Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
It is a privilege to be part of a church that is committed to becoming a "house of prayer". We are seeking to saturate every aspect of what we do with prayer. It is a long journey and we've tried a few things that haven't worked all that well, but for the most part we have enjoyed taking a few positive baby steps along the pathway.
To that end, we create a Congregational Prayer Summit experience for our church family twice a year. Several of these weekend forays have been experiments into encouraging families to pray together in the context of a larger "summit" feel the we call "Family Prayer Summits".
The venue of one Family Prayer Summit was at our Senior Pastor's horse farm. We took a Friday night and Saturday morning, invited families to bring their kids grade 3 and up to come to the farm. We provided childcare at the church for the younger kids. Friday night was a fast-paced "Fresh Encounter" (Daniel Henderson / Strategic Renewal - style www.strategicrenewal.com) gathering with a worship band, a focus on scripture and prayer in short segments. Phil Miglioratti (www.nppn.org) facilitated our time together. We were committed to keeping the evening high-energy and fun. We had a roaring bonfire and all the accoutrements of an outdoor, "at the farm" feel. The next morning we reconvened at the farm for a morning of large group prayer, family prayer while walking through the farm's beautiful acreage, and life stage group prayer - for a different feel. Praying was the focus, but we also did some life stage training on how to pray more effectively as a family. The morning ended with a great barbecue lunch.
Another Family Prayer Summit had more of a "prayer journey" feel that focused on our city - Birmingham, Alabama. We gathered Friday evening at the church, where we played a fun family quiz game about the history of Birmingham. We then shared communion together in a creative way: Each family was given a copy of the day's Birmingham News and asked to find an article to which they could relate. The articles pointed toward a sin issue or an issue of need. The families were asked to pray about that sin or need and then bring the article and lay it at the foot of the cross as they came to receive the communion elements. In this way, they were identifying with the sin or needs of our city. The next morning, we reconvened at the church to load into buses and vans to travel to four different downtown parks: the civil rights park, the park at the county courthouse and city hall, a park in a spiritually challenging area of the city, and a park that overlooked the entire city that sits on a mountain. Prayer guides were created for each park and different issuses were addressed in prayer at each stop. The last stop included lunch. While we encouraged families to pray together, at some times during the morning we broke into life stage groups - mostly so the kids and teens could pray with their friends.
At both of these Family Prayer Summits, our families left excited about what God had done. It was so encouraging to see dads, some of whom were a little intimidated by the thought of leading a family prayer activity, really enjoy the process. Producing prayer guides to keep it simple was important. Staying focused on short segments that moved at a fast pace was also important.
For more information, resources and to see some photos check out www.FirstOfAll.org .