As your service coordinator, two thoughts have caught my attention lately.
The first is a thought from Martin Luther. I’ve been reading his book, A Simple Way to Pray, and in it he writes: “We must see to it that we do not lose the habit of prayer and deceive ourselves into thinking that other kinds of things are more important, when they are not.”
The second thought is from Dr. Ed Stetzer as he spoke at our Annual Gathering in October. Ed reminded us that twice in the twentieth century, a pandemic of some sort, along with social upheaval, has been followed by a spiritual awakening. The first time was when the Great Awakening followed the influenza pandemic and World War I in 1918-1920. The second was when the Hong Kong flu pandemic and the civil rights and Vietnam protests and riots in the late 1960s were followed by the Jesus People Revolution which impacted millions for the kingdom of God. With these in mind, he encouraged us to be alert and to be ready to engage the cultural moment that lies before us as we navigate our own season of pandemic and social unrest. He exhorted us to view it as an opportunity to continue the mission of the gospel to make Christ known.
Combining those two thoughts together is encouraging me to see that one of the ways we can engage the cultural moment before us, is to pray. And that is exactly how we will begin 2024 as an international association of churches. We are calling all of our members to participate in our annual Three Days of Prayer on January 2-4.
Each congregation or person can structure these days of prayer however seems best. In the past, some congregations put together a prayer vigil – people signing up to pray in 30-minute intervals – perhaps for all three days or a few hours each day. Others have offered a prayer service at a set hour on each of the three days. Some have encouraged their people simply to pray at work, home, or school, wherever they are, and whatever they are doing.
Like last year, I am encouraging us all to use the Lord’s Prayer as Martin Luther did. Luther tells us in his book, A Simple Way to Pray, that he prayed the Lord’s prayer, and then used it as an outline to pray for friends, congregations, and leaders. Praying the Lord’s prayer as an outline can give form to our prayers while providing space for us to pray according to each petition for the churches or people we are focused on that day.
As Luther did, pray each petition one at a time, then pause and pay attention to what comes to mind. Then pray out of those thoughts or impressions. For instance, pray “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” and pause. Then pray words and thoughts of thanks to God for being your Father, for His love, and for His goodness toward you. Glorify His name in prayer.
Then pray the second petition, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and pause. Think of how you would love to see God’s love and power break in on those you are praying for, and then pray for them. Pray for relationships, emotions, or bodies to be healed. Pray for someone to become aware of God’s love for them. Pray for peace in someone’s life or in a region. And so on. Continue to pray each petition one at a time, pausing to listen to thoughts, scriptures, and impressions that come to mind, and then pray for that church, or that person.
No matter how you structure this time of prayer, let’s come together as an international association of congregations across the U.S. and around the world to pray. Check out our Three Days of Prayer Resources page to download a sample guide and find out how to follow along with us on social media during each of the three days.
With that said, let us pray:
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Lord, give us eyes to see and a willingness to engage the cultural moment before us in prayer and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, do whatever you need to do in us, so you can do whatever You want to do through us.
Lord, through us, please impact others with Your love and Your power.
Lord, make true, in our hearts, our minds, and our lives what is true in Your Word.
Father, enable and equip us to engage the cultural moment before us, that we might continue to carry out the mission of the gospel to make Christ known.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
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