It Seems To Me … (36 + 1)
It Seems To Me . . .
. . we need 36 plus 1!
Like many of you, I receive dozens of e-newsletters. Not because I like to brag about how many emails I get in a day, but in order to keep current with the fresh thought and best practices of Christian leadership. E-newsletters from prayer leaders (of course), vision-casters, leadership-trainers, writers, thinkers, and doers . . . revealing how the Holy Spirit continues to inspire and instruct and even redirect the Body of Christ toward biblically founded and culturally relevant pursuits of the Great commandment and Great Commission.
Those who produce these newsletters (and I am one of them!) know how few recipients actually read their email newsletters when it arrives. “Opens” is often in the single digits. So, when I noticed a recent headline, designed to entice my further interest, I became a statistic; I opened and took a look.
Thirty-six reasons or questions or insights about vision. I was hooked. We all know the power of vision and three dozen ways to capture it is too good to pass up.
But you know where I am heading.
The word p-r-a-y was no where to be found. I skimmed and scanned and even used the search function. Process. Engagement, Integrate. Rollout. Of course, missional. All good and useful concepts. Necessary for strategic leadership. But how useful and strategic can they be if seeking-the-mind-of-Christ-prayer is not included in the process? How beneficial is it to engage one another’s thoughts without first engaging the leading of the Spirit? Do we remain ignorant of the power of integrating prayer in planning? Are we not yet tired of rolling out new programs and events that are insufficiently prayer-powered? Dare we embark on a missional adventure without the compass of prayer?
Here I go again. Long-time members of the Church Prayer Leaders Network have heard this rant of mine more than once. It would be a joy to know we no longer need to remind ourselves to breathe while exercising or to take a gulp of air while swimming against the currents of a changing culture. Prayer may be our area of interest but it is never only that. It is the fuel that empowers every function and action of the Body of Christ. And, not-for-leaders-only.
Vision-casting, strategic-planning, action-steps, all need to be:
- Prayer-birthed. Prayer allows the Holy Spirit to plant the seed of a new idea within us. Ideas for ministry need to come through or be affirmed by our listening conversations with the Lord. If prayer starts with God (and it does), then seeking vision, setting plans, taking action all need to be ignited and illuminated directly by our Lord and Leader. Studying His word is essential but prayerful dialog in that study is required in order for us to hear a fresh word from his word. I write this on the eve of a Leadership Consultation that will devote the opening plenary session to prayer so that the 110 table groups and 27 affinity consultations that follow will produce dialog birthed in the heart of God.
- Prayer-based. Prayer is more than a polite God-greeting. We need to remember the Holy Spirit has provided more than the compass of God’s word; He provides Himself as the guide who carries that compass for us on the journey. Our rollouts of programs, activities, events, service projects–everything we do as an expression of ministry–must be based, yes on biblical truth, but also upon prayer. A based-in-prayer vision constantly returns to the Lord who revealed that vision to assess our faithfulness in implementation. Plans birthed in prayer must be regularly resubmitted to the One for whom we are ultimately planning. Action steps need to be reevaluated. Prayer enables us to receive the evaluation of our Lord and Leader so that we may continue on or make adjustments.
- Prayer-bathed. The prayers of those participating must be augmented by the prayers of intercessors. Prayer not just before we act but as we act, produces authentic prayer-based ministry. When pastoring, I often told my congregation, “While there are only a dozen going on this mission trip this week, everyone is going . . . by means of prayer.” Inviting everyone and making special efforts to engage committed-to-prayer members allows for congregation-wide ownership while producing more prayer, more often.
So, it seems to me . . . while we need 36 steps and strategies, we really need that 36 plus 1!
Originally published in Prayer Leader Online (Church Prayer Leaders Network)