Participants: Ruthie Jacobsen (Host), Bill McClendon, Tim Garrison
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000360
00:02 ¤ ¤
00:28 Hello and welcome back. We're glad to see you for Issues and
00:34 Answers. We are so glad to be able to share this and it's an
00:39 important, very important topic to us. But I have a question
00:43 I want to ask you. How important is prayer in the mission of your
00:48 church. I don't know what church you go to, I don't know what
00:53 denomination you belong to but I want to ask you how important
00:58 is prayer in what you're about in your community and in your
01:03 church? Prayer really should be the basis for everything
01:08 shouldn't it? The undergirding of everything that we do in our
01:13 church whether it's evangelism, whether it's something for our
01:18 children, our couples or the women's ministry or the 50 plus
01:23 or whatever you call what you're doing for the older generation.
01:29 Prayer needs to be the power for the mission, everything we do in
01:36 our church, every outreach. Because God tells us in Psalm 25
01:42 that he is going to pour out his favor. You know because we
01:47 belong to his family we can expect preferential treatment.
01:52 If you were born into Bill Gates' family you could expect
01:58 preferential treatment, right? Because you are a child of
02:03 privilege. But because we belong to God's family we are children
02:07 of privilege. What a wonderful God. Today we'd like to talk
02:13 with you about prayer and mission, prayer and the mission,
02:19 our personal mission and the mission of our church.
02:23 Our guests today are again, thanks for coming, welcome back,
02:29 Tim Garrison and Bill McClendon.
02:31 Good to be with you again Ruthie.
02:33 From California and Oklahoma. So how important should prayer
02:41 be in the mission of our church?
02:44 Well it's critical. I mean it's foundational. It should really
02:48 be the beginning of anything that we do. We always start with
02:52 prayer. I like to say prayer is the answer because prayer really
02:57 is what prepares us, it's what inspires us, it's what guides us
03:01 You know we've been building bridges, of course, to other
03:06 people but we must remember that the first bridge we have to
03:11 build is to God and consequently we have to be in a conversation
03:16 with God in order to be clear on exactly the direction that
03:21 he's sending us. When we have made the church a
03:24 house of prayer, when prayer is the backbone of everything we do
03:31 then God is in control. Because it's not that we worship prayer
03:37 or we depend on prayer but we depend on God.
03:40 It's easy to forget that. It is easy. You know I come from a
03:45 church plant. I started a brand new church and we're about
03:49 eight years into it. But I would hate to admit that for the first
03:53 few years we were so busy doing the mission and doing other
03:57 things that prayer ministry wasn't even developed at that
04:01 time. It wasn't until our third or fourth year that we really
04:05 began to realize something was missing and it's not just
04:08 something that we add on. It has to be really foundational to
04:12 everything that we do. If we're not careful we forget about that
04:16 That we can be so busy doing the work of the Lord that we don't
04:20 have time to pray.
04:21 You know that is sad isn't it but we are all prone to do that
04:27 very thing, to be so busy for God that we don't have time for
04:33 God. Yeah, isn't that ironic.
04:34 And we think we can do anything with him? I mean that is totally
04:41 false. But how has prayer changed everything you do?
04:47 How has it changed your church service?
04:51 Again, it's something that we didn't have early on but I was
04:54 reading a book and it was talking about just in a church,
04:57 and think about it in your own church setting. How much time
05:00 do you devote to making announcements and other things
05:04 about church life and how much time do you devote to praying?
05:09 And I realized that as a very busy church, active church, we
05:13 spend 15 minutes talking about announcements, talking about all
05:17 these things and we would maybe spend a couple minutes in prayer
05:21 So we just decided that was not God honoring. If this is a house
05:25 of prayer we needed to really focus on that and we really made
05:29 that to be a part of our service eliminating announcements and
05:33 really calling our people to have an experience with God in
05:37 prayer. I hate to admit it but we model in a church what we
05:41 expect people to do. And if we leave it out of our church
05:44 service, if we leave it out of our community events as we come
05:47 together as a faith body what does that say to our church
05:51 family? That prayer isn't important.
