This series will explore the values that shape missional communities at The Austin Stone. These values are rooted in the gospel and driven by our motivations to love God and love people. In this series, I will explore:
- Why Values?
- The Word
- Demonstrating the Kingdom
- Declaring the Gospel
As I discussed in the first post in this series, our values flow from our motivations and drive us to common practices. Prayer again is a seemingly obvious value for an evangelical church, yet I have found few churches who believe they have a strong culture of prayer.
Why is it that almost every church knows we should pray, but struggles to establish it in the rhythms of their life together? I could answer this in a myriad of ways, but here are a few reasons I think we struggle:
- Prayer is an act of intimate communion, and isn’t easily quantifiable. Without a metric of success in our culture, it is difficult to feel like we’re measuring up.
- Prayer is often talked about, but rarely modeled in corporate church life.
- Intercessory prayer is often highly individualistic, unguided and unaccountable.
- Prayer is often seen as “dessert” in community life, rather than the main course. Prayer often gets pushed to the margins and given leftover time.
Prayer is our communion with the triune God. Through the act of prayer, we as God’s children recognize God’s authority and holiness, plead for his will to be accomplished, and express our dependence upon him for salvation, provision, sustenance. We value prayer in missional community life because it is the expression of our love for and dependence upon God.
Prayer then, is not just something we do, it’s rooted in who we are. It’s not an event we attend, but it’s a regular rhythm of life, which means prayer needs to be weaved throughout our life together, not simply an added on component to a list of things we must do.
Practically speaking we embed prayer in our life together in a few ways. First, in the Life Transformation Group, we are interceding for one another and those who don’t know Jesus. During our Family Meal, we regularly try to practice communion and prayer together. We also want to share stories of ways in which God has answered prayer through assessments and other settings. Finally, we cultivate corporate prayer gatherings monthly where our sole objective is to intercede together corporately for different things that the Lord has placed before us.
I’d say that we struggle as much as any other evangelical church with cultivating life of prayer, but by the grace of God are seeking to establish a culture in missional community life that values prayer and has practices consistent with those values.
What have you found to be helpful in cultivating a life of prayer together as a community?