Since the weather stopped us from meeting this last Sunday, I want to take a few minutes in our newsletter this month to write about what we were going to look at this past Sunday. We are getting ready to start 2016, and with the new year, I would like to challenge each of us to enter this year as a year of prayer. It seems that this faith family is taking hits from everywhere, both on a personal and a church level in the last few months. Times are a little hard, but I think we have the opportunity to really lean in and trust God. We have the chance to be a part of something huge, because it won’t be our power that turns things around. If we are able to put our faith in God, trust Him, and have the courage to pray audaciously in the new year, I really believe that we will have the chance to see God do some amazing things through Central Christian Church.
What do I mean by audacious prayer? Well, let’s take a lesson from the life and teaching of Jesus, and see what it can mean in our own lives. For the sake of space again, I will not quote the whole passage of scripture here. I ask that you either look it up, or click here if you are reading this in an e-mail. The passage in question is John 17. It’s Jesus’ prayer recorded in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was arrested. For all intents and purposes, it is His last prayer before He was crucified. He knew what was coming, and it was in this context that He spent this time in prayer.
He started out praying for Himself, that He would be glorified. That wasn’t a selfish prayer. He was praying that He would be strong enough to accomplish the task that He had been sent to do. By Jesus completing that task, and being glorified, it would bring glory to God. That was what Jesus was all about. He wanted nothing more than to bring glory to the Father through whatever He did. He was praying for strength to complete the task, because He knew it was going to be difficult.
Second, He prayed for His disciples. He prayed that they would stay strong through the difficult times ahead. He prayed for their unity. He knew that some of the events that were going to take place in the near future had the potential to rip the disciples apart. He wanted His disciples to stay strong, but He also wanted them to show their love through unity.
Finally, Jesus took His prayer even further by praying for all those in the future that would believe in Him. That means you and me. He prayed for our unity with each other under His name. That means on the individual, church, and Church level. We are to be unified with each other, in the good times and the bad. These prayers of Jesus are very important, as they are some of His last moments on earth. He wanted to make sure that He prayed for some hard things during this time, and it should teach us something.
That’s what I meant by audacious prayers. In the good time and the bad times, we need to pray big prayers. If you want to know more about the type of prayer I’m talking about, read Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker. It is about a man name Honi who prayed for rain in the midst of a drought. He drew a circle in the sand, and vowed that he would not leave that circle until it rained. And legend has it that he prayed and prayed and then it rained. Not only did it rain, it rained so hard that there was flooding in the area after years of drought. This all took place in Israel during the time between the Old and New Testaments.
That’s the type of prayer I want to see us all praying as we enter the new year. Let’s make 2016 the year of audacious prayer. What does that mean? Well let’s commit to praying for some things that seem huge, because our God is huge. Will all of the prayers that we pray be answered the way we want? No, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be prayed. Pray that our numbers, both attendance and giving wise, will grow. Pray that we will start making a huge impact in this city and county. Pray that the leadership will be in tune with God’s will for the church. Pray that you, individually, can help lead multiple people to Christ. Honestly, here is my audacious prayer. We baptized 4 people, all under the age of 16 at Central in 2015. My prayer is that we will baptize 20 people, 15 of which are 18 and older in 2016. I know that looking at things the way they are now that those numbers seem impossible. But with God, it’s not only possible, it’s within reach.
Here’s how I want you to start. Starting on Monday, January 4, through Monday, February 1, I am asking that each of you commit to praying audaciously for 15 minutes more than what you pray on a regular basis already. Keep your normal prayer routine, just add 15 minutes to it. And make those 15 minutes big prayers. Prayers that you may not think are actually possible. But trust God. Know that we may not ever know the answers, but keep praying. I hope that it becomes a habit for you, but I’m asking that you commit to 15 extra minutes a day. Let’s really make 2016 the year of audacious prayer.