would start seeing it as the Body of Christ, which we are privileged to participate in for His glory.

Will you join me in praying this way?

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