My dear friends,
One month in, and I am so grateful to say that God is already at work! As one member put it, “God is already decreasing the critical atmosphere and divisiveness which have characterized our church for so long. That spirit is beginning to change.”
In our Wednesday morning Bible study, we have been studying the prayers of Paul who was quick to praise God for fruit only God could be responsible for, and I have to tell you, this is that kind of fruit! We have a long and uncertain road ahead, and who knows what is around the next turn. But, so long as we together confess, “God, whatever you reveal, we will admit. Whatever you ask of us, we will do,” we can expect God to do what only he can—to bring LIFE.
One of our first priorities in this season of DISCOVERING and ABIDING has been to develop and implement an intentional prayer strategy. After all, revitalization requires the Spirit of God to move in power, and prayer, both personal and corporate, is the means he uses to provide.
For example in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, we read these words from Paul:
 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.  You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Notice two things here. 1) Paul is confident God will deliver him as he has in the past, and yet he expects that provision will come as the Corinthians “help [him] by prayer.” This leads to question and the second observation. 2) Why does God require prayer if he already knows Paul’s need? “… so that many will give thanks on behalf for the blessing granted.” In other words, When God’s people desperately depend on God through prayer, God will receive the worship he is due.
We want God to receive every ounce of glory his name deserves, and we don’t want to miss his provision amidst furious planning. Therefore, friends, let me encourage us all not to neglect this central task. In fact, many have asked what role they have in what God is doing here at Bayless, especially those who feel physically incapable to be of much help. Brothers and sisters, I don’t know if you realize or value this, but amidst long, difficult days in which energy only wanes, God has freed you for strategic, ongoing, dependent prayer. I have to tell you, I am blown away by a few of you who have joyfully taken this on this role in our church. I even receive text messages, emails, and phone calls from you during the week, praying specifically for me and for our church.
It makes me think of a now famous story from Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s life, a Baptist pastor who led London Metropolitan Tabernacle in the late 19th century. As Pastor Rick Grover notes,
It is not an exaggeration to say that thousands came to Christ through [Spurgeon’s] preaching. Some worship services drew as many as 10,000 people at a time.
But Spurgeon never took credit for the success of his ministry. Instead, he always pointed to the hundreds of people who came during the services and prayed for God’s blessing. He said any success he had come from God in answer to their prayers. Spurgeon was often fond of calling these prayer gatherings the church’s “boiler room.”
In Spurgeon’s time, steam was the power source of the day. Boiler rooms were the powerhouses, the driving forces of everything from vast machines in factories to household heating systems. Boiler rooms, however, were not pleasant places to visit. They were functional, dirty, and hot; often tucked away in the basement. Likewise, Spurgeon saw the prayers of his people as the spiritual power behind his preaching and ministry.
Church, will you help me build our “boiler room?” We need saints committed to praying intentionally, strategically, and dependently for our church and for the work God still has to do through our church in our city. Would you be willing to join me? Toward this end, I want to draw your attention to three opportunities:
1) The Boiler Room Huddle. Starting next Sunday, July 8th, at 9:00am (15 minutes prior to Sunday School) in the main sanctuary, we will be offering an opportunity to gather together to pray for our corporate worship and to cheer one another on to love and welcome whoever God might bring through our doors. While there will be an opportunity for you to pray aloud, please know I will not put you on the spot. Would you consider joining me in lifting our corporate worship up to God for his glory?
2) The Bayless Prayer Guide. On a weekly basis over the next several months, I will be providing a prayer insert with the bulletin, summarizing specific ways we can be praying together over the upcoming week. I encourage you to work these into your daily routines—once a day praying for one of these requests on your own, with your family, with your Sunday School class, prayer partner, etc. Will you join the rest of the church in united, strategic prayer?
3) Prayer Partners.
Even before coming to Bayless, a few of our members were already meeting together during the week to pray. In fact, I have had the privilege of participating in one of these gatherings on Wednesday afternoons, and it consistently leaves me humbled and grateful for how God is at work. God wants to see these kind of gatherings multiply! I want to invite you to consider joining with 1-2 other people in our church to begin praying at least once a week together. It can be over the phone or in person, and if you are interested in participating, please reach out to me, and we will connect you with others committed to praying together. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Would you consider locking arms with others in prayer?
Friends, what a great God we serve who hears and responds to his people’s prayers. Would you join me in praying this hymn:
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
In Christ for God’s glory,