This past Sunday, we initiated a special call to prayer at Cottage Grove Church, prayer for spiritual renewal. God has given me that call many times in my life and maybe to you as well. In times of hardship and hurt, times of question, when the future seemed so uncertain, God would call me to pray. And I believe He is doing that for us right now as a church. We need God. We need His healing touch. We need a fresh movement of His Spirit. We need to pray.
We saw this in the life of Jesus’ disciples. After his ascension, Luke tells us in Acts 1,
“12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
This group had experienced a stunning turn of events. The last 40 days had been a whirlwind of fear, profound loss, and confusion. Jesus’ had died a brutal death and was resurrected. They saw him alive, walked with him for 40 more days, and then watched Him ascend to heaven. I would imagine as they came back into Jerusalem and climbed the steps to the upper room, there was a sense bewilderment, sadness, and uncertainty. Jesus is gone. I am not sure they fully understood what was going on or what would happen next. And so, what did they do? Maybe the best thing. They prayed.
And God often brings us or even a church to that point where the only sure thing we know to do is pray. The kind of environment we are in right now at Cottage Grove. Asking God to bring healing. Asking God to bring unity. Asking God to pour out His grace, to give wisdom, to restore. And when we pray this way, when we have experienced deep loss, when the future seems uncertain, God often does the unexpected, always faithful to unfold His plan and purposein His time and His way, for His glory.
And so, there are two basic kinds of praying we find in Scripture: personal prayer and corporate prayer. As you read the story of the Bible, here’s what you discover. Times of revival and spiritual awakening, times of healing and renewal, a fresh movement of God’s Spirit almost always seem to rise out of periods of corporate prayer among God’s people.
The Point: Fresh and unexpected movements of God often arise out of the corporate prayers of His people.
Luke does not tell us what they prayed for in the upper room but based on Jesus’ parting words in Acts 1:8, we would imagine they were thinking about and praying about to primary things: a movement of God that is Spirit empowered and a movement of God that is missionally directed. Jesus told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” What Jesus had commissioned them to do to make disciples of ALL NATIONS could not be done in their own power or strategy. Only by and through the power of the Spirit. What Jesus had commissioned them to do in this world was for ALL NATIONS, a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic expression of God’s kingdom in the church as immediately fulfilled in Acts 2.
And so, this past Sunday, we gave a call to corporate prayer for the same two things in the life and Gospel-community of Cottage Grove:
Acts 1:8, is a mandate for every believer and every church. And Acts 1:8, continues to be our mandate and our mission: to see the Gospel spread by Word and Deed throughout the city of Des Moines; to be loving neighbors where we live, work and play in order to display to the world the love that Christ has poured out on us and to value diversity by embracing the unity in diversity we have as God’s image bearers.
We believe the most significant thing God does at Cottage Grove moving forward will come as a result of God’s people coming together to pray. We are encouraging you to make corporate prayer for a fresh movement of God’s Spirit, the focus of your gatherings for the next few weeks: in your family, in your Connection Groups, in your friend groups, and in the leadership gatherings of Cottage Grove.
We have also designated the next two Wednesdays as days of fasting and prayer. Whether you skip one meal, all meals, or do a liquid fast, the importance of fasting is focused prayer. To help equip you for prayer, we are providing the prayer guide used this past Sunday along with other prayer resources that might be helpful in developing your life of prayer both personally and corporately.
“Hallowed be your name” – Worship
“Your Kingdom come” – Perspective
“Daily Bread” – Dependence
“Forgive us as we forgive those” – Fellowship (with God and others)
“Lead us not into temptation” – Purity
“Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory” – Faith
Adoration: God, I worship you and I praise you for who you are. You are . . .
Confession: Lord, I have not always lived in a way that pleases you. I have not always followed your will and commands. I have not always treated You and others with goodness and integrity. I have often wanted my will and my way, and not yours. I confess that I have . . .
Thanksgiving: Lord, when I stop and think about all you have done for me, it is pretty amazing. Even in the midst of the difficulty and the stress of life, I thank you for . . .
Supplication: God, you are great! You are powerful and mighty! You can do anything. As I bring my needs and the needs of others before you, I want to ask according to Your will. Give me the grace and the power to . . .
Give me wisdom and discernment, Biblical insight and godly counsel as I make decisions about . . .