Thoughts on where we are
- Pastor Erwin
Today is day 18 of our 40 days of prayer for North. (It's easy to keep track, because we started on April 1). Some thoughts about where we are:
Since I have been at North, we have never had a 40-day period of prayer to seek God's future for our church. That in itself is something we (especially I) need to repent of. Some congregations do this regularly and even yearly, and often with fasting. The fact that we haven't is an indication, I believe, that we have depended more on our resources (experience, history, abilities, funds, ideas, etc) than we have on the Lord. Sure, God wants us to use our resources in the best way we can. But the more we have to fall back on, the greater the temptation to trust in ourselves more than we trust in God. It is good to remember Proverbs 3:5-6.
I don't know about you, but I'm finding it challenging to set apart focused time of prayer each day specifically for North. I started off strong. Then there were extremely busy days leading up to Holy Week and unexpected needs presented themselves. I still remembered to lift up the church in prayer, but it was often just a single sentence, while going from here to there. There were days I wondered, "What else is there to say? To ask?" And probably like many of you, I am anxious to move from praying to planning. But I believe that the most important thing for us right now is to continue to pray, to press into praying to "wait for the Lord," as the Psalms say over and over. More than anything, I believe God wants us to learn to walk by faith and not by sight, and I'm conviced that staying committed to this season of prayer is our necessary first step.
I think it's probably normal to be in the middle of this season of prayer and start to "flag in zeal"; much like hitting the halfway mark of a 5K run when you haven't been training, and your side starts to hurt, and you wonder if you can make it. (This happens to me every year at the Hunger Walk or on long bike rides!) We can make it. We just need to encourage one another, as Paul also found it necessary to write to the early church, "Keep on praying" (1 Thess 5:17, NLT).
Encouraging one another to remain faithful in prayer can take many forms. Ask, "How are you doing? What are you praying about? Hearing from God?" Share what you are hearing. Write any Scriptures the Holy Spirit leads you to on the Prayer Wall in the Chapel. Call up a friend and offer to pray together with them. Join with others to pray on Tuesday evenings, 7:30. (And if you can't make it on Tuesday evening, don't feel guilty. That's not the only way to be in prayer together.)
Finally, I plan to continue to send out a weekly prayer encouragement of some sort, at least through these 40 days. If you have something to include or share that would be helpful to all of, send it to me. In the meantime, here's some encouragement about Persevering in Prayer from Pastor John Piper, founder of DesiringGod.org. This was writen 35 years ago, but it seems like it could have been written for us today.
Praying with you,