The first pastor of Church of the Open Door, Dr. Reuben Archer Torrey, declared, “Prayer is God’s appointed way of obtaining things, and the great secret of all lack in our experience, in our life and in our work is neglect of prayer.”
This is hard for me to hear. Is this hard for you to hear?
Have you noticed that very little in our culture and our own flesh lends itself to prayer?
In our frantic pace and schedule, when we do slow down, prayer feels uncomfortable and awkward. We prioritize efficiency, accomplishments and production, and prayer doesn’t always accommodate those things. Prayer can feel ineffective and everything in us cries out, “Get something done!”
I don’t have everything figured out when it comes to prayer, but I want to remind us all of the words of Jesus as we begin this year thinking about how we can get something done.
In Jesus’ teaching on prayer, we are called to abide in Him (dwell intimately with Him – John 15) and to seek His will (your kingdom come, your will be done one earth as it is in heaven – Matthew 6.) And when Jesus Christ, our Savior, the co-creator of the universe tells us to pray, we are told to expect what we pray for.
In the Upper Room Discourse in John, three statements from Jesus drive the theology of prayer:
- If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (Jn. 14:14)
- You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. (Jn. 15:16)
- Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (Jn. 16:24)
What does Jesus teach us about prayer?
Jesus is teaching His friends to ASK, to ASK with confidence, to ASK knowing that we will receive, that our joy will be full. Jesus is almost irritated. He is saying, you’re not asking me! ASK, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. Jesus is saying that the problem is not Him or His willingness to provide. The problem is us. We are not ASKING!
The elders and pastors of Church of the Open Door are convinced that our primary ministry and calling as a church is to ASK. We believe we move ministry forward through bold prayers that we call Breakthrough Prayers.
Every year we go through a lengthy process to determine what God is asking us to pray for as a church family. The Breakthrough Prayers for 2022 are as follows:
We will be preaching through the Gospel of Luke for the next two years. To introduce His ministry, Jesus identifies Himself as the Isaiah 61 Messiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Luke describes the love of God in action as Jesus releases the marginalized to worship and serve Him. Our first prayer is to connect and release our church family to be hands and feet to the marginalized in our immediate community. We are trusting that God will release our new hearts, created in Christ Jesus, to care for the poor, to encourage those with disabilities, to reach those who are on the outside looking in.
Here is what God has accomplished over the past four years:
Date Approximate Loan Balance
Jan 2018 4,490,000
Jan 2019 3,760,000
Jan 2020 2,620,000
Jan 2021 2,137,000
Jan 2022 1,320,626
God is working in powerful ways through the faith of many in our church family. Thank you for being a part of this!
We’re excited to prayerfully consider ministry opportunities that become possible once our mortgage is retired . . . expanded overseas missions outreach, deeper engagement with our local community, and addressing pressing needs on our property.
Next week we get to send a team to the Nyamwezi to build relationships, identify needs and help our church family better know, love and pray for the Nyamwezi!
This trip will provide experience for some of our missionaries in training and allow them to serve alongside Andy and Margaret and their team. Our team will be teaching at the Tabora Bible School, in English & religion classes, and in children’s ministry.
Our prayer is that as a church family our hearts would be connected with the Nyamwezi, and that we there would be opportunities for all of us to serve and engage.
4. Father, help us walk worthy of our calling, maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In churches all over the world, people are dividing over political, racial and Covid issues. Instead of pressing into the messiness of hurt, unmet expectations and broken relationships, people instead are bouncing from one church community to another church community, avoiding and undermining the real work of unity.
Nowhere are we ever told to create or build unity; we are told to maintain and protect what Jesus has already established among us. We as leaders feel an urgency to pray that we would maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We are praying that each of us would walk worthy of our calling and seek peace as much as it depends on us.
I want to challenge you to memorize these four Breakthrough Prayers and pray them often with us this year.
Pray them with your kids and grandkids and with your HUB group and Bible class. Pray them on the way to work and as you begin your workout in the morning.
And as we pray, let’s pay attention to what God does. I want us to notice the big and small movements and victories of the Holy Spirit.
Let us ask as a church for the Spirit to move among us that our joy may be full!
P.S. We are living in challenging times. If there is a way I can be praying for you and your family, I would love to know and to partner with you.