A Church Renewal
As I have been reading the book of Acts again, I have been caught up in the expectant and vibrant faith of the early church. Their zest for Christ and for sharing His good news, their sacrifice and their ministry -- all draw me up short. The power of the Holy Spirit seemingly displayed every day in the lives of those first disciples amaze me. And I come away asking if this power, zest, and vibrant faith cannot be ours.
Then I go back to the first chapter of Acts. “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14. I turn to Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Moving ahead to chapter 3, “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer . . .” Acts 3:1.
It seems that wherever I read in the book of Acts, prayer is taking place. It was in prayer that they drew lots over Matthias. They were in prayer when the day of Pentecost arrived and the Spirit fell. While some were in jail, others were praying. After Saul encountered Christ, he spent three days in prayer. In that early church they prayed.
Over the past year, we have started to live out a renewed vision here at First Free. We want to be a church that is known for its compassion, a servant society that pours out its time and wealth for the common good of the city. Together, we desire to be an outpost, a people sent out for Christ; a signpost, a people that point to Christ; and a lamppost, a people that shine the light of Christ everywhere they go. We envision First Free teaming up with other like-minded churches and together becoming a force for the gospel in the Twin Cities.
So how do we do that? That vision seems impossible. Where will the power come from to accomplish it? It will only come through prayer. Renewal of our church and of our city requires corporate, prevailing, intensive, kingdom-centered prayer. It is prayer that is focused on the church and the kingdom and the city.
R.A. Torrey said, “Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all pray.” Prayer is the driving force behind all the power and the miracles and the expectant faith in the early church. And if we truly want to have a city shaping movement of the gospel, we are going to have to pray.
Are you devoted to prayer as your driving force? Are we as a church desperate enough to want to be like the early church with its power, its zest, and its faith? Do we want to be full of the Holy Spirit? Then we have to pray.
This next year of 2015, as we continue to flesh out our vision, I would like to challenge you to commit to prayer; corporate, prevailing, intensive, kingdom-centered prayer!