Saturday, October 2, 2010

Share & Prayer Experience- Harvesting Meeting- September 12, 2010

a. What has been your experience with God during this process? What are words, phrases, or thoughts you believe are from God and what do these reflections mean for you and for Walnut Hills?
As I reflect over the past 100 Days of Prayer experience, I went back to the very first meetings journal notes and re-read the questions from that meeting and the answers that I had. The first meeting of my triplet asked some very hard questions right off the bat! One of those questions that has stuck with me throughout was this: What are your expectations and hopes for prayer triplet experience?
My answers to this question dealt mainly with prayer. I expected us to follow the example already set for us regarding prayer. Now when I say that- please understand I did not expect us to follow a certain format of prayer. I learned quickly in my triplet that each of us has very different styles of prayer, some of us like to pray by ourselves and in private, some of us like to pray with other people and for other people and some of us like to pray through other avenues such as music and some of us like to let others do the praying for us. Our triplet had a difficult start in regards to prayer. It was hard to get focused, it was hard to stay focused and it was very hard to pray together. None of us knew one another on that personal level- enough to share in prayer together. And we had to learn very quickly what one another’s comfort levels were in regards to prayer and how we each experience prayer in our lives.
Before we could move on this was a very important opportunity we had to grab onto. I say opportunity b/c I did not view it as an obstacle, but as a way to watch God move through each of us. Right away God was already teaching us and we were not even aware of it at the time!
As we learned with one another about prayer itself and practiced it, we began to notice things that we were doing just as Jesus did in His prayer time.
Jesus prayed for guidance in places of quiet solitude - “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35)
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
We of course prayed together, in a quiet place but with one another.
Jesus prayed for His disciples and for all believers -“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21).
We prayed for one another as disciples of God and for our fellow believers that were also praying in triplets.
Jesus prayed in praise to God, the Father - “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’” (Luke 10:21).
I think as things are revealed to us through this experience even beyond our own triplets- as I believe they will be, we will pray with praise for God opening our eyes and revealing His plan for our church.
Jesus prayed prayers of thanksgiving - “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks
and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body’” (Mark 14:22).
We prayed thankfully, that we have God to lead us and to trust in through this mission for our church.
Jesus prayed in a posture and with an attitude of reverent submission - “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39).
We prayed His will, not ours for our church… What would He like for us to do, What would He like for us to be?
Jesus loved His Father and communicated with Him often. He prayed for wisdom and guidance in His earthly ministry. Jesus prayed for God to strengthen his disciple’s ministry once He departed from them. He prayed with honesty and reverence. He prayed with joy and praise. But most of all, Jesus prayed with expectation. He knew the Father heard His prayers and would respond.
I believe God will hear us- all the prayer triplets, our ministers and our congregation as we pray seeking what He would have us do and be as a church now and in the future. I believe He will answer us and lead us in His direction. This is my expectation.

b. From this journey, are there particular areas that you believe God is calling us or gifting us to serve (Yes, we are called to go into the world but we cannot take on the entire world. So who or what direction has emerged in your personal or triplet’s journey)?
Particular areas that I believe God is calling us or gifting us to serve led me to research and really delve into what it means to respond to a call from God. Through studies, the bible, and articles and devotionals during my 100 days of prayer and share time with my triplet this is what I saw over and over:I noticed that one of God’s main objectives is a “restored” relationship and a close fellowship with Him.
Only by accepting and receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior will you ever be reconciled to God and be able to have a personal relationship with Him.
Jesus says in John 14:6: "I (Jesus) am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."- John 14:6
and in John 1:12: " to all who received Jesus, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." - John 1:12
Eternal life and being a Christian is not just about accepting Jesus as your Lord & Savior, then waiting around to go to heaven where you will live forever. It is about a relationship with God, and getting to know Him , and serving Him and obeying Him because you love Him.
Second I noticed that:
this was apparent throughout our study guides and it really was a strong thread in my prayer triplet as you may remember for those of you who saw our power point presentation a few weeks ago during the worship service where we emphasized this verse:
" For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has special plans for our lives, plans to bless us and prosper us; The next two verses spell out the necessary conditions for us to receive the benefit of His plans, "Then when you call upon Me and come and pray to Me, I will hear you. When you search for Me, You will find me; if you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
" God will instruct him in the way chosen for him." - Psalm 25:12
" You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." - I Peter 2:9
" For we are God's workmanship ("valuable masterpiece"), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10
I have also noticed over and over in my life experiences dealing with those who feel called by God that each person believes that:
" For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." - Philippians 2:13
(You will have a love & joy & passion for doing the things God has created you for & calls you to do)
And we have all had the “spiritual gifts” lesson, but it bears so much meaning if you find out what your gifts are and what you have a passion for- this is what God has equipped you with!
List of Spiritual Gifts
Administration: Discernment: Exhortation: Faith: Giving: Knowledge: Leadership: Mercy: Prophecy: Service: Helps: Teaching: Wisdom:
And I have also noticed that many people feel they are not fit for what God calls them to do. This is not true though- and what news could be better than that?!
"Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." - Acts 13:2
The Greek word for called means that God "called them unto Himself", first to a love relationship with God, and next to where His presence and His power would be at work. We only need to respond in faith and obedience, and God will provide the power and whatever else is needed to get the job done. Moses being called to help lead God's people out of Egypt is another good example of God's call and how God provided everything (see Exodus 3 & 4).
And lastly, I found that all Christians are in the same boat! We all experience doubt and confusion- but we are not truly following Jesus unless we are being fishers of men and an active witness for Jesus Christ, telling the lost about Him and sharing His plan of salvation with them. He also wants the church to teach and help others become fully devoted and passionate disciples (learners and followers) of Jesus Christ, so they will be fruitful witnesses and servants of His.
"Come follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." - Matthew 4:19
"Then Jesus came to them and said “All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” - Matthew 28:18-20

c. Remember – we are not trying to outline a vision in this harvesting phase – we are attempting to hear God’s call upon our lives. Our understanding of God’s call will lead us to be the church and do the tasks of the church.
In closing, I could read you the list of things that my triplet came up with that we feel are needs and areas in the church that we could move towards and projects that we could recommend taking on- but I think each of us in my triplet realized in the big picture: This experience is not about us. It is about reaching for God and forming or repairing or maintaining and improving our relationship with Him first and foremost. Then it is about letting Him lead us. We have to let go and let God. *we find our way by following God’s spirit!*

d. If it is helpful, as a triplet, bring an image that reflects your experience or reflections. Images often aid in communicating information and meaning.
I still really like our power point presentation that we showed during worship a few Sunday’s ago… and I think it still holds true even as we continue through this journey of pursuing missional faithfulness.

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