My Prayer for Real Life 2021
Well, 2020 did not look like I thought, and as I reflect on last year's prayer for Real Life, God, you accomplished it in ways I never imagined. I prayed for a realization of "unreservedness" that came with an appreciation for whatever you allow us to do, for whoever you allow us to impact, for whatever amount of time you would give us with them. So, as difficult as 2020 was, I want to start by thanking you for answering that prayer. In a year where we had fewer opportunities to know who we impacted and more opportunities for frustration, confusion, and a general sense of "what is going on," I've come to be grateful for what we have been able to accomplish, for the lives we have been able to impact, and for whatever you've allowed us to do in the midst of the pandemic.
God, for this next year, my prayer for Real Life is "Depth." Would you move us to be a church that leads people to fully integrate their faith into every area of their lives? I sense that many of us are okay with you being a small part of our lives, but God, you desire all of us, all areas of our lives submitted to you. Shallow faith is easy. It doesn't make us uncomfortable. It allows us to have enough "religious security" without worrying about changing much in our lives. God, you ask us to take up our crosses and follow you. You've shown us that your way is the best. You tell us it will be difficult, but the burden is light. God, we want life to be easy, with just enough of your teaching to assure us that we get into heaven. God, you want all of us. Every area of our lives. You want this because you love us.
So, God, I pray for Real Life to be a community that grows in the depth of whole life integration of You, Your Word, and Your Calling. Stir us not to be satisfied with mediocre faith that doesn't affect all our interactions with the world. Draw us to the deep waters that are terrifying but exciting, and require keeping our eyes fixed on you.
God, while I ask you to deepen our faith and response in all areas of our lives, these are the specific areas I ask you to deepen living out of Jesus > everything.
Love- There is a lot of pain in our congregation. Unforgiven sin. Unrepentant sin. Anger. Hidden shame. Pride. For all this, I ask for forgiveness and ask for a deeper understanding of your forgiveness so that we can give forgiveness to others. In understanding your love and forgiveness deeper, would you grow us in our love to those who are challenging to love and easy to ignore? Would you restore families, marriages, friendships? Would you shake us to be overwhelmed by your love so that we love those in our lives, reflecting your pursuant, sacrificial love? God prevent us from being a people who sing about your amazing love on Sunday and then withhold that love from others Monday- Saturday. Grow us in our depth of receiving and distributing your love.
Service- God, there are so many needs in our church community and the community around us. As you know, most of the opportunities to serve are filled by a tiny percentage of those who come on Sunday. Would you deepen our awareness and response to the needs both in and out of church? God, your Word tells us that faith without works is dead. Stir us to deeply desire lively, thriving faith. I pray our people would not hear the needs as "have to" or even "need to," but instead, with a more profound love for you, hear the calls to serve as a natural, desirable action from their appreciation of your love for them. Grow us to be a people who integrate serving as a regular part of eager participation in your Kingdom work.
Participation- In this time of social distancing, with many people unable to meet in person, we've realized the weekend service is an area we want to increase our co-participation. God, would you grow us in our depth of engagement in the weekend experience. I pray that each person that calls Real Life home would come to church every week, asking, "How can I fully participate in bringing glory to God in this time?" This perspective takes the focus off us and puts it onto you, where it should be. I pray that when we enter into the space of "church," we would look for opportunities to encourage, pray for, and fully engage in being the "priesthood of believers" to one another. Grow us in our depth of participating in being a loving community to one another. As each person comes into the weekend gathering, I pray they would experience hundreds of "pastors" showing them your love. As we sing, would you deepen our understanding and conviction of the words we sing and help us be a people who worship with all areas of our lives?
God, we have no idea what 2021 will bring, but I know you are in control, and I know you want to grow us in each of these areas. I know that you want to draw us deeper in our understanding and response to you. In the midst of not knowing how to plan, help us not sit back and wait till things are back to normal, but allow this time to shake us from what was normal to live a new normal: One where we are not satisfied with shallow faith, but a year where we are transformed to deeply live Jesus > everything.