Smart Moves: Pray Passionately

By Bob Bickford

“Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:28-29

The work of Replanting a church is not a work of strategy, leadership, marketing, exegeting a community or raising funds alone. It is first and foremost spiritual work.

Some approach church planting or replanting with the idea that the right strategy, worship style, new branding, updated facilities and a new group of people who are more reflective of the community are the primary ingredients that will ensure new growth and life.

Our team receives calls regularly from pastors, denominational leaders and concerned church members who want to know what it will take to turn their church around. It is easy for us to begin to talk about the style of the church, the composition of the congregation compared to the community, past conflicts or current crises, all these are good but they are secondary.

Our team has learned to ask: “How does the church pray together?”

Typically prayer is not absent in any church, but in reality prayer is often superficial, shallow, perfunctory and passionless. Harsh I know, but I’ve been there seen that and done that.

The declining church prays mostly for maintenance not mission.

Maintenance prayer acknowledges God before during and after gathered worship. This kind of prayer focuses on concerns within the body whether it be medical, financial or relational. And there’s nothing wrong with these, but they alone will not likely lift the church out of its malaise.

Replanter, lead the church toward mission oriented prayer.

  • Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be present and real in your gatherings
  • Pray for God to empower and propel the church into the community
  • Pray for those who do not yet know Jesus to come to faith
  • Pray for the church body to be convicted of sins of the head, heart and hands and to repent accordingly
  • Pray for clarity, unity and passion

In most declining and dying churches corporate prayers like these have been absent for a long time.

In the passage above Jesus’ disciples were sincerely desiring to help the man and his son, but they could not. In their following Jesus they had the right words and actions but they lacked real power to address the spiritual and physical stranglehold the enemy had over the young boy.

A church in the process of replanting may say the right things and have the sincere desire to address the spiritual needs in the community but it can only do so when it prays diligently.

Replanter, lead your church to pray passionately about mission.

Published September 20, 2016

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Bob Bickford

Bob Bickford is a Replant Pastor in suburban St. Louis, serves as the Associate Director of Replant for the North American Mission Board and is the co-author of Am I a Replanter,  Pathways to Partnership and the Associational Replanting Guide. Follow Bob on twitter @bobick