05:52 I talked to a pastor about this not too long ago. He said,
05:59 Ruthie, my life as a pastor was miserable. He said I finally
06:04 told the Lord I'd rather be a farmer. I don't know why I ever
06:09 thought you were calling me to the ministry because this is not
06:13 it. I don't like these people, they don't like me. I'm out of
06:19 here. That was really where he was. About that time he got a
06:24 flyer in the mail introducing and inviting him to a pastors'
06:30 prayer conference at the beach in Oregon. He tossed it. He said
06:35 no I'm not going to be a pastor. This isn't for me. This is for
06:39 these guys that are pastors and I don't plan to be a pastor any
06:44 more. He had a church out in Jefferson, Oregon out in
06:48 beautiful green country over there. They have sheep and
06:53 cattle. His father was a farmer and he really wanted to be a
06:58 farmer. I was in his office. On his window sill he had little
07:03 miniature tractors of every kind That was his love. He just liked
07:08 the soil and liked the farm, but he did not like the interaction
07:12 with people. He said I didn't like those folks and he said
07:16 we tried everything but I was losing members all the time.
07:20 every time I'd lose some members I'd try a new program. And he
07:26 said nothing worked. They had a membership of something like
07:32 600, 500, but it was getting smaller, it was dwindling. Well
07:37 he got another flyer and he tossed it. Finally somebody
07:42 called him and they said are you going to this pastors' prayer
07:45 conference? He said, no I'm too busy, I don't think I'll do that
07:48 and they said well you know somebody has underwritten the
07:53 cost of all this. You have free housing, free travel, free
07:58 meals and there's no expense to the meetings. Why don't you
08:03 show up and go? He said you could go and spend some time
08:08 at the beach. They plan to give you a little bit of free time.
08:12 You could get out on the beach and just enjoy it. So he thought
08:16 what have I got to lose. I'll go to one meeting so that I
08:20 could report to whoever is paying for this, thank you very
08:24 much and just have a good vacation, have a good break. I
08:28 deserve a break, he said. So he went. The very first night
08:32 he went to the prayer conference meeting. It was just pastors. I
08:38 think I attended that one because I remember the spirit of
08:43 it and what was going on and it matches what he was experiencing
08:48 He said they would take one pastor at a time, there were
08:53 about maybe 200 pastors there, but they would take one pastor
08:57 at a time and he would sit on a chair and he would talk about
09:01 his needs as a pastor. People would surround him. These
09:06 pastors were struggling with real issues like pornography and
09:12 wasting time and financial issues and relationship issues.
09:18 They were just coming clean and they were saying if I'm going to
09:24 be a pastor I need help, I need prayer. Somehow the Holy Spirit
09:29 got through to him and the Lord seemed to say to him, Dee,
09:35 there's hope for you. You think you hate those people, you think
09:38 they hate you and it's just totally futile. But you haven't
09:46 tried prayer. You haven't tried to see what God can do. So he
09:54 stayed, of course, through the conference, didn't miss a
09:57 meeting and when he went back to his church he stood up in his
10:00 church and he said
10:02 I was going to leave the ministry because I wasn't
10:07 succeeding for you. Nothing was working. But we haven't tried
10:12 prayer. He said I want you to know that I want to try. I want
10:16 to see what God can do and I'm going to be here at the church
10:21 tonight and several nights a week and I'm going to be here
10:26 from 9 o'clock until 11 or 12 and we're just going to pray.
10:32 I don't have any agenda, I don't have any meeting planned. We're
10:36 just going to call out to God and ask him to help. I know that
10:39 there are people in this church that have needs that we haven't
10:43 addressed; we haven't even thought about it, but God knows
10:47 so come. We want to pray for you and I want you to pray for me.
