New Year, New Kind of Prayer
This past Sunday – New Year’s Day – we kicked off a series that kicks us off in looking forward to God’s future for Central Baptist Church. Where is God leading us? What is God calling us to do? What’s next for Central? Or, as Nehemiah puts it,
what is God putting on our heart to do for the world around us?
As I said on Sunday, God places this ‘vision’ on our hearts, as he did for Nehemiah, when like Nehemiah, what’s broken ‘out there’ (in the world) breaks what’s ‘in here’ (us and our hearts) – which also breaks what’s ‘up there’ (God’s heart). It’s from this dynamic that God wants us to do something about it, in partnership with and service to God. But what is that thing for us?
We most likely won’t have the answer to this question for some time, but thanks to Nehemiah, we know our first step: pray.
Nehemiah’s prayer is beautiful. You should take a moment to read it today. Maybe even right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Ok, did you read it? In it, he acknowledges God’s relentless love and readiness to hear our prayers. He prays on behalf of a broken people who he hasn’t even really ever met. He prays for them, not as if he’s better or above them, but because he counts himself as one of them – in solidarity with them – AND in responsibility for them.
I’ll say that again: he prays for broken people he’s never met, out of responsibility for them.
He chooses to make their brokenness his burden.
This is where vision begins to make itself clear: when what’s broken ‘out there’ breaks what’s ‘in here’.
For Nehemiah, the vision of what to do was obvious: to rebuild the city walls and gates that had been broken. For us, the vision of what to do is not so obvious – so we have to pray for it.
I think this is the most important work we can do in this season of our life together as a church.
I ask you to begin to pray for it, in earnest, with me. In your individual prayer time with God, as well as when we gather in groups of 2 or more.
Pray for God’s vision to take shape in our heart and mind. Pray for us to see the brokenness around us. Pray for us to feel that burden. Pray for clarity. Pray for inspiration, for direction, for wisdom, for success. Pray for me. Pray for our deacons. Pray for God to send the right people to join us in this vision. Pray for our future. Pray for God to do a mighty thing in us and through us. Pray, as Jesus taught us, for His Kingdom to come right here on earth as it is in heaven, and pray for our part in it.
This is the kind of prayer that ought to occupy us as we look forward. We’re going to talk more about this kind of vital prayer in the coming weeks, but I’ll give you something extremely practical to get you started:
Take a moment to reflect on some pocket of brokenness around you. It could be an individual person, a family, a relationship, a particular place of pain in the world, a specific situation you know of, a systemic failure, or really anything in between. Just pick one. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Then, very simply,
pray for that person, place, or thing, and then,
pray for God to give you eyes to see how we might be a part of healing that kind of brokenness.
For now, that’s it. This is how we’ll begin to pray for God’s vision for Central together. Please join me.