1. Welcome & Reading of Scripture Verse2. Short, Reflective Silence3. Prayer of Praise4. Intercessory Prayer5. Closing Benediction
Topics for Intercessory Prayer for October 2017:
- For a push to radically change social safety net programs without the kind of reform that would make it easier for individuals and families to access and curb existing funding short falls. For a change of heart in the life of all Christians towards those in need.
- Continued prayers for those who are lifting up our severe racial challenges as a nation. For Dr. Barber and Repairers of the Breach and others called to this important work.
- For families and individuals in needs as the weather turns cold. For ministries and hearts of compassion for those who are in need in our specific neighborhoods and spheres of influence.
- Continued prayers for those several impacted by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Almost a third still without power. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/its-been-10-weeks-since-hurricane-maria-hit-puerto-rico-heres-where-recovery-stands
- *Continued prayer for the Rohingya facing severe suffering in Bangladesh and the ethnic hatred which fueled this conflicthttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/02/world/asia/myanmar-rohingya-denial-history.html
- For peace both with and within North Korea.
- For the sever famine in Yemen and war which is coming at a high cost to the vulnerable https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/world/middleeast/yemen-famine-saudi.html
- For our work on the social safety net, especially with new efforts underway in 2018 to severely cut what many Americans rely on in their time of need.
- For our work with Grace and Race Ministries Inc. and engaging 50 Congregations around the 50th Anniversary of MLK’s death. Thanks for initial interest from Congregations.
- For wisdom as KMS makes two hires at the start of the year for a Program Assistant and Administrator position that God will call the right people.
- For resource development around prayer and the how people can come together in diverse ways.
- For developing deeper ties with works of Justice that have ecumenical implications.
- For our development of a new and compelling resource around the History of the Black Church in America. For good initial partners and advisory board development.
Deepening a Life of Prayer
How do you make time for God? Many Christians have a great desire to spend time with God, but it never seems to translate to action. Sometimes, we convince ourselves that we lack the time; other times we are simply unsure of where to start or even how to cultivate the desire for a devotional/prayer life. We catch ourselves saying, “I wish I could start the day with an hour of prayer, but given my commitments that’s not very realistic,” or “I know I want to spend time with God but where do I start?”
Without guidance the whole issue of how to develop a prayer life can become bewildering.
So how does one go from barely reading scripture or praying; to spending a robust amount of time in prayer, reading, or reflection of some sort?
The simple, one word answer: repentance. A devotional life begins with needing to cultivate some desire for it. The surest way to cultivate an honest desire for God is repentance. You might ask, “Repent? For what?”
For everything, more specifically repent for our lack of desire for a devotional life. You may want to choose some phrases to help. Many Christians use the Jesus Prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” But other phrases from scripture or like in spirit can be easily used. A few examples:
- The wages of sin is death.
- Give an account for your management of the household.
- Remember from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first.
Cultivating a prayer and devotional life is a bit more akin to being serious about going to the gym or getting into physical shape. At first it’s going to be slow and hard work. You aren’t going to want to develop a prayer life. Instead you’ll find it comforting to go back to old patterns rather quickly. That’s why repentance is crucial. Repentance brings us back to our unwillingness to really cultivate our faith. The process of developing a prayer life will humble you and that sort of humbling is a key ingredient for living a life of faith.
After repentance you need to choose some set course of study or rule (set form for study). This is probably the hardest thing to do, especially in an age that values spontaneity and experience, at some point all of that feeling has to give way to a decision. The good news is that there are a lot of things one could do. There’s the Book of Common Prayer (here‘s an easy to use online version) which has very set prayers for morning and evening. There’s also a whole host of audio prayer devotions, and scripture readings. Here is an audio devotional from the Jesuit tradition and here is a long listing of options from http://www.biblegateway.com.
Some elements that are worth looking for as you decide where to start. Look for something that has some scripture to work through or think about. Look for something that you will do in repetition. This is a key point. In the beginning your prayer/devotional life can’t really survive off of spontaneity. If you have to start with five minutes a day, twice a day, than that’s what you do. Like weight lifting start at something you can repeat and explore from there. A prayer life is something you cultivate and develop; it doesn’t just happen because you want it to.
You aren’t going to go from nothing to a robust devotional life in a short period of time. Realize that patience will be a key ingredient to cultivating a life of faith. So you are looking for something to build on.
Practice. Not just doing the devotion, but implementing the ideas and truths in scripture in your daily life. Faith without works is dead. Devotion without practice won’t build up a life of faith. The scriptures have to be infused in your day to day life to strengthen your faith. It’s not enough to think about theology and about prayer and about scripture, integrate them with specific people and specific circumstances and you will find that your understanding of scripture and desire for a devotional life grows.
Faith comes by hearing and doing. A devotional life comes with cultivating a desire for it by living out what we learn.