My Prayer for Real Life:
God, thank you for the opportunity to lead Real Life, to be part of the community, and to serve you. This will be my first full year here in Virginia and that is a wild thought and still hasn’t sunk in completely. I’m eager to see what 2018 brings and I hope and pray that it is a banner year for Real Life. God, you know the congregation has been through a lot in their history, and I have been so encouraged that despite so many knocks to the chin, there have been people that have continued to be part of Real Life, committed to the community and to your work about their circumstances. I’m especially amazed and grateful for those who have been around since the beginning. Their hearts for the church and seeing it through all the storms is so awesome and I pray a blessing over them. Thank you also for all of our volunteers, each person that gives up some of their time to help Real Life build God’s kingdom. From Children’s workers, Student Ministry, Welcome and set up, Life group leaders, and each person that takes the messages they hear Sundays and lives out God’s calling in their workplace and classrooms. God would you encourage and strengthen each volunteer, letting them know that serving others is essential to who you’ve created them and called them to be. God, if any volunteer is worn out, or ready to quit, would you give them the boldness to talk to someone about where they are and would you provided someone to encourage them, and to love them well. God I also ask for more to volunteer, as the need is always great.
God for our children and students I ask that their hearts are open and respond to your love. Would their response to your love be both trusting you, and living out your love with their friends and classmates. As a community we would see our students and children as participators in building your kingdom, and would we all have our eyes out and or lives ready to pour into them through mentorship, through encouragement and caring, and by being a people who are all involved in showing children and student’s your love.
God for our adults would you shake us from any apathy, would our foundation in you grow deeper and deeper in a way where our lives reflect you more and more. I ask that at as people attend Real Life that they would experience the Gospel, the love of Jesus through the community. I ask that we love people in such a way that by the time they hear about God’s love on stage, they’ve seen God’s love in the community, in how they were welcomed, in how people care for them, in how each person they have interacted with has cared for them, and in how intentional we are about caring for people’s, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Help us not be a church that just talks about your love, but a people who so clearly live out your sacrificial love that while they may deny you, they can’t deny that our faith in you moves us to audaciously loving through our actions. I pray that Real Life would be a church that people love to go to and enjoy participating in, BUT more than anything that people would fall more in love with you, and that Real Life would be known as a church that has helped people know and love God more.
God there is also a lot of anticipation for our new building, and I’m excited about it too, but help us not wait for that to be finished to invest our talents. Help us not get so excited about a building that we lose focus on the needs and opportunities now. Help us not get so focused on the building that we forget to remember that your kingdom needs no building because you have empowered each one of us with your Holy Spirit. Your word says: Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself. Help each of us daily remember that we are the church, not the building, that we have been called to be the picture of Christ, not just a Sunday gathering, and that each one of us has the job of telling the world about you. I ask that over the next number of months, as the building is constructed we begin to care less about “when we get in the building” and more about those around us right now, that need your hope in their lives. Help us not see our building as a game changer, but as awesome opportunity to continue and expand ministry.
For our life groups, would you create amazing bonds between people, encouraging one another to love Jesus and live Jesus. Would you allow Life groups to connect so well that people are eager to invite others to experience what they have experienced. God, so often a great group experience can turn people inward, not wanting to add others, but I pray that the exact opposite is true, that people experience your love so well in groups that they are bold in inviting others in. I pray for those who have difficult people in their groups, would you help them see that our calling is to love those who are difficult. Your word says: “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Help each one of us, whether its in life groups, in our classrooms, at home, or in our workplace, to love those who are difficult. Strengthen us to not be dependent on our own strength to do this, but turn to your for the strength we need.
For our staff, I ask that you help us be equippers of God’s people, and a staff that clearly loves you and keeps you at the center of our lives. Keep us focused on developing people to love you and live out your calling. Help us not get in the trap of believing that that it is our job to do all the ministry, but that we lead people by encouraging them, equipping them, and unleash them to where God has called them. God for each staff member’s family, I pray that you would protect marriages, keeping you at the center, and letting them be a reflection of your love. I pray that children would fall in love with you and would desire to live for you. Please don’t’ allow the weight of Church responsibility give spouses and children a bad taste in their mouth, but instead that ministry would be thrilling and desirable.
And God, as we move into 2018 I ask for wisdom to lead. Your word says: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. SO God I beg for wisdom. You know that I can be independent, but God I want to be completely dependent on you. I want godly wisdom so that we can be a church that is so obviously changed by you that people can’t deny you. God, I need strength to lead, I need your guidance, and your wisdom. Even in times when I don’t intentionally seek your guidance I give you permission to override my thoughts and force me in the direction you want.
There is a lot coming up for us this year. God, be the center of our focus, the center of our love and our lives, and would 2018 be a year, that isn't primarily known as the year we got back into the building, but as the year we were more generous, more outreach focused and discipleship driven than any year in the past! And may your kingdom come in Hampton Roads, through Real Life, as it is in heaven!