10:51 I was sitting there across from his desk and he was telling me
10:55 this story. I said how many people came? He said I didn't
10:59 know if anybody would show up because I didn't think I had
11:02 that much collateral with them. But he said you know just about
11:08 my whole church family showed up. Because I guess they wanted
11:12 to really test me. They wanted to see if this guy was real.
11:17 We prayed for several hours. They came back the next night
11:22 and the next night and he said our church was slowly changing.
11:26 We were slowly understanding the power of prayer, the power of
11:31 love and the presence of the Lord. He said now I have 25
11:36 different prayer ministries that meet at different places,
11:41 different times around the city. We have groups of men that meet
11:46 and pray together over a breakfast meeting in a
11:48 restaurant. We have people that are praying in hospitals.
11:52 We have all kinds of prayer ministries. I said your church
11:56 is growing isn't it. He said, yeah. He said we have 1400
12:03 members now because people are coming for prayer. God can do
12:09 anything. You know Ruthie you're
12:10 absolutely right and both Bill and I are church planters and
12:14 so our congregations are new churches that have been planted.
12:19 One neat thing about it is I think there's a great sense of
12:23 community in a brand new church that's starting up and you're in
12:27 this together and you're focused and you're really zeroing in on
12:31 reaching people. We have at the beginning of our worship a
12:35 sharing time, a very open community sharing time and
12:39 people share their innermost feelings and when you give
12:43 permission to do that, and I think this pastor who was
12:47 willing to stand before his congregation and be vulnerable
12:51 and ask the Lord to bless and to heal him and bring to him to
12:55 something really changes the whole dynamic of what takes
12:58 place there. And it allows the Lord to move
13:01 in in a deeper way than you ever permitted him before.
13:05 Just a couple of weeks ago as we were opening for and having the
13:10 sharing time there was a young mother in our group who's 24-
13:16 year-old son had died of a drug overdose just the week before.
13:21 It would have been easy for her just to skip church, to not be
13:25 there, to go into seclusion during this time of her grief,
13:29 but the fact that we had this sharing time and we were open
13:33 brought her there. The other neat thing about it is when I
13:38 saw her come in and I knew the circumstance because I had
13:42 talked to her through the week, etc., I knew what was going on,
13:47 I told the group what she had experienced and immediately we
13:51 had prayer. And we had a heartfelt prayer for her and I
13:54 mean there wasn't a dry eye there as we had this feeling for
13:59 her. She then has now as a result of her experience started
14:05 a ministry for young adults who are just like her son. She has
14:11 taken her grief now and channeled it into something
14:14 positive and I believe that the power of prayer enables us to
14:19 take those feelings that we have like this pastor, like this poor
14:23 mother and channel them into something good for God.
14:27 It's the power of God and I'm glad you said what you did about
14:30 the bonding that takes place. The Lord wants to love the
14:34 hurting. He wants to love the people who have need for him.
14:38 He can't help us if we don't need him. But he wants to meet
14:42 our needs and when we pray for one another there is a bonding
14:47 that comes because it's the love of God. The Lord is using you to
14:52 love someone. The beauty of that is that
14:54 prayer crosses all lines. I mean every male, female, any kind of
15:02 supposed barrier that exists out there, economic, etc., is
15:06 completely shattered because prayer is the common need of
15:10 every human being.
15:11 Bill tell us something about the anointing service that you have
15:16 in your church. You mentioned that earlier and I really think
15:20 that that's a powerful ministry.
15:24 It is. It came as a result of trying to make the church a
15:28 house of prayer and not so much focused on the other things that
15:32 we can do but really connecting with God and teaching people to
15:37 be vulnerable to God and to ask God for their greatest needs in
15:41 their life. It came about because I have a church of about
15:46 600 or 700 people and we don't have a large pastoral staff and
15:50 you know we believe in what the Bible says in James 5 that if
15:54 your sick you can call for the elders of the church and they
15:57 will pray over him and we were finding that people were
16:00 reluctant to burden the elders, that type of thing, the whole
16:04 idea of going to someone's house or whatever. So we said how can
16:09 we facilitate our church family being able to act on this
16:13 promise that God has made so we said let's do it when most of
16:18 our people are together. So on the first week of every month as
16:23 we worship together we invite people during a prayer time.
