Opportunities for Prayer
The Bible says God desires his people to pray, not just as individuals, but as a gathered people. That is, he intends them to regularly gather together for times of prayer. As we read the New Testament, we see commands directed the church, “[pray] at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph 6:18), “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col 4:2), “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17), “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,” (James 5:6), “pray in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). In other words, pray, pray, pray!
More than just following a command, we should see that as a great blessing and an encouragement. Did not Jesus teach his disciples a parable so that they would pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1)? Did not he also teach about the goodness of God and his delight in answering prayer? “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:7-11). Did not Jesus promise that if we ask anything in his name that he would give it to us (John 14:13)? Did he not say, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). Is it surprising then to find in the Bible and history that the greatest outpourings of God’s power have almost always occurred as the result of meaningful, corporate prayer? We are convinced that more ministry is not accomplished, more saints are not matured, more souls are not saved, all because we do not pray as we should. James said, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (4:2-3). And yet Jesus said that God desires his people to be a “house of prayer” (Matt 21:13).
At Crossway, we desire to make “prayer the visible engine of all our efforts in ministry and worship.” We do not simply want to have ‘prayer ministries’ at our church. Instead, we desire to live and serve in prayer. We desire to have all of our ministries bathed in prayer, from beginning to end. Whether you’re in a Bible study, a missions celebration, a worship service, or at a workday, you will find prayer playing a significant part of it. Our desire is to see everyone in the church is involved in prayer in some way. Thus, pray is central to our strategy for reaching the lost and growing disciples and we try to offer several opportunities for our people to be involved in prayer.
Opportunities for Prayer at Crossway
Monthly Prayer Service
We meet on first Saturday of each month (unless otherwise announced) for a time of gathered prayer. We begin by hearing from God’s word so that our prayers will be driven by his will for our life. We desire to prayer with heartfelt compassion for real needs and a clear vision of kingdom priorities. The rest of the service is a blend of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and intercession for the needs of our church and the needs of others.
Community Group Prayer
Sunday evenings are set aside for us to gather together in community groups around the city. There we interact on a more intimate level in Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. Our goal is that it will be easier to become more involved in one another’s lives, and encourage one another to godliness. Part of that encouragement involves praying for one another.
One person has said that prayer walking is “Praying on-sight with insight, nearer and clearer.” The kind of prayer walking we engage in is not a Christianized version of pagan beliefs and practices. We are not interested in territorial spirits or claiming city blocks for Christ. Instead, prayer walking is a method for prayer that allows us to see firsthand the needs that should be prayed for. It allows us to see what we cannot imagine at home, which means we can pray more effectively. It also puts us in the midst of the request and so pulls in our affections and unites our hearts and minds in prayer. Prayer walking allows us to see the harvest fields and be emboldened to pray to the Lord of the harvest. Prayer walking is a crucial step in our plan to reach Bay City with the gospel. We believe it is essential for God move in people’s hearts to prepare them to receive the gospel (John 3:5-8, 6:44). Therefore, we desire to continually intercede for the city – asking that God shine the light of his glory into the hearts of sinful men that, as they hear the Gospel, they might rejoice in Jesus Christ as their Savior and King.
In 2007, Crossway entered into a partnership with some of our international missionaries and the people they serve – the Tamashek people of West Africa. In addition to sending mission teams to Niger to work with the Tamashek people, our partnership involves a specific commitment to prayer. Like us, the missionaries believe the power of God is revealed in answer to prayer. Therefore, their mission efforts must be empowered by the prayers of God’s people. Through this prayer partnership, we pray for both the spiritual and physical needs of the missionaries and the Tamashek people.
Monthly Prayer and Fasting
The church in Western culture often seems spiritually feeble. We have an incredible number of churches, resources for churches, conferences for church, but we seem to not have a very mature church! We need to be re-energized by God himself. We need him to send a fresh outpouring of his Spirit in revival.
Let me be clear what we mean by revival. I am not speaking of revivalism – revival meetings, evangelistic campaigns, etc. These things can be helpful, but they are distinct from biblical revival. In his book, Can We Pray for Revival?,Brian Edwards offers an excellent definition of revival when he says that true revival is a “sovereign work of God’s Holy Spirit, producing an unusual awakening of spiritual life among God’s people, resulting in an awesome awareness of God, a sincere repentance for sin, a deep longing for God and holiness, and an effective passion to reach the unsaved.” In other words, revival is “a people saturated with God.” Scripture teaches that true revival is a sovereign work of God. That means it cannot be scheduled or managed; God cannot be manipulated into sending revival. By its very nature, true revival cannot be controlled by us.
If we cannot control revival or bring revival, what are we to do? We can pray for it! This is the pattern we see in the Scriptures – God’s people pouring out their hearts to him in prayer to send revival (e.g. Joel 2:12-17; 2 Chronicles 14:4; Daniel 9:17-19). God may choose not to send revival; we don’t know. But one thing we know for sure is that unless we show him that we really want it, he never will send revival. Thus, while we cannot predict or plan revival, we can prepare for it. So, we ask our members to voluntarily set aside the first Thursday of the month to fast and pray for revival.
Seasons of Prayer
At various times, Crossway will have special-called times for prayer. Sometime this involves a week of prayer, with focused prayer for certain ministries or situations. Other times it may be a day of prayer, or a solemn assembly. In addition to the regular teaching ministry of the church, Crossway will occasionally offer some kind of extended teaching/training on prayer. Usually, a prayer guide is handed out, which helps the entire church to be focused in their times of prayer.