I was recently forwarded a good question that was addressed during Wednesday's devotional:
In other words, how should time together in an everyone-invited, whole-Church-family prayer meeting differ from weekly Restore meetings? Here are three significant differences:
1) It is an opportunity to fellowship with those in our church family who arenâ€™t a part of our Restore family.
The elders are often asked about additional opportunities for the whole family to be together. You may not think much of it at first, but consider with me again a familiar passage in Hebrews 10.25:
The Scripture is clear: our togetherness is critical to our faith! True fellowship isnâ€™t just a Christian way of saying â€œlet's hang out.â€ It's a time for encouragement: testimonies, instruction, prayer. Anyone genuinely seeking to live the Christian life--especially anyone trying to raise a Biblically-founded family--knows how difficult it really is. It is a constant battle.
Listen to the command in Romans 12.21 givenâ€”not to individuals or small groups, butâ€”to the whole Church: â€œDo not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.â€ How is the Church supposed to overcome evil with good without being a Church? â€¦ without the absolutely-necessary encouragement that comes from true fellowship & prayer together? We canâ€™t!
So, church-wide encouragement is the first thing that makes FWPD different.
2) It is an opportunity for direction & instruction from, as well as dialogue with, our leadership.
Through a monologue at Proclaim, we are led through one passage of Truth at a time. In Restore, weâ€™re learning how to apply the Scripture to our personal lives. But what about the life of our whole church? How are the Scriptures preached on Sunday & the Scriptures studied weekdays in Restore impacting us on a church-wide scale? We may know how it affects us individually, but what effect is it having on our church family as a whole? How is the Truth impacting our leaders? How should it affect the way our deacons & elders serve? Does our constitution align with Godâ€™s Word? Are there changes that need to be made, points that need to be emphasized?
FWPD is more like one of those family meetings. Consider all the maturation our faithful Father has led us through as weâ€™ve sat under His Word and the ministry of His Holy Spirit these last six years? As we diligently pray together for His work among us, I wonder how much more sanctification He has in store? As our leaders come under conviction about necessary church-wide changes, their prayerful presentations are better made in corporate gatherings like FWPD, rather than in individual Restore meetings.
And that naturally brings us to the third & final difference I wanted to share with you. Imagine taking 30 minutes to pore over one Scripture after the next concerning God's sovereign power... or maybe discussing evangelistic efforts weâ€™re planning in the community... or maybe reading a letter or watching a video from one of our missionaries... or hearing about the next series our elders are planning for Proclaim? How better for us to respond than to move immediately into prayer together?! So, the third & most significant difference between FWPD & Restoreâ€¦
3) It is an opportunity for corporate prayer about church family concerns.
FWPD provides everyone in the church an opportunity to gather together in prayer for things that concernâ€”not one, or a few of us, as in Restore, butâ€”all of us in the Church family. In this type of gathering our prayers are focused on the spiritual health of our whole church; on church-wide evangelistic efforts in the community; on church membership concerns; on church doctrine; on church discipline; on beseeching the Spirit to work through His Word as the church gathers on Sunday mornings; and we also focus our prayers globally, for the effective ministries of missionaries supported by our church, like Pastor Dhan in Nepal.
Restore definitely has a prayer element to it, but FWPD is mainly about prayer. In fact, the preceding devotional & teaching time is really just a means of providing fodder & fuel for corporate prayer.
I wonder how many of us are satisfied with the current status of our relationship to Christ: with our desire for Him, our love for Him; our confidence in Him; our understanding of His Word, of Biblical doctrine; our courage as Christians?
I wonder how much of our relationship with Him suffers simply from a lack ofâ€¦ prayer? Iâ€™ve noticed one thing that really helps my private prayer life: sincere, Christ-adoring, face-of-God-seeking, corporate prayer.
In closing, consider with me Romans 12.9-13. After stating in v5 that â€œwe, though many, are one body in Christ,â€ the Apostle Paul commands that one body toâ€¦
My point is simply this: Paulâ€™s commands--and specifically the one to be â€œconstant in prayerâ€--were not given to individuals, or even to small groups. They were given to the members of the Church. In other words, together we are to be constant in prayer.
Donâ€™t you long for your life to be filled with more love for Christ? Donâ€™t you long for your children or grandchildren, co-workers, friends in this communityâ€¦ to know Him? Donâ€™t you long for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit upon His Church, upon this church? How I long for times of prayer together wherein all track of time is completely lost, caught up in the current of Christ.
Dear family, perhaps we should heed the words of Jesusâ€™ brother, James: â€œYou have not because you ask not.â€
So what if we did ask?! Won't you join your church family in prayer, next month at FWPD?