A friend whom I hadn’t seen or talked to in months sent me a beautiful e-mail the other day, mentioning that God had brought me to mind while he was on a run–he wrote that not only did he want to catch up over a cup of coffee sometime but he prayerfully added his hope that I would be a man of conviction fully empowered by the Holy Spirit to encourage someone who needed it that day.

He didn’t even  know last Saturday was the eve of the one year anniversary of my seizure on Father’s Day last year when my whole life changed in the span of one 5-7 minute seizure.

Two weeks ago, with my one-year check-up approaching, I was pretty anxious and uptight.  But today, the very day my results are to be read at the University of Chicago, I’m totally at peace, confident that God has been my Healer.  This change within my once-anxious, sleepless soul can only be explained by the power of prayer.  I’ve openly invited people at church and online through this blog to pray for me.  So thank you to so many of you who have been going to the Father on my behalf!  God’s answered beautifullyI’ve experienced some of the best rest over the last week that I’ve had in months.

I’m so encouraged that I serve a living and active God who speaks to me regularly by speaking through others in my church community He’s talking to.  And that He listens when I talk with Him in return.  Prayer is powerful and effective.

Wish I acted like I believed that more.  I long for both Christians and the Church to rediscover and renew (old-fashioned as it might be…) our commitment to prayer as a church community–not only in our own prayer lives, but as an eagerly expectant praying community.

I believe one of the most significant obstacles to Blanchard Alliance Church’s future will be our ability to rediscover the deep joy, inspiration and power found in prayerful Christian community.  While I think we’re beautifully committed to one another in our individual relationships and our various groups, I’m not as convinced that this love is translating to our “life together” as a whole church.  A lot of this is my own fault as our Campus Pastor in Warrenville.  I want to help us prioritize “life together”–starting with prayer.  But I haven’t done a consistent enough job lifting this value up at Blanchard.  Town hall meetings, social & fun seasonal gatherings, picnics at the park all help, but they don’t hold the power within themselves to bind us together as a community in Christ like prayer does.

  • When we start with prayer, lasting change happens by God’s power & authority
  • When we start with prayer, God moves the church toward a united, inspiring Kingd0m-driven vision
  • When we start with prayer, God heals His people.
  • When we start with prayer, God breaks our heart for people we know who don’t know Him like we do.
  • When we start with prayer, God opens our eyes to ordinary opportunities to transform the worn-out, overly-anxious, hyper-busy culture in many of our neighborhoods (and in our own lives…)

I’ve been incredibly inspired of late by the unbelievable instructions God gives to the people of Judah as to the kind of life they’re to lead as captives in Babylon…

“This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughtersIncrease in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.  Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.'”  (Jer. 29:1-7 NIV emphasis mine)

This is the quiet, ordinary, community-focused, prayer-driven kind of existence that we Christians are capable of living in North America today.  If we live like this as individuals and families, I refuse to throw in the towel, like so many others are already doing about the future of the Church here.

We don’t have to be destined to be a “post-God” culture like Europe.  Let’s turn the tide together with God’s culture-and-neighborhood transforming power, starting with prayer…