One of my favorite things I am going to remember about this church in Australia is how often and how fervently they pray.
Before and after every service, I watch as the worship leaders and any other church member who is interested, enter a small room off stage together where they pray. I think it’s easy to remember to pray before a service, because nerves are present and there are so many unknowns with how the Lord will work in that hour, but I love how it is just as important to them that they pray together after.
Beyond these moments, I haven’t been a part of a meeting or ministry get-together where this church hasn’t welcomed the Lord’s activity before and after each meeting. Cleveland Baptist (CBC) is not trying to do church without their King, and they won’t dare move without His go-ahead. That’s powerful.
Having observed and loved this during my first few weeks here, I was not at all surprised when this church answered the Lord’s call to daily prayer meetings, where all members are invited to come for a specific hour during the day to seek God together. In this seeking process, CBC is simply wanting to grow together toward Jesus while coming to a better understanding of what God specifically wants from this body of believers. It is a re-visioning process for the church, and I have thanked the Lord daily that I get to be a part of it.
There are few things more beautiful than believers coming together to cry out to their creator. I have been to a handful of these meetings, and my expectations are blown away each time. Here are a few things I’m loving about them:
1. There has been a consistent showing of both younger (college age students) and older church members at each meeting. Most of them I have been to were evenly split. With this comes a wide range of spiritual maturity and I know I can speak for the young adults in saying that listening to the elders of the church pray has been incredibly eye opening and refreshing.
2. You can learn so much about someone through their prayers. People come to the Lord with such different attitudes and stories and even beliefs about Him, and I continue to be amazed by the people of this church and how God has so beautifully brought them together for a common purpose.
3. I have learned to listen. Listening has never really been difficult for me, but there is a different kind of listening involved during these moments. Not only are you listening to peoples’ prayers, but you’re listening for truth and God’s voice through their heart cries. You’re listening for the Holy Spirit who reveals Himself in the most spectacular and unexpected ways. Like our Pastor Mark said, it’s after everyone has prayed the routine prayers in the beginning, when everyone has run out of the “right” things to pray that you really begin to sense God moving.
4. Praying together means growing together. Talking to God with someone else is one of the most intimate things you can do together. So, naturally, a church who prays together, grows together. There are relationships forming among the different generations at our church that would have never been made without these meetings. Despite different opinions of worship styles and even different theologies, we come together seeking Jesus, and our differences suddenly seem petty.
I could easily go on. We are two weeks into our prayer meetings, and transformation is evident! My heart is continually being humbled, and I am realizing more and more that God isn’t wanting fancy or mature words. He wants us, and we are invited just as we are.
After each meeting, the group comes up with a few sentences to sum up what we believe God said during that hour. We are writing them on a giant white wall that stands at the back of the church, available for anyone to come by and read during the week.