The importance of prayer in church revitalization, Part 1
Editor’s note: This post is an excerpt from the book, Replanting Rural Churches by Matt Henslee and Kyle Bueermann, available from Acoma Press.
Jesus’ disciples heard all kinds of Jesus’ teaching. They heard him teach for three years on the kingdom of God. They saw him raise the dead and heal the sick and crippled. They witnessed him walk on water and saw him feed thousands of people. With all this flurry of activity over the course of three years, you’d think the disciples were really curious about all Jesus taught them. They must have had a million questions! There were certainly things they just simply didn’t understand.
One of the keys to revitalization in any context is prayer. You have no power to revitalize anything on your own, never mind the ability to see God’s glory reclaimed in a church in the middle of nowhere. If you want to see God’s kingdom expand in places the world has passed by and passed over, it will require a reliance on the supernatural provision of God.
To learn how to pray, let’s walk through Jesus’ model prayer in Luke 11:2-4.
Father, your name be honored as holy (v. 2a).
Ultimately, the goal of seeing churches revitalized is not simply to increase Sunday morning attendance or offering totals. It’s not even about increasing the number of baptisms, as great as that may be. The goal of church revitalization is to make the name of God great in places where it has become an afterthought, if it’s even a thought at all.
One of your daily prayers for the people in your church and community must be that they will come to honor the name of God as holy. We want men and women, boys and girls to revere the name of Almighty God. We want to see people come to understand that Almighty God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, is their only hope in this life and the life to come. Without this component, anything else we may accomplish in church revitalization is for naught. Unless we get this right, nothing else matters. Unless we understand this, we will miss the next part of this, too.
Your kingdom come (v. 2b)
As a church revitalization pastor, there is a concept you must learn: your church is not ultimate. God’s plan to save the world is the Church. It includes your local church, but the kingdom of God does not depend on your church.
Your church is a part of God’s strategic plan to reach your community for the kingdom of God, but it is not ultimate. The kingdom of God will last forever; your local church will not. If we are serious about seeing the kingdom of God expand in our communities, I believe He will honor that by taking care of our local churches. As you spend time in prayer for your people, pray that they would have a heart for the kingdom of God to expand.
In the next part of this series, we’ll cover verses 3 and 4.