Search Results For "wimpy prayer"

Diary-of-a-wimpy-kid-GregThe delightful New York Times bestseller Diary of a Wimpy Kid details Greg Hefley’s misadventures in Middle School as told through cartoon entries in his diary.  He records his insights and questions, his frustrations and aspirations.  He’s writing it now so one day when he’s rich and famous he can simply hand it to the paparazzi when they ask about his life.  “Here’s my journal.  Now shoo, shoo.”

Just like you can tell a lot about someone’s life by their diary so you can tell a lot about the life of a church by their prayers.  It’s a window into the congregation’s values and concerns, hopes and fears.

I realize prayer requests are pretty personal stuff; I’m not trying to bash anyone.  Still, it needs to be said:  most prayers offered in most churches would classify our churches as wimpy.   Yes, wimpy.

In the churches I attend and visit, the most commonly voiced prayer requests are for:

  • People recovering from illness or surgery
  • Their caregivers, or sometimes their survivors
  • People traveling
  • Communities hit by a natural disaster
  • The US Military and their families

These kind of prayer requests make for a wimpy church; they keep us weak and ineffectual.   I know I’m going out on a limb here and some of you may be offended.  But stick with me.

I want to share with you how and why these kinds of prayers keep us wimpy, plus 3 ways to transform your church to strong, brave, and confident!   Finally, I have 3 tips for how to make the transition gracefully.

 

The How and Why of It

In a word, our prayers tend to be about us:  our health, our safety, our comfort.

Of course, no concern is unimportant to a loving, caring God.  All of our individual worries, cares, and fears are burdens equally shared by God.  That’s not the issue.   That’s not what makes us wimpy.

Here is the issue:   Our individual prayers for our health, safety and comfort generally constitute the sum total of the corporate prayers offered in worship as the body of Christ.

What’s wrong with that?

  1.  We say that we are the hands and feet of Christ, who came for the whole creation, but our prayers reveal that we only care about us—specifically, our health, our safety, and our comfort.   When did you last pray for the earth’s creatures? Or people groups you have never met?
  2. We say we want young people in our churches, but our prayers reveal we don’t care much about the world they live in or will lead.   When did you last pray about the causes of teen suicide or the things that bring them joy?
  3. We say we follow Christ, but our prayers don’t sound much like his.  He prayed for unity, strength under duress, God’s will above his own, God’s kingdom to come, right-sized sustenance, forgiveness for sins and debts as well as the ability to forgive others, guidance to resist temptation and for faith to increase among other things. Other than the Lord’s Prayer, do you pray these things?

Prayers that Transform

Ready for prayers that will make your church strong, bold and confident?  If so, here are 3 strategies for you to try.

  1. Offer a pastoral prayer that addresses the concerns of the world in the past week.  Read the newspaper or watch what topics are trending on Twitter, whether #blacklivesmatter; #iamcharliehebdo; #JeSuiJuif.  Don’t shy away from praying about what the rest of the world is talking about.
  2. The world is in the midst of a new baby boom with the growth of the Digital and Millennial generations.  What would make the world a better place for these young people to grow up in?  Offer prayers that address those concerns.
  3. Read the Gospels to see what Jesus prayed.  Begin to reflect his concerns in the corporate prayers of the church.

Tips for the Transition

Likely you have been praying “us” prayers for a long time.  It takes intentionality to make this shift.  Here are 3 tips to help you make a smooth transition:

  1. Don’t pray off the top of your head.  Instead, prepare ahead of time.  Otherwise you are likely to default to prayers that focus on familiar themes.   Ask Spirit for courage to sustain you in this new way of praying.
  2. Weave personal requests for comfort, health and safety into corporate prayers that reflect the needs of the world, the young, and Jesus’ own prayers.
  3. Understand many people in the congregation already have these wider concerns on their hearts and minds.  But they are following your lead about what’s “acceptable” to lift up.  Your wise words will embolden them.

Church, if we get these things right, then our prayers will no longer weaken our churches.  Instead, they’ll make us stronger, braver and more confident!   Then watch out.  The word is likely to get out.

Science now confirms what scripture points to: there is a peace that passes all understanding. This peace, researchers have found, couple in conflictemanates from deep within the human heart. It is both measurable and reproducible. I suppose that’s not too surprising. The Biblical traditions equate the heart with feelings like love, peace, and joy.   Here’s what is surprising about the new research: this peace has the capacity to surpass all misunderstanding, too.

You know how being around angry or nasty people can put you in a bad mood?   And how being around laughter is infectious? And how a smile can travel from one person to another? Turns out that’s not just coincidence. It’s the heart’s own emotional intelligence.

