078. 7 Prayers for our Church
Message 78 of 141 in the series BuildingUp
078. 7 Prayers for our Church
In the fall of 2017, we began what has become a yearly prayer initiative called “7 Prayers for Agape”. What were the origins of this call to prayer? Why do we keep doing it each year? And why do we think it has made all the difference for our church?
Hi everyone welcome in to Episode Number 78 of the BuildingUp podcast. I’m David McConnell. As always, thank you guys for being with us.
This week’s episode of the podcast is going to be a little bit different than what we normally do, of course, we launched this podcast as a way of hoping to help people grow spiritually — Build, building up, being built up in our faith.
And so we do that by trying to see what God’s word says how we apply it to certain topics about the Christian life, or walking out our faith, or questions that people have about the Bible or specific passages. And when we launched this podcast, the idea was the primary audience would be our church Agape Church in Pinson, Alabama. But we do hope and have hoped that the Lord would allow this to reach other people. Anytime you put something on the internet, it’s accessible to anyone. And so our hope would be that other people outside of Agape would come across the podcast and would simply find it to be helpful. That’s what we want to do. We want to be helpful in people growing spiritually.
And so we, we usually record these podcasts in such a way that they’re not, you could listen to it from Agape or outside of Agape, and you could listen to it really at any time, hopefully, even years after we recorded it and still find it to be beneficial. So we don’t normally talk about things that are specifically related to our church, or specifically related to a certain time, although that’s what we’re going to be doing today on episode 78.
But my hope is that you will find things even if you are not at Agape or even if you’re listening to this at a different time than the fall of 2021, that you will still find this to be beneficial. I hope there’s some nuggets in here, so to speak some, you know, I think of mining gold out of God’s Word. And so I hope that you will find some things beneficial, even if you are not listening to it at this particular time or part of our church.
So continue on, if you will, in today’s podcast, and I hope the Lord will bring fruit from it. But what we’re talking about is our fall prayer initiative at Agape that we call simply Seven Prayers for Agape. And we are launching this fall prayer initiative again this year, and it’s going to start this Sunday, which is September, 19th. I believe that’s the date. But September 19 of 2021. That’s when we’re going to be launching this fall prayer initiative that we started back in 2017.
So I just want to give you a little bit of background on why we do this each year and why we started this and really what our aim is, in getting everyone in the church praying the same things at the same times.
So going back to the fall of 2017. Our church was in a really rough season. There wasn’t a particular reason for it. There wasn’t anything that had happened. There was no controversy, there was no public sin, there was — no leader had left, there was nothing in particular, I was on staff at our church at that time as a pastor. And we were just going through a really hard season, we were going through a difficult financial time, we were going through a difficult time with attendance and membership. And honestly, just morale, especially among the leaders, we were having a difficult time really understanding as far as this specific vision for the church where we were supposed to be, or what we were supposed to be doing in our community.
So it was just a very, very difficult time. And when I can remember actually thinking and praying and even discussing with some of the other leaders like are we even going to have a church in a year or in two years like is that where we’re headed? It was just a very difficult time. But what that difficult time did was it drove us to prayer, rather than drive us to despair or drive us away from the Lord or cause us to panic and try to in some way, fix all of these things in our own power or get frustrated at people. The grace of God overwhelmed us and lead us to just this place of desperation. As a matter of fact, if you go to Agape now you are used to hearing us talking about relying. Rely on the Lord, it’s a definitive characteristic we fill up our church at Agape, that we rely on Jesus for everything.
And really I can say I think it was birthed during that difficult season, several years ago, where we just realized, like, maybe what we should have realized all along, or it was brought to the forefront of our minds is that our very existence is dependent on God. It’s, it’s all about him. And he is going to choose whether we rise or fall exist or don’t exist.
And so we began to pray. And as part of that, we wanted to rally the church, to pray for the same things, to pray the same prayers. And so we just happened to be in the fall of that year that we were going through this tough season. And so we just, we developed a daily prayer list, seven prayers, seven days in a week, seven prayers, and we just asked the church, okay, for this fall, or this time period, we want to try to get all of us praying for the same things, the same seven things.
So every day, Monday, we’ll pray for this Tuesday, we’ll pray for this. And then the next week will repeat the same thing, we’re just going to continually go before the Lord with these prayers. And very creatively, we just said seven prayers for Agape that’s, that’s what we called it. And we didn’t want to just pray our own ideas. Again, from this place of desperation. It was like we need to know what God wants us to do. We’re desperate for that. We’re desperate for God’s help. And so we derive the prayers from God’s word. We wanted to pray God’s word and that’s a scripture passage I’ll share for you for this for today on the podcast, one of these I think you can get something out of even if you don’t necessarily, even if you’re not going to Agape, you’re not listening to this at a particular time.
But John 15:7, Jesus says, If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. That is an incredible verse. So that’s one of the verses you look at the Bible and you say, okay, is this really true? Do I really believe this? Do I really believe that if the words of Christ abide in me, I can ask whatever I wish and it will be done for it for me?
And now this is a verse that’s also much misused, misinterpreted. There are people in certain churches that would point to this and say, Look, you know, God’s, God’s inviting, you can just ask for whatever you wish and it will be done. And this passage of Scripture doesn’t teach us to treat Jesus like a genie in the bottle. Like if we do the right thing, then he’ll give us whatever we wish. That’s, that’s really not the point of this passage at all.
