May 102010
 

Jesus Christ was certainly a man of prayer, the ultimate prayer warrior. The text in James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays that all who believe in Christ will “be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me…” Is this an unanswered prayer? Was it ineffective? If effective, what does unity look like?

In a new book by John Armstrong, Your Church is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church, the author meticulously walks through the Scriptures and church history to show what church unity has looked like. He wrestles with the more recent efforts at church unity among ecumenicals, and then among Catholics and Evangelicals. Armstrong’s concludes with his proposal for a vision of church unity best described as “missional-ecumenism.”

What is missional-ecumenism? There’s a whole chapter in the book that describes what this is. (I wasn’t able to find a concise definition over a web search, and I didn’t want to type paragraphs from the book.) One reviewer noted that: [B]y “missional-ecumenism,” the author means that believers should have relational unity with God and one another, including unity in our mission as God’s “sent ones.” The author described that A missional-ecumenist will focus on sharing in the unity of the Trinity with other believers with the intention that the church really becomes a community for outsiders. We exist for them!

A blog tour in March 2010 had kicked off over 75 blog posts about “Your Church is Too Small,” many with thoughtful reflection and critique of the book’s subject.

In a day and age where our society is buckling under a scarcity of time (cf. attention economy) I don’t see the momentum of the American church moving towards slowing down to build into the relational equity needed for unity around God’s mission for the world. Unfortunately, there are too many pressing concerns of sustaining the organizational side of a local church and the watching over doctrinal & theological purity. As beautiful as Jesus and John’s vision may be for unity of the church, it would take more than prayer to see this come to pass.

Feb 042009
 

Okay, that seemed to work pretty well.

Just joined with a few other twitterers (tweeps?) for an online prayer time at churchtok.com (powered by tokbox.com). I called for a prayer tweetup 30 minutes prior, and a total of 6 joined in: 3 with webcam (@knightopia, @daveingland, me), 3 guest users with voice only. We didn’t banter around. We just shared prayer requests. We prayed. Done in 15 minutes. We had a little chatter afterward. That was it. That’s prayer, pure and simple.

a representative photo

I’m realizing that I’m more of a “try it and see what happens” kind of guy. So this worked. Will do it again, and possibly regularly, as we see people join in prayer in the weeks ahead.

Here’s what we’ll do: next Wednesday, February 11th at 7:17pm Pacific / 8:17pm Mountain / 9:17pm Central / 10:17pm Eastern, we’ll join in prayer at churchtok.com . So that we can hit the (virtual) ground running in prayer, I’ve setup this wiki (powered by Google Sites) where we can submit prayer requests. Add a comment or contact me to get access.

This is an open prayer meeting, and as long as the technology can accommodate the people who want to pray, we’ll pray there.

Aside: actually, anyone could call a spontaneous prayer tweetup and go to churchtok.com .. so there you go, it’s probably more useful as a prayer room than a break room :)

Dec 172008
 

I was surveying different ways of praying, as I’m reinvigorating my prayer life (if you want to use that kind of venacular). I came up with these 7:

  • speaking: this is probably the most common as someone prays out loud, and others bow their heads and close their eyes in agreement; some Asian groups will pray with everyone speaking out loud at the same time
  • thinking: this is the kind of praying when they have a “moment of silence”
  • writing: you cacn pray by writing in a journal
  • typing: you can type into a document on your PC, or text it in a 99-cent iPhone web app called Pray and it doesn’t go anywhere (by Frog Army)
  • reading: you can read a Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, or Evening Prayer; aka Daily Offices
  • signing: 4141k25gwpl_sl160_ for those who are deaf, they’d pray with sign language
  • posturing: I’ve heard and seen this kind of praying from Doug Pagitt, who poses in yoga stances as a means of prayer; and even wrote up a book about it, BodyPrayer: The Posture of Intimacy with God

Are there any other ways to pray?

Oct 032008
 

My friend Jeremy Del Rio 2020 visionis a part of coordinating a collaborative effort called
2020 Vision for Schools, starting with prayer for public schools and mobilizing people to be an answer to those prayers. It’s looking really strong there in metro New York City and Chicago too, with lots of key leaders connected in.

I’ve met Jeremy on several occasions, and he comes across as a gentle giant, a soft spoken lawyer. But I know there’s a lot of fire and passion in him, and seeing the fruit of his labor, an amazing guy. Keep an eye on this one, and bring it to your community too.

I’ve been keeping up with a regularly scheduled visit with Dr. Brownley, a chiropractor. He was particularly impressed that I went in for a check-up without having any glaringly obvious “problem”, and I’ve been persuaded it’s a good part of everyday health. Going there is always a temptation to stop by Yogurtland next door. I’ve resisted it, most of the time.

And, a shout out and props for Soularize in a Box. A fascinating of conversations about what’s next in the church, a bit more out on the edge exploring what could be, not so much a case studies of practical how-tos, models, or formula to grow a church or improve ministry operations. Much needed research and development, me thinks. Always a heady trip to meetup with Spencer Burke and Theooze. I started listening to the CDs chock full of MP3 audios, but occasionally it’d skip and the audio quality is raw, which I think keeps it real. Not sure if it was my stereo or the CD.

Apr 062007
 

Today is Good Friday, and a most apt day to comment on this book I’ve been reading titled God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer by Pete Greig.

The introduction opens with Jesus’ own unanswered prayers, ultimately being forsaken and abandoned by God, gasping: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” He entered that darkness so that we can be brought into the light. My heart dropped at the end of Chapter 1, as he retold of a time when his wife had a seizure, and his own prayers were reduced to barely 2 words, “Oh, God.”

When it comes to prayer, I don’t need more theology, I need more empathy. It helps me to just read the stories of people and the kinds of prayers they pray in the worst of circumstances; it gives me the camaraderie and fellowship with other saints to know that prayers of genuine honest feelings are just as meaningful as logically affirmation of theological truths about God’s character, His creation, and dizzying circumstances. Pray truthfully, and honestly.

[disclaimer: I received a comp review copy]