Monday, October 14, 2013

Prayer is personal but not private

Yesterday I finished a six week sermon series on prayer at Chain of Lakes by sharing a vision for prayer.  The vision I shared is our new church will be a community of prayer.  I shared three elements of this vision.  One is that prayer is personal and not private.  During the last six weeks I’ve been encouraging people to share their prayer lives with each other.  The local congregation should be a place where we can learn from each other about our prayer lives.  We should feel comfortable sharing what is happening in our prayer lives, the obstacles we’re encountering, the joys we’re experiencing.  Through our sharing we learn from each other.
Many people at Chain of Lakes have shared with me that they have never (yes, never!!!!) been encouraged to talk about their own prayer lives with another person.  I am so glad that we are creating the type of community where we can be authentic about our own prayer lives. 
If you would like to watch the entire sermon go to:
I feel so strongly about this point that prayer is personal and not private that I decided to share this section of the sermon in my blog.  Please share your comments.  This is a very important issue!
The first element of this vision is prayer is personal but not private.  Prayer is personal because we share our most intimate thoughts with God.  When we’re honest with God through prayer we have to confront ourselves—our limitations and our strengths.  When we pray we can be naked—we’re laid bare before God. 
But prayer is not private.  The value of a community is we can help each other.  An image I’ve been working with this week is a workout center.  In a way a local congregation is like a workout center.  We’re all working out or praying and we’re sharing with each other how it’s going.  If I was at a workout center and I was training for a race I’d ask people how is it going, what’s happening, what’s working.  In the church the same thing should happen with prayer.  We should be asking each other, how’s your prayer life going, what’s working, what obstacles are you facing.  When we ask these questions we don’t ask them out of judgment..  Our motivation is not to point our finger and say, “did you pray this week?”  That’s the furthest thing from our mind. 
We want to be a community where we help each other in our prayer lives.  When we share we learn from each other.
This past Thursday night at our Steering Committee we talked about our prayer lives.  It was a wonderful conversation.  We authentically shared what was going well in our prayer lives and our struggles.  We all know that we can do better.  We also know that God accepts us where we are in our prayer life.  One of the Core Values of Chain of Lakes is acceptance.   We understand this to mean that “We accept people without judgment, regardless of what has happened in their lives or where they are on their faith journeys.”
Think about how this Core Value relates to prayer.
We can learn so much about prayer when we share our prayer lives with each other. 
One challenge I have is I’m going to challenge each of our teams to open up our meetings with a conversation about our prayer life.  Let’s get in the habit of sharing what is going well, what obstacles we are facing.  If we aren’t praying, we’re not embarrassed to say that.  If something is going well, we’ll share that too.    
Prayer is personal, but not private.

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