Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Pray.Network Interviewed Featured Member Pastor Milton Bost
Milton is Pastor at Chatham Baptist Church, Chatham, IL
PRAY.NETWORK ~ You caught my attention when I read this in your weekly pastoral emessage: "No sermon notes this week." Half seriously, half kiddingly I replied, "An extended prayer time?" What happened that Sunday?
PASTOR MILTON ~ Our Prayer Coordinator, Dick Lantz, and I last fall decided that we would have a March prayer emphasis leading up to the Easter season. For three Sundays, beginning March 3, I preached from Luke 11:1-13. Additionally we began a Wednesday evening study entitled Whisper, by Mark Batterson. However, we both agreed that preaching and teaching about prayer would be much more enhanced if we involved our people in actual prayer. We have a prayer group that meets on Sunday mornings at 8:30 AM, before services. We have a Wednesday evening prayer group as well. We have Saturday prayer sessions once every couple of months. We have constructed a prayer room just off the Sanctuary and a prayer garden between our church office wing and youth wing. However, the concept of the whole Sunday morning worship hour devoted to corporate prayer had, not our knowledge, never been tried. So, our Worship Pastor, DJ Shultz, and I put together a whole order of service (for our two worship services) that incorporated select church members reading selected Scripture, responsive readings, related hymns and special music, pastoral instruction and four phases of corporate prayer. The four phases were: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (very original, don’t you think?). Following the two services the comments from those attending were eye-opening. “I have been in a Baptist church all my life and have never experienced anything like this!” “Pastor, can we do this again. It was so meaningful.” “I have never experienced prayer like I experienced it this morning.”
PRAY.NETWORK ~ What format did you use as you redesigned your Sunday gathering? How did you involve the congregation? What about those who were guests or do not pray aloud?
PASTOR MILTON ~ As I said previously, we utilized the ACTS four phase approach. Adoration: Psalm 111 reading, Hymn of Praise (How Great Is Our God), Prayers of Praise voiced verbally from the congregation (at one point the Pastor led the congregation to raise their hands and pray in unison “Glory to You, O God. Praise Your, Lord.”), Responsive Reading 704 (The Baptist Hymnal), Hymn Seeking the Lord’s Presence (Give Me Jesus) [solo] Confession: Responsive Reading 694 (The Baptist Hymnal), Hymn of Confession (Heart of Worship/I’ve Never Been Out Of His Care [solo]), Contemplations on Confession (Confession instruction by Pastor), Prayers of Confession (Silence and altar call) Thanksgiving: Psalm 103:1-5 reading, Offering and Hymn of Thanksgiving (Give Thanks), Voices of Thankfulness (Utterances of gratitude to God as corporate prayer) Supplication: Responsive Reading 703 (The Baptist Hymnal), Congregational Supplication (following brief instruction, some grouped together in prayer, so laid hands on individuals facing challenges, some couples held hands and prayed together, some came to the altar), Hymn of Benediction (I Love You Lord) The format was such that no one was ‘put on the spot’. Participation could be in silence or verbalized.
PRAY.NETWORK ~ You indicated: "I had numerous people say they had never experienced anything like that." What was it about their experience that caused them to make such a statement? Were you surprise by the response?
PASTOR MILTON ~ I was anticipating that this would be a non-traditional worship experience for most, but I was surprised at those who said they had never experienced a service like this. In my own experience my home church would have Wednesday evening corporate prayer services somewhat similar to our Sunday service. What surprised me more were those who stated they had never had any corporate prayer experience. They seemed pleasantly surprised at how close they felt to the Lord and how special it was to be involved in prayer with others.
PRAY.NETWORK~ How would you counsel other pastors who want to venture a prayer-break-in experience?
PASTOR MILTON ~ We were very up-front with our congregation several weeks in advance preparing them for this service, so anticipation was high. I would encourage any pastor to take the time to preach, teach, coach their congregation first in preparation for such an experience. When we look at the ministry of Jesus, He didn’t teach people how to preach, how to teach, how to be a life coach. He taught his disciples how to pray. In fact, they asked Him to teach them how to pray. As pastors we need to be sure prayer is the priority for ourselves and lead our congregations to make it a priority. Prayer is foundational to the effectiveness of worship, evangelism, discipleship and the fellowship of the church. If Jesus is the Head of the Body, we should be in regular communication with Him.
PRAY.NETWORK ~ Could this (should this) become an often scheduled event for churches?
PASTOR MILTON ~ Phil, it’s interesting you should ask that. I have had several say to me “Pastor, we need to do this on a regular basis.” Our Prayer Coordinator and I will be following this suggestion for the future. If you look at the early Church in Acts, they spent a large part of their corporate gathering in prayer. Why should it be different for us? We might be surprised what Jesus can do with a congregation that diligently seeks Him.
PRAY.NETWORK ~ Please write a prayer we can pray for our own congregation . . .
PASTOR MILTON ~ Lord Jesus, when You were praying, one of Your disciples said to You, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” You are our Strength. You are our Help. You are the Head of the Body. We confess to You that we do not faithfully utilize the command to pray. We confess to You that we are sorely inadequate in our understanding of prayer. Yet Your Word says that ”the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” So, Lord, forgive us, lead us, and teach us to pray. By faith we trust You that as we seek You, You both hear and answer. Let our prayer be founded in our relationship with You and not our knowledge nor our training. Let us first seek You and Your Kingdom, trusting that You will mature us out of our inadequacies. You alone are Lord. You alone deserve the praise and glory. Humble us before You and build up the Body, Your Church, that we may be salt and light in this unsavory and dark world. It is in Your Holy Name, the Name that is above all names, Jesus, we pray. Amen
My hope is we make disciples who have relationship-based praying that has been enhanced by the teaching and training they receive. Too much teaching and training, in my opinion, becomes an end in itself rather than a catalyst for a greater pursuit of our God relationship.
Worse. Too much indoctrinating and controlling can become thoughtless dogma.