Recently, I attended a prayer meeting with about ten pastors from the neighborhood where I attend church. It was interesting to hear what was on their hearts as they prayed, and I would like to share some of my observances with you today.
The first conviction I had during this time was if I was being personally faithful to the Lord and His truth? (Prayer has a way of bringing things into focus, even if you don’t ask it to.) These pastors prayed about what was on their hearts, what they wanted for their communities, and for their churches.
Let me share with you some of the themes I heard that day:
• Help us to surrender
• How is Jesus modeled in me?
• Are we ready for the day of the Lord?
• Does our community know anything about our church?
• Give us hearts to pursue you, God
• Burden us with telling others about you
• Give us discernment about reaching others for Christ
• Give us the wisdom to build teams to reach our city
• Help us to know Christ better and understand our forgiveness deeper
• Give us eyes to see as you see
• We are tired and we need to be refreshed in the Holy Spirit
• Are we burdened by the cost of what it will take to bring our prayers into reality?
• Joel 2:13-14 the pouring out of God’s Spirit
• Are we listening to God’s Spirit?
• Help us be a reconciling factor in our city
This gives us a small glimpse of what is happening in the hearts of pastors in the city. They want more than anything else to bless people with the magnificence of Christ. At the end of the meeting, they talked about how they could work together this summer to fulfill some of what they prayed about earlier in the meeting. The spirit among these pastors wasn’t about churches or ministries as much as it was about bringing Christ into their neighborhoods so people could hear the Gospel of hope.
People could say the church is dead or that pastors are missing in action … which may be true in some cities and areas of the country … but it wasn’t true with these pastors in South Minneapolis. Take another look at the themes of what they were praying about and you’ll understand what it says about these pastors leading their churches.
One very remarkable characteristic of this prayer meeting was the concern for all the churches present to equally share in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for subsequent revival. There were no territorial attitudes because they saw the Church as it was described in the Book of Acts where they had all things in common.
What makes pastors think and act like this?
This has not been my normal experience with pastors’ prayer meetings. In fact, if they happen at all in a community, the attitudes often have been more about sharing the ministry success in their churches rather than praying about a transforming spirit of cooperation to reach the city for Christ. Humility, dependence, and a willingness to serve seemed to prevail at this pastors’ prayer meeting.
Perhaps something is going on in His Church today. We are perhaps seeing a resurgence of what we read in the Book of Acts where people want God more than they want the dreams marketed to them by the church culture of the day. The broader culture is what we mostly preach about, indicting it for how bad it is but we need to start seriously indicting our own church culture if we want to be right before God. I realize that is a strong statement, but most of the warnings by the Prophets and the teachings of Jesus were toward those who claimed to know God. Nothing has really changed … has it? Jesus knew how a religious culture can lead people away from God in a way that is just as evil of an act as the world does through the temptation of sin (read Matthew 23). However, I was really encouraged to hear pastors pray for God’s spirit to transform them, to bring revival to the church, repent, and change directions in their churches. I was so filled with hope to realize that there is a remnant of leaders in the church whose hearts have not been tainted by this world but have become more determined to pursue God at whatever the cost.
If pastors are praying like those in the prayer meeting I attended, then no matter what today’s statistics say there is great hope for the church!
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler