Sunday, July 21, 2024
Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsHEALTHY CHURCH: 40 Days of Unceasing Prayer

HEALTHY CHURCH: 40 Days of Unceasing Prayer

In The Presence Centered Church, our good friend Bill Elliff quotes his mentor Manley Beasley as saying, “The mark of a godly man and the mark of a godly church is that everything they do is God-initiated.” Bill states, “Everything flows from the presence of the Lord. Everything.” More importantly in John 5:30, Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own initiative.” Paul instructs us in I Thess. 5:17 to “Pray without ceasing” and in Eph. 6:18 he exhorts us to offer “all prayer” at “all times” with “all perseverance” and to pray for “all the saints.” We know the priority placed on prayer, but is it our priority?

In Luke 6:12, Jesus went off to the mountain to pray… all night! To this Bill said, “I have often wondered about our arrogance about this. If the Son of God needed extended hours with the Father, how do we think we could otherwise and minister effectively?” Pardon me for a minute, while I repent. Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God states, “It was prayer that set the agenda for Jesus’ ministry. Prayer preceded the miracles… Prayer brought Him encouragement… Prayer enabled Him to go to the cross… Prayer kept Him there…Follow the Savior’s example, and let your time alone with God, in prayer, set the agenda for your life.” And your church!

How is the prayer culture in your church? Most churches have multiple ministries such as worship, preaching, teaching, children and youth, men and women, missions, etc. What about a prayer ministry? And if you do have one, how is that going? Usually, it is off to the side and “peripheral” at best. It is usually quite small or even non-existent in far too many churches. Bill stated, “Prayer is not a side room… it is foundational.” Remember, there are 650 passages on prayer in the Scriptures, including Hannah, Nehemiah, Daniel, Paul and, of course, Jesus praying for us in John 17.

How do you determine what you will and will not pursue as a church? Is it decided by how you have always done what you do? Is it decided by what other churches are doing that seems to be “working?” Is it decided by the latest fad, conference or book? Please note that there are many wonderful conferences and books that can help us tremendously. One author and conference leader said, “I observed firsthand how the right tool, at the right time, can change the trajectory of a church leader’s calling.” Jesus said clearly that He only did and said what the Father told Him to do and speak.

The greatest determination of how your church should pursue its unique calling in its unique setting is the Word of God and making sure everything is God-initiated. In Psalm 27:4, there was one thing David desired — to dwell in the Lord’s presence. He was far from perfect, but we are told continually that he asked the Lord what he should do before he did it. Psalm 78:72 says this about David, “He shepherded them with a pure heart and guided them with his skillful hands.” David was a man who led with character and capabilities, seeking the Lord every step of the way. His objective was to make sure everything was God-initiated.

One tool you might want to consider is Bill’s Prayer with No Intermission — 40 Days of Unceasing Prayer. This is a 40-day campaign your church can utilize to return back to the foundation of prayer. This is a wonderful way for your church to recommit to prayer and to provide a way for everyone to get on the same page about hearing from God. The goal is for everyone to dramatically increase their intimacy with God. This intentional well-planned six-week journey includes a printable small group leader guide, along with six videos of Bill Elliff teaching the main truth every week.

There are many ingredients to help every participant get the most out of this experience:

• Read the daily SOAP Bible passage.

• Read the daily chapter in 40 Days with No Intermission.

Commit to the “Pray It In” action points at the end of each chapter.

Join a Connection Group to make the journey together.

• Attend all the worship services that will reinforce the book and the small group time.

• Pray deeply about your prayer life and the prayer life of your church. When God speaks to you, put down the book and pray.

• Expect God to do great and mighty things in your midst as you seek Him and He responds to your prayers.

Make sure the whole church is going through this experience together. You can even have the children memorize the Lord’s prayer during this time as they learn the six crucial parts of prayer — Adoration, Alignment, Access, Assessment, Armor and Acknowledgement. See Bill’s book, Simply Prayer for more information on this.

Another thing we have done is created a prayer room, providing a schedule when it is open and times when there is a leader present to lead in intentional prayers for the spiritual and physical needs that are continually with us. There are prayer guides and a whiteboard for prayer requests to be listed.

Oswald Chambers put it this way: “Prayer is not a preparation for work, it is work. Prayer is not a preparation for the battle, it is the battle. Prayer is two-fold — definite asking and definite waiting to receive.” Bill said, “Unceasing prayer! We talk about prayer, know we should pray, and encourage others to pray, but don’t pray. We fail to understand that the Word of God and prayer are God’s primary means of communion with Him… Apparently, God thinks we need to pray with no intermission.” Consider how you might increase your prayer life and increase the prayer culture in your church and ministry. 

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