Several discussions lately have reminded me of deep, ongoing needs within our conservative Anabaptist churches. (I’m sure some of these needs are also present in many other churches, but I’m speaking from within my own experience.) I don’t have time to expand on any of these needs at present, so I’ll simply list them here as a series of short prayer requests.
Please join me in prayer as you are able, and also in doing all you can to be living answers to the needs of our churches.
Dear Lord of the Church, we implore you to remember the Church which you purchased with your own blood (Acts 20:28) and which you promised to build (Matt. 16:18)! We ask you to…
- Encourage our leaders who are growing weary with the weight of leading your flock, who have little strength left to feed the sheep.
- Raise up generous financial supporters to free our over-worked leaders to spend more time in sermon preparation, personal Bible study and growth, and counseling the needy saints.
- Show us that it is not laziness to prioritize Bible study and training over planting corn, and that sweat expended or money earned are not the ultimate measure of how much real work has been accomplished.
- Give us a fresh vision for intentionally training the next generation of church leaders to handle Scripture faithfully and shepherd the flock with skill and tenderness.
- Awaken a vision for intentionally discipling all the saints to do the work of the ministry according to their varied giftings.
- Give our leaders courage and wisdom to help our churches have honest and open conversations, breaking the silence about the many unanswered questions that are frustrating the saints.
- Teach us how to talk peaceably to one another about our differences of vision and understanding, rather than carefully avoiding a long list of taboo topics or stooping to personal attacks.
- Give us a fresh vision for Christ-centered unity without uniformity of culture, personality, or gifting.
- Provide patience for sincere young visionaries who feel muzzled.
- Provide new spaces for these young visionaries to live out the insights and passions you are giving to the church through them.
- Give courage to our elders to release the young leaders whom you are calling–to entrust them with freedom to take up the mantle and lead the next generation, making the kinds of weighty decisions that some of these same elders made in their own youth.
- Awaken a new vision for evangelism at home—but also, what is more, for becoming churches that are truly ready to incorporate new believers from the non-Anabaptist communities around us.
- Use new converts and new attendees to shake up our apathy about how we’ve “always done things,” forcing us to shape church policies for the purpose of serving others and not merely for our own personal comfort.
- Stir us to worship and mission, so that all that we are and do is defined by you and by the mission you have given to us–so that worship and mission defines our identity, our purpose for gathering, our sense of unity, our use of time and money, and all our conversations.
- Call us to repentance for our indifference to those within our ranks who are hurting from abuse or indifference.
- Expose hidden sins that are crippling our congregations, so that public repentance and/or church discipline becomes unavoidable.
- Call us to repentance for all our extra-biblical additions that are hindering us from welcoming those whom you have welcomed, from incorporating new believers, and from being one with other believers as you are one.
- Call us to repentance for ignoring in preaching or practice those parts of Scripture that make us uncomfortable.
- Call us to a fresh vision for trusting the Word and Spirit of Christ to guide, equip, and empower us as congregations.
- Raise up more laborers who are willing to bear the doubly-difficult and doubly-rewarding work of serving as leaders among your flock.
- Shake up all bench-warmers from our deadly apathy.
- Shake up all the little earthly kingdoms that are consuming our energies and excitement, until these kingdoms crumble and we are convinced to invest all our “eggs” in your kingdom.
- Deliver us from fleshly lusts, carnal pride, nationalistic nearsightedness, Facebook folly, fickle fears, and immobilizing ingratitude.
- Open our eyes to see everything from eternity’s perspective.
Oh Lord of the Church, we are weak and we are foolish! Enlighten us! Shake us up! Show us how sick we really are! Heal us from our many diseases! Keep our hope from dying! Help our unbelief! Give us new faith and hope in our resurrected, living, present, and coming Lord! Stop us from playing church! Call us to pick up our swords and join you in battle! Fill us with love as never before–love for you, love for each other, and love for the world for whom you died!
Sanctify the church, cleanse her by washing her with your word, and present the church to yourself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish! (Eph. 5:26-27)
In the name of Christ we pray.
And all God’s people said “Amen.”
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) (Rev. 19:6-8)
Thank you for serving Christ’s Church in prayer and in deed. Feel free to add your own prayers or comments below.
For Christ and his Church,