This year, Antioch as a church planting movement nationwide has sensed from the Lord a theme for this year, 2017, being ‘Lord, Teach Us to Pray - Again’. The catalyst to what God has done in and through the people of God has always been prayer; prayer fuels His activity around the nation and world. One of the words of the Lord that our church has carried over the years is that we would be a ‘house of prayer’ and would give the Lord no rest in prayer by seeking Him for His heart, vision, and purposes to be accomplished in this region.
As a movement, we are recommitting in the area of prayer and asking God to teach us again what it means to be devoted to prayer and truly intercede for the people of God in our community, our families, city, region, nations, and relevant issues in society. One way that our church has taken a practical step in this direction is through weekly Early Morning Prayer. For the past month, we have met early in the morning in Connect Groups in homes throughout the city and region spending time adoring God for who He is, asking for His heart in all things, repenting of sin, and praying the Word of God over each other, our community, this city and the region.
I believe these times have been hugely catalytic in cultivating deeper friendships in community as we fight together with one spirit for His Kingdom to come in our lives, families, and where we work and play. God has shifted our hearts from self focused individuals to people that look outward and see with the eyes of Jesus. The Spirit of God has poured more love in our hearts so we are able to truly love those around us. Our hearts have been expanded to dream with God and believe for Him to do far more than we could ever imagine possible. Connect groups are turning from sin and embracing righteous living out of a place of knowing we are His sons and daughters. Greater revelation of knowing that He is our Father and we belong to Him has increased confidence to ask of Him knowing He hears and responds to His kids. Our faith has increased as a result because we have a greater viewpoint of who God is and what He really is able to do.
One week, our Connect Group took the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and just prayed through each line. Praying Scripture over each area of our lives is powerful! If we don’t know what to pray, He teaches us and gives us the words to pray. Other CGs have tackled issues like racial reconciliation, believing that this is the year for unity to come and for systemic oppression to be lifted in great ways.
EMP is just the beginning of our church taking steps forward in learning how to pray this year - simply asking God - talking to Him about our lives and those around us. James 5:16 says that the prayer of the righteous person has great power as it is working. Your prayers are powerful and carry great impact. As a community, let’s continue to move forward in growing in prayer together - stay tuned for more ways and opportunities ahead to jump in together in prayer as a church. Everyone can enter in no matter where you are in your prayer journey. If this is something that is new for you, I would encourage you to just start with The Lord’s Prayer. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus responded with that prayer. Go through each line and pray each word:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Acknowledge Him as Father and you as His child - praise Him because He is worthy - with authority, declare His Kingdom to be done in every aspect of your life just as it is Heaven - ask Him for what you need - confess sin to God and be forgiven and choose to forgive those in your life - ask God for power to walk away from temptation and turn from evil ways.
You were made for this.
About the Author: Jessica McElfresh is the Young Adult Director at Antioch Ann Arbor. Her role is to facilitate community for young adults in the Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti region. Working as a Physical Therapist at the University of Michigan hospital, she is passionate about bringing hope and restoration to her patients. In her role as the Young Adult Director at Antioch, she is passionate about seeing young adults experience belonging as well as the love of Jesus in a heart and life transforming way and equipping young adults to make a long, lasting impact in their specific vocation and gifting.