A prayer journey
The funny thing about prayer is that it usually takes unceasing intercession to see God work out answers. Often the response (or the solution we want) isn’t forthcoming, so we give up.
I learned how to pray around the family breakfast table as my parents read Our Daily Bread and the prayer requests from the Sunday morning church bulletin. Those prayers always included family, friends, neighbours, and the work of the church locally and abroad.
Prayer that listens
But during my first ministry assignment as associate pastor at Cariboo Bethel Church in Williams Lake, B.C., I learned the difference between praying through a list of requests and interceding for God’s Kingdom to be known on earth as it is in heaven.
My friend Dave discipled me to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, then intercede in that direction.
I had to let God grow the vision in me before he could use me to grow it in others.
It changed the way I ministered to people.
I began to call upon God to accomplish what he needed in each of us so God’s Kingdom could continue to advance in our church, our neighbourhood, our city, country, and beyond.
Prayer that walks
Each Sunday morning, I would arrive at church early, so I could pray through the sanctuary without disruption. Walking back and forth through the rows of pews, I prayed for those who regularly sat in those spaces and those who would come in as visitors.
I prayed that the voice of the Holy Spirit would be heard through the music and message, through the prayers and the reading of Scripture.
I prayed that people would care for each other, sensing the needs of the person beside them and turning to minister in that moment.
I prayed that the time spent together in worship would flow out into how people lived out their lives the rest of the week.
Over the years, God changed the way the church ministered, lived, and reached out. And the church grew.
Prayer that inspires
Three years later, God called me to Kitchener (Ont.) MB Church (KMB) as a youth pastor.
There, I continued to arrive early every Sunday morning to pray through the rows of pews for the people who came and the work God desired to accomplish.
I had the privilege of mentoring many youth and young adults to live as followers of Jesus in daily life. Like Dave taught me, I showed them how to listen for the Spirit and intercede.
In my 11 years there, I saw numerous answers to intercessions while other prayers remained unaddressed and, at times, God seemed silent.
From KMB Church, I eventually found myself at her daughter church – WMB Church in Waterloo, Ont. – first as interim worship pastor and then as seniors ministry pastor.
What a joy to again walk the rows each Sunday morning, prayerfully interceding for those who come to worship, listen, and discover the joy of knowing a God who loves them and calls them into his Kingdom.
In response to the praying church, people are committing their lives to Jesus, being baptized, and becoming disciples of Christ and disciplers of others. God moves on the knees of intercession.
Prayer that renews
This past winter and spring, a conversation started between KMB and WMB – from mother to daughter church – exploring ways that God’s Kingdom might continue to grow in the twin cities and in the two church families.
The former have aged and are in decline, but still desire to be a vibrant light in their neighbourhood. KMB decided in late spring to work toward a merger of the two churches into one church in two locations.
Because of my history with KMB, I was asked to serve there Sundays during the summer months.
It was a sort of coming full circle as I showed up early at the same church, to pray through the same pews, for the same people at a different stage of life 29 years later.
I once again had the privilege of encouraging the people – now seniors – whom I’d gotten to know as the parents of the members of my youth and young adult groups.
I continue to pray for the many people God desires to bring to himself. I look forward to seeing God’s Kingdom come and his will be done in response to the intercession of both church units.
Through KMB’s selfless act of releasing their church into the hands of their daughter church, God is again using this aging church to breathe the new life of the Spirit.
Shortly after the merger agreement was ratified, the WMB staff prayed through KMB Church together. As we held hands and walked worshipfully through the rows of pews, I caught a glimpse of God’s glory and pleasure in seeing his people pursuing him on their knees in intercession.
May our prayers never cease even though we don’t always see the fruit!