Prayer is always a significant component of our residency. Once a week the residents devote part of our cohort time to prayer. That is intentional. Church planting and pastoral ministry require a healthy and vibrant prayer life. Of all the skills that we could spend a year developing a regular life of prayer is at the heart of them all.
Prayer is front-lines work
Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma, made a practice of praying seven times a day, every day. Starting at dawn he would pray every three hours until midnight. There are plenty of others like him. David Brainerd’s journal is filled with passionate, heart-felt prayers and multiple accounts of days spent in fasting and prayer. John Wesley is known to have said that “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” Martin Luther said, “I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” The apostles established the office of deacons so that they could secure time for prayer (Acts 6:4). Most important of all, Jesus himself consistently pulled away from the “work” of his ministry in order to spend time in prayer.
Prayer is an expression of our dependence on God.
Paul Miller, author of A Praying Life, says that “dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.” In the classic work of spirituality Richard Foster says it simply: “we are utterly dependent on him.” If, on any level, we feel as though we are sufficient we have already lost the heart of prayer. Dependence on God drives prayer. And prayer reminds us of our dependence.
This is the most difficult part. Church planters (and, even, Americans) are notorious for their independence, their sense of self-confidence, and their willingness to endure ambiguity and uncertainty. But even trailblazers need to know their limits. No fundraising stop sin dead in its tracks. No strategy can raise the spiritually dead to life. No leadership skill or gravitas can turn enemies of God into followers of Christ. No charisma can wage war against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces.
But prayer can.
Prayer is an expression of our desire for God’s Kingdom
One of our values as a network is collaboration. We desire to promote partnership and not competition. Prayer reminds us that we are about God’s Kingdom and his work, not our own. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray the very first petition is for God’s Kingdom to come on earth. After glorifying God, prayer is about seeking God’s Kingdom in our week, our families, our churches, and our city.