We are about to embark on a journey as a church. It’s not a new journey for churches to go on. In fact, this is a journey that started the first church. After Jesus had come back to life, he spent 40 days with the disciples before he ascended to heaven. During this time he spoke to them about the Kingdom of Heaven. Before He ascended He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until He sent the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.
That’s exactly what they did. I imagine it wasn’t easy. Especially on the 9th day. It would have been hard to be patient while living in a hostile town. They were in a town that not to long ago had viciously murdered their leader. It was like choosing to stay in a town where people were trying to catch you and kill you. It was like that because it was most likely that.
But Jesus told them to wait, so they did. He had a plan for them, and He wanted them to go about His business in His way. His plan was bigger than they could have ever imagined. He hadn’t told them much about it, at least not that we have written down for us today. They knew they would be building Christ’s church. But, there wasn’t a big plan for it. There wasn’t an organization chart, by-laws, votes or any of the other stuff we have come to associate with church.
That is the journey we are going to embark on, with a mild adjustment for us. Since we don’t have the benefit of hanging with Jesus for the first 40 days, we are going to commit to a significant time of prayer. We already have the Holy Spirit, so we’re not waiting for the filling of the Holy Spirit. So, we will spend time praying and reading scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us in times of prayer.
What are we waiting for? What are we praying for? The same thing the disciples were waiting for and praying for. Kind of. Of course they were waiting for the Holy Spirit. But, what they were also waiting for was the start of the church. They were waiting for the first step. They were waiting for God to lead them to do what He wanted them to do.
We know that we are a church that is going to be Christ to our community. But, we need God to lead us in the right direction to do that. We need to know which way to step. We don’t need the whole game plan, but we do need the first step.
I’ll be honest and upfront with you. God has been at work in the leadership of our church, giving us ideas and plans and systems and structures for this next phase of our church. God is very much at work in our body. God is very much at work in preparing something for us to do. But, if we’re going to truly honor God – which is the reason we do anything and everything as a church – we must allow Him to be the head and not the ideas and scheming of man’s ideas.
So, we are going to pray patiently for God to lead us as a church, and for God to lead the leadership of our church. Sunday, May 19th is Pentecost Sunday. On that day we will have a prayer service, where we come together as a church to cap off our time of prayer. But up until that day, I want us to commit to praying three times a day for our church and for the direction He wants us to go. Morning. Afternoon. Evening. It doesn’t have to be a long time of prayer, but we need to commit ourselves as a church to God over an extended period of time.
And this is how I want us to end our prayers, if you do nothing else over this time, pray this prayer that Paul prayed in for the church in Ephesus for our church:
“14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”