- Phone: 703.539.2393
- Mailing Address: PO Box 3560, Fairfax, VA 22038
- Sunday Gatherings: Frost Middle School - 4101 Pickett Rd, Fairfax, VA 22032
If you have been around Sojourn for a while you probably remember the following story given in one of Justin’s sermons.
"Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn't want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon.”
I think we can all agree that there are some great things going on at Sojourn right now. Our church is growing, Man School and Restore are up and running again, community group attendance is high, and people are serving in a wide range of capacities. But in the midst of all that’s going on I want to ask you a simple question: are you praying for our church? It’s very easy for us to be involved in all sorts of things within the church, all while missing out on the single most important thing: going before God in prayer.
Why should we pray?
It seems like a silly question but I think it’s definitely one worth answering, so here’s my shot at it: through prayer the purposes and the power of God are brought forth into our church.
In Matthew 6:9-10 Jesus says, “ Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
When teaching us how to bring petitions before the Father, Jesus shows us that the first request out of our mouths should be, “may your kingdom come, may your will be done”. Often our requests are primarily centered on our lives and circumstances (which we should indeed bring before God) but have little to do with the purposes of God being accomplished in our midst. Jesus was teaching us that our praying should be prioritized with God’s will unfolding in the world.
Not only are God’s purposes accomplished through prayer but His power to accomplish those purposes come through prayer as well.
Consider 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 with me, "To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power.” Here Paul is praying that the churches resolve for good and that their work done in faith would be filled with the power of God. In other words, its not enough that the church is busy with good works, but those works must be filled with the power of God for them to be truly effective.
Think about how this could play out on a Sunday morning. Every Sunday we are working to make Jesus known in many ways, encouraging one another, singing, sharing the gospel in Sojourn Kids, preaching the Word, coming to the table together, and so on. These are all great things but in order for them to be effective they must be empowered through His Spirit. Paul is demonstrating in his prayer for the Thessalonians that in order for God to empower our church we must pray. Do you simply assume that the Holy Spirit is in everything we do, or do you, like Paul, plead with God that it would be so?
How should we pray?
Pray for our church in secret: I’d like to say that I want Sojourn to be known as a “praying church” but that wouldn’t be appropriate. Prayer is not something you are known for because it’s primarily done in secret. Prayer is the unseen foundation of the church that holds everything else we do in place. It goes unnoticed by most but its effects will be evident everywhere.
Pray for our church together: There was a time that members of our church would gather before every service and pray together. Unfortunately this practice has taken a hiatus. I think we need to get this going again. Whether it’s done before the service at Frost or throughout the week in peoples’ homes, there is something powerful and enriching about gathering believers together and praying for our church. I hope the story of Spurgeon and the college students is a meaningful reminder of how important our collective prayer can be in the life of our church.
Pray for our church like Paul: I don’t know about you, but I’m often not sure what to pray for. I’ll lift up a couple requests and then run out of things to say. Thankfully the apostle Paul has giving us a catalogue of the prayers he prayed for the church all throughout his letters. A great way to fill our prayers with meaningful and effective content is by praying for the same things Paul prayed for, but over Sojourn. Here are a few Pauline prayers to get you started:
(2 Thes. 1:11-12, 1 Cor. 1:4-9, 2 Cor. 1:3-7, 2 Thes 3:9-13, Col. 1:9-14, Eph. 1:15-23)
Let us continue to go before the Lord in prayer asking that His purposes would be done in our midst as He fills us with his power so that Jesus gets all the glory.