1. Welcome & Reading of Scripture Verse2. Short, Reflective Silence3. Prayer of Praise4. Intercessory Prayer5. Closing Benediction
Topics for Intercessory Prayer for January 2018:
- For the debates around immigration and refugees. In particular that our country would do the hard work of gaining consensus and trust in our immigration system. Pray especially for those who are Dreamers and who have been in a consistent state of waiting.
- For national violence in schools. Pray for effective collaborators around the shared goal of keeping schools and neighborhoods safe. Pray for effective partnerships that bridge social divides in this area.
- Prayers for our system of government. That integrity and a trust for our ways of handling disagreement in particular.
- For deeper reflection and meaningful action by the Church in America to heal the wounds of racism in our society and a willingness to learn from each other. Especially pray for an accurate accounting of the past.
- For both divisions between and within Protestantism in America. For a spirit of gracious understanding to prevail between Mainline Christians and Evangelicals and Pentecostals.
- Continued prayers for those several impacted by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a significant segment of whom are still without power.
- For peace both with and within North Korea with the Olympics.
- For Refugees who are stuck in the resettlement process and especially for those who were about to be settled but who have been held back by changing policies in a number of countries.
- For our ongoing work on the social safety net. Especially our efforts to help bring attention to the medically fragile and our work watching proposed changes in the social safety net at the federal and state level http://medicallyfragilechild.com/medically-fragile-child-definition/
- For our work on racial understanding and action around the 50th anniversary of MLK’s Death http://mlkbridges.com/
- For our efforts in hiring that God would draw the right candidates to us to help us fulfill our mission on Christian Unity and Reconciliation. https://kingdommissionsociety.org/2018/01/16/were-hiring/
- For our developing work with the Roman Catholic Church on formal ecumenism and training.
- For the National Workshop on Christian Unity being held in April in Silver Spring MD.
- For our participation in the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. April 4 2018 in Washington DC.
- For our work around initial Lent fundraising around the History of the Black Church.
- For our developing and growing Peacemaking work. That peace oriented Evangelicals and Pentecostals would have a heart to work ecumenically with each other to strengthen our Christian witness when our tradition is in tension with other religious traditions.
- For upcoming pilgrimages to help bring a spirit of openness to the other to Rome and Assisi.
- Other concerns on your heart
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.