Remaining a prayer movement

Monday, 21 May, 2012

Graham Cray's monthly e-xpressions column.

One of the great dangers for any movement within the church is that work which began in humble dependence on the Holy Spirit morphs into reliance on human competence. We are inclined to pray when we are out of our depth and not to pray when we think we know what we are doing. One of the hardest biblical texts to believe is Jesus' blunt statement

apart from me you can do nothing.

It is not surprising that he went on to say.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:5-7

I am convinced that the extraordinary development of fresh expressions in the church in recent years is an initiative of the Holy Spirit, in which we have been privileged to participate. I frequently say that we have caught a wave of the Spirit and that central to my job description are the words 'don't fall off'. There has been a renewal of missional imagination in much of the church, a willingness to risk new things for God and a discovery of new gifts and pioneering callings. All of this is evidence that the Spirit is at work. The core principles of prayerful discernment and incarnational mission have been gathered by watching what the Spirit has been doing, often at the frontiers of mission. These are essential but only remain fruitful if they continue to be carried out in humble dependence on the Spirit.

That humble dependence is expressed in prayer. When the 24/7 Prayer movement joined Fresh Expressions it was both recognition of the centrality of prayer and listening to God in our practice - and a challenge to remain true to this original DNA.

We know more than we did when we started. That is good, as there is no benefit in ignorance. But 'knowhow' does not win disciples or establish contextual churches. In that we are assistants to the Spirit. We are dependent on God for the things that only God can do. Prayer is not a device to get God's seal of approval on existing plans. It is not a preliminary stage until we know what to do. It is an expression of trusting dependence. 'Worry in the presence of God is not prayer' wrote Richard Foster. We are to pray in faith as we seek God's initial and continuing direction, whether for local mission or national priorities.

Our Hour of Prayer for fresh expressions takes place on the day after Pentecost. On the original day of Pentecost the Spirit was poured out for innovative, boundary-crossing mission 'to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth'. But the chapters which follow show how hard it was for the church to cross cultural boundaries. They were wonderfully blessed at home in Jerusalem but Samaria and the ends of the earth were not in their sights. Pray that, locally, nationally and internationally, we may not be blinded by all that has been achieved, and so miss the further imaginative steps that God intends. Pray for continual wisdom and courage from the Spirit.

Movements birthed in prayer are sustained in prayer. Fresh expressions birthed in prayerful listening develop and mature through prayerful listening. Praying pioneers make praying disciples. We are all too busy not to pray. Please join us on the 28th, not just for the hour, but as a renewal of your commitment to prayer.

+Graham Cray


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
We use spam protection. View privacy policy.