“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples…” – Isaiah 56:7
As we have taken the Lenten journey toward the cross, we have discovered how Jesus Christ offers us his very self to us, not only in history, but even in our daily lives – in new birth, in living water, in clear vision, in resurrection hope, in salvation. When we welcome Christ’s gracious offer and commit to following him, we enter into a life of discipleship that helps us see that the spiritual life we receive from Jesus is intended to infect all our lives. We will hear more about how we discover Christ’s life more fully in the weeks and months to come, but one of the chief ways we grow in the life of following Christ is to be active in our prayer life – both personally and as a community. This is why Jesus exhorted his followers to pray in their “secret place” (Matthew 6:6) as well as to be a communal people of prayer (Matthew 21:13).
As this year is unfolding, I am being convinced and convicted of the need for us to be more intentional in our offering time and space for us as a community of faith to be a people who are being this – “…a house of prayer for all peoples…” As we have lost people to death, what more is needed than for us to pray for and support those who are grieving? As we have a number of people battling chronic illnesses, cancer, hospitalizations, and facing surgeries of various sorts, what is more needed than for the people of God to intercede and pray for healing? As a community that has seen God work in wonderful ways in the distant and recent past, what is more appropriate than to give God praise and thanks for these graces? As a people who struggle to get to know our neighbors and deal with other struggles that keep us from more fully experiencing God’s grace, what is more needful than to confess our brokenness and desire for God to mend us in relationship to God and one another? As a community that is on the verge of being out of debt, what is more appropriate than to celebrate and give thanks for God’s provision? And as a church that is looking toward the future and entering into a season of discernment and conversation about what is next, what more is needed than to ask for God’s own desire and will for us?
In these ways and more, it is our intention to engage in a new weekly prayer service called A.C.T.S. This is an acronym that is commonly used to guide people in prayer as much of our prayer life focuses on these areas – Adoration of God for who God is, worthy of praise; Confession to God for the ways in which we have failed and fallen short of God’s will; Thanksgiving for the ways God has provided healing and grace and life; and Supplication to God as interceding, petitioning, asking God to act for the people and in the areas where there are needs in the present and future.
Beginning on Wednesday, April 19, we will begin a weekly prayer service in the sanctuary at 10:00am-10:30am on Wednesdays. We will gather to read Scripture, pray, and celebrate Holy Communion. We will pray over the requests in the prayer list and those submitted from the worship services on Sunday or submitted in the prayer room. We will have a particular project or group or individual or family as a focus for each week. While I will lead in the liturgy of communion, this will intentionally be a lay lead service, so if you are interested in leading in prayer, reading the Scriptures, or giving a brief meditation, please let me know by calling the church office (901.386.0205) or emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or our lay leader, Mark Griffy (email@example.com).
For those who are able to attend, I hope you will make the effort to do so. For those who are working or at school or participating in other activities during that time, I would encourage you, as you are able, to set a reminder in your phone or calendar to be in a particular posture or mentality of prayer – to dwell on the love of God and to grow in A.C.T.S. – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication – to pray for those in need and for our church as we seek to live into God’s will for our present and future.
May God guide us as we seek to be a more faithful people of prayer.