Research has shown that emotions emit an energetic wavelength. When our hearts radiate emotions with higher wavelengths—such as appreciation, kindness, compassion, positive regard, joy, delight, and love and peace—we generate more of that into the world. When we radiate emotions with lower wavelengths—judgment, fear, worry, mistrust, suspicion, anger, hate and revenge—we literally create that more of that in the world.   Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now here’s the cool part. These electromagnetic waves have the capacity to influence others, and to draw them in.   Just as sunlight is made up of waves of energy which travels through air, turning night to day, warming cold bones, and dappling leaves—our emotions influence the people around us. Click To TweetDepending on the feeling we radiate, we can intentionally invite other hearts into either a state of peaceful coherence or a state of jagged non-coherence.

What does all this have to do with church?

First, as a spiritual leader, it is important to make sure your heart is aligned with the energies of peace. The more spiritually grounded and coherent the leader’s heart is–that is, aligned with the peace that passes all understanding—the greater your capacity to radiate that peace to the people and situations around you. You can make a measurable difference.

Second, as your congregation gathers to pray, remember to expand your corporate focus beyond the immediate prayer concerns of your people. Intentionally radiate peace that passes understanding out into the world. This is important on the days that our world reverberates with misunderstanding—outrage, upset, and random acts of violence. Your congregation’s concentrated focus on heart-based prayer can make a measurable difference on a global scale.

Third, teach your people how to stay grounded in prayerful appreciation of all the good in the world. This appreciative stance increases heart-based coherence at every level of society. Notice what is right with the world. Focus on the divine signs and wonders around you. Highlight miracles.

In this way you partner with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to co-create the highest energies of peace, love and appreciation in the world. Surprisingly, this is an approach that surpass all misunderstandings in the world.

If personal peace is hard to come by, join us in January for a practical, online workshop that will empower you in Mastering Conflict.

 

How to Tell If Your Church Dreams Like Jesus

Organizations get the exact results they are designed for. A superb design yields superb fruit. A faulty design yields less than desirable fruit. It’s no different with churches or other non-profits. A kingdom-oriented design yields kingdom fruit.

Consider Jesus’ own ministry. It began with his dream of the Volunteers serving in a soup kitchenKingdom of God. This vision undergirded his teaching, preaching, prayer and healing. It informed the financial and organizational structure of his movement.   Not to mention its outreach and public relations policy. It shaped his whole ministry. This movement had modest beginnings but it utterly changed the world as we know it.

If you want your church to thrive, best to start with the dream of Jesus. Churches that dream like Jesus are more likely to get kingdom-oriented results.

If your church makes disciples, brings hope and healing to others, connects with the community to make a better world, and includes a wide variety of people, it’s because your church is set up for that—from the vision, through the preaching and praying, right down to the organizational structure itself. On the other hand, if your church hasn’t made a new disciple in decades, has a shrinking impact and disappearing budget and hemorrhages members, that’s because your church is organized for decline.

To see where you stand on this issue, and if your church dreams like Jesus, take this quiz. Then, let’s talk.

Idream like jesus quizf your church scored 13-18 correct, congratulations. You are wide open to the dreams of Jesus for your congregation and community. Dream on! Take care that your organizational structure remains agile enough to respond to shifting needs. Be sure your leaders are nimble enough to respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Keep your leadership grounded in prayer, and open to new ways of expressing the dream of Jesus.

If your church scored 7-12 correct, be alert.   It either means Jesus’s kingdom dreams are starting to take hold in you OR you are starting to close off to them. Press on for the former by re-energizing your church’s vision. If it’s grounded in Jesus’ own dream, build on it. If it’s not, gather up your courage and boldly lean in to new territory. Expand your church’s comfort zone by taking Jesus’ riskier teachings to heart. Ask the Spirit to lead you toward organizational changes that enable you to speed up decision making, allocate greater resources towards hands-on outreach, and up your willingness to take risks for the kingdom.

If your church scored 1-6 correct, repent. It’s time for a radical turn around. Preacher, get busy and get bold. Pray-ers: shift your petitions from reactive to proactive. In other words from internal matters of health and well-being to what God wants your church to be doing, spending, risking, giving, trying. Begin to dream Jesus’ dreams for you. Lay aside the ways you have been doing things and draw closer to Jesus. Ask him to guide your church. Then have the courage to let him.

Jesus’ dream is always available to us. It’s as close as the Lord’s Prayer, and as near as your next breath. No matter how your church scored, don’t give up hope. Even one step in the right direction can begin to shift the results your church is producing.

My passion is helping the church remember how to dream like Jesus. To that end, I love transforming church leaders and the congregations they serve. Consider these concrete, proactive actions you can take: 1. Sign up for the online class Maximizing Your Leadership EQ. 2. Schedule a Platinum Rule for Thriving Congregations retreat for you and your leadership team. 3. Register now to get Early Bird Savings for Track 1, 2 or 3 of Creating a Culture of Renewal.   Groups begin this September.