If you think about what it means Jesus is saying, here’s how you abide. Part of abiding part of remaining with me being in my presence, always, is that my words are in you. Okay, so the Bible, all the words of Jesus, he claims all of them, all the words of God, in Scripture, if those words are in us, not just that we’re reading them, not just that we’ve memorized a few of them, but that the word — we’re so hungry for the word, and we’re in God’s word, so that God’s word is in us, that we meditate on it, we think about it, we, we remember it, like we take it in, like food for our souls. And over time we learn the word and yes, we do memorize that we remember what it says, and it is in us and we’re obeying it. Because when the word is in you, you’re actually doing the word.
When when the word abides in us that way, Jesus says, your prayer life is going to be so powerful. You’re going to be able to ask for whatever you wish and it will be done for you. Why? Because God’s word is changing us, transforming us. We’re not just praying whims. We’re not just praying, you know, whatever comes to our minds, we’re actually praying from His word. Our hearts are being transformed. So we know what to ask for. There’s certain things that if we go to pray for it, we would be able to say, you know what, I don’t really think that’s God’s will. That’s against God’s word. I’m not going to pray for that. But here’s what I am going to pray for. Because I’ve seen this in the Bible.
And so we wanted to do that as a church. We wanted to pray God’s word. So we looked at the needs of our church. And we began to search scripture and find scripture that were related to what God says about those needs and what God said about the vision for the church and love in the church and how we operate in the church, in anything from giving in the church when we just began to look at all of those verses, and then we developed Seven prayers from those passages.
And so every year since then, we have tried to do this in the fall, where we bring this back around where we have this fall prayer initiative where we present seven prayers, some of them stay the same. Some of them have changed. We really try to seek the Lord each year on what we should be praying for. Now, let me say this, the goal isn’t to just pray God’s word for our church, once a year, we want to be doing this continually. So we want to learn in our lives to take God’s Word in, to let the words of Christ abide in us, and then pray that word.
But we see this opportunity. Every fall is just a reminder, a priming of the pump for the church where every, every fall, we rally the church around the same prayers and the same passages of Scripture and we lift those up. And I think it goes without saying, we’ve seen God move so much. I mean, our church is in such a different place today, in 2021, then it was in 2017. And it’s not because of a person it’s not because of a plan. It’s not — It’s because I believe these prayers, of just desperation, for God, even when I say these prayers, I don’t mean that particular sheet of prayers, is what made all the difference. I mean, desperation for God, seeking Him, asking God for His help, and doing it from his word. God answered those prayers. He’s been so kind and so good to us. And he has helped our church so much.
Now, if you were to grade our church by certain success measures of the world, we would fall short, but compared to where we were four years ago, what God has done, what God has allowed us to see the fruitfulness and the fruitfulness in spiritual development and growth, numerical growth in the church and God meeting our needs. It has been so clear what God has done. So we look forward every year to having that opportunity to come back before him in desperation, and asking God to be with us.
And so this Sunday, we will be presenting the seven prayers for Agape for this year. We’re being led this year to pray for seven different topics:
Wholeheartedness Deliverance, power, the power of God in our lives, zeal for the church, gifts of grace in our church, effective evangelism and to be a lighthouse, to be a lighthouse to our community.
And so we’re going to be praying for these topics and so on this Sunday, we will have information that you will be handed and given as part of our church service, we’ll be sending it out in our newsletter, and our email list. And ultimately, we want to get this out on our website as well. So some point in the future, you hopefully build check agapepinson.com and learn a little bit more about this prayer fall — this fall prayer initiative that we do and what that looks like each year, we’re going to ask you as you take part in this as an individual or as a family, every day, choose a couple of the passages that we present in the prayer guide. Slowly read those consider them look for phrases, look for words that stand out to you. And then use that passage as well as the suggested prayers that we have in the prayer guide itself and pray for you, pray for your church, and pray for your community.
These prayers are such, that even if you don’t go to Agape if you wanted to pray these for the church, you do go to reach out to us you can email us firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be glad to provide you a copy of what we’re praying for our church.
Will also be praying for our community this year. Last year. In our fall prayer initiative, we prayed for our sister church in our community. This year, we’re going to be praying for families in our community. Specifically, we have a list this year of teachers at a local school, as well as families in our community that use our churches, homeschool ministry, and they’re homeschooling their kids. And we’re going to be praying for those teachers in the public schools, we’re going to be praying for the families in our homeschool covering. And we’re going to be praying specifically for those families for God to move in them to help them to grow them during this time to meet their needs. And so we’re going to be actually adopting different classrooms, teachers, and families in our community and adopt them in prayer and be praying for them over the course of this month in this fall prayer initiative.
So I hope you will participate. If you’re listening to this podcast, I truly think you will be but I hope you will participate. I hope it’s helpful to understand a little bit of the origins of the prayer initiative. I hope if you’re listening to this outside of our church, that it might spur you to some ideas for your own prayer life or you know prayers In the church that you attend, so we’d love to hear from you. If you found this helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions do so as well and I hope you’ll join us for the next episode of the podcast. Until then, church grace and peace to your family.