We have recently embarked on what I consider one of the most important elements of everything that will happen here in the next few years. I am talking about our 40 Days of Prayer. It is easy to overlook the importance of prayer in a world that measures productivity with graphs, charts, and reports, but I hope that those of us who follow Jesus will during this time find a renewal of our belief in and reliance on God through our prayer relationship with him.
I have to admit that I often have to be reminded of the importance of prayer. One of the most potent reminders for me as pastor comes from the book of Acts when the apostles were busy teaching the word and ministering to the legitimate needs of the widows, who are always so important to God. In Acts 6, we read:
The Twelve summoned the whole company of the disciples and said, "It would not be right for us to give up preaching the word of God to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6.2-4 CSB, emphasis added).
If the apostles saw their need to spend time in prayer over other worthwhile activities, how much more do I need to spend time with God! And we also see in Acts that all of the people in the church were "devoted to prayer" (see Acts 2.42).
Why have 40 Days of Prayer? Why not 365 Days of Prayer? (I am so grateful for all of the positive feedback so far, including some wondering why not have a prayer prompt every day!) This forty-day period is not in lieu of other prayer; it is simply a special emphasis on prayer. The short devotional each day and the guided prayer time will hopefully remind us all of the need for daily prayer and will bring revival in our hearts as a church. Through this emphasis we are especially seeking God's wisdom for our church in the days ahead. We are distributing notebooks that include a Prayer Guide for your future use. (While the first batch has been exhausted, we are preparing more.)
When I came to here, I told you that I would spend the first six months getting to know the church and the community. At that time, I said that I expected that we would spend time seeking God's vision for the future and making strategic plans for the next few years. We have put a Vision Team together and have begun to meet. You have had various opportunities for input, including the Vision Banquet and the Congregational Conversations. We are dreaming together and planning together under the direction of the Lord. A vital step in this process is prayer! By spending these forty days in concentrated prayer, I am convinced that we will be more able to hear the voice of God and more open to obeying the voice of God. I hope that you are participating in our 40 Days of Prayer. We can still get you a copy; we are at the half way point right now.
Another prong to our 40 Days of Prayer will be a Prayer Walk of the community on Saturday, February 17. We will meet in the Worship Center at 9:30 a.m. and make street assignments. All you are asked to do is walk down the street and pray silently as you pass people and homes!
It is an exciting time to be part of Ancient City Baptist Church! This is certainly true for our family. I hope that you have a similar sense that God is renewing us, showing us his love, and preparing us anew to be his body in this place so that he can effectively minister throughout the St Augustine community. May God bless you throughout this 40 Days of Prayer!