16:27 The congregation is seated, the lights are turned down a little
16:31 bit and we just bring our elders to the stage and if somebody has
16:34 a physical need that they would like to be anointed for they can
16:38 come and it's a one-on-one thing.
16:40 Is it always physical needs?
16:41 Well not always. Sometimes they need help in overcoming some
16:45 addiction or some sin in their life. We've seen a number of
16:49 things. I've even had people that have come up and want to
16:53 be anointed in place of someone else. It's bringing that person
16:59 spiritually to the altar. But it's really a very powerful
17:03 thing. We slow it down, we take a little bit of time. But the
17:06 nice thing about it is the congregation is there and we're
17:10 not miked. We're doing it while they're singing. But people are
17:15 seeing Joe; I need to pray for Joe. I need to pray for Sally.
17:19 And usually we have a number, 12, 15, 20 people sometimes that
17:23 want to be anointed. But what's exciting is every month, the
17:27 week I do that is I find how God has answered someone's prayer.
17:31 You know, we're not talking about little things, we're
17:34 talking about tumors, we're talking about cancer, gone as a
17:39 result of this. It teaches people that I can trust God with
17:43 these big things in my life but also the little things...
17:47 You know that's a landmark, that's a landmark, not only in
17:51 the life of the person who is anointed but it's also a
17:55 landmark for the church. Do you also then give them feedback?
17:59 Does everybody know when someone has experienced a healing?
18:04 We try but I'll tell you God is working so fast and in so many
18:08 cases we literally don't have time. And sometimes I don't even
18:12 find out the answer until weeks and months later. You know what
18:16 I really love about it is sometimes it's not me. I mean
18:21 I've got a number of elders and it's an elder that's praying for
18:25 them and they're receiving healing and it lets them know
18:29 it's not the pastor's prayer. It's not the faith that I place
18:33 in this oil but it's my faith in God that has brought about this
18:38 miracle in my life. It's in prayer, it's about miracles.
18:43 A praying church is a church that's filled with miracles.
18:48 Really when you think about carrying on the mission of
18:53 believers, if we can create an environment where people sense
18:57 God is working and God is moving why wouldn't people want to be
19:01 a part of that?
19:02 That's right, that's right. And those are the churches that are
19:06 growing because people need God. I got a call just yesterday or
19:11 the day before from a friend out in Washington state and she said
19:16 guess what I did. She said I put a little blurb in the bulletin
19:21 and I said if you are a retired person and maybe you feel that
19:26 your church doesn't need you anymore because you maybe for
19:31 some reason can't be as active and you used to be, I have a
19:35 request for you. She said you don't have to bake anything, you
19:38 don't have to go anywhere, but we have one very important thing
19:44 that you can do, that we're going to ask you to do and that
19:49 is to pray every day for your pastoral staff. Pray for them by
19:54 name and find out what their prayer needs are and really take
19:59 that seriously. I think she's calling it the Gap Ministry
20:03 because you know standing in the gap for someone. She said
20:08 people have been very responsive They've talked to her after
20:13 they've seen this in the bulletin.
20:14 One of things that's very encouraging is to have a
20:20 prayer journal available for your church or your congregation
20:24 where they put in their request in one space but there's a space
20:29 there for the answer. Later they come back and write in the
20:34 answer. Then when people go then and look at that there's an
20:39 amazing support in sense of real power of prayer when you just
20:45 see these answer after answer that have taking place in
20:49 people's lives. Then you don't begin to doubt that God will do
20:52 something in your own life.
20:53 That's right. You know a few weeks ago I was in Brazil in
20:59 Brasilia which is up north in that country. They have a new
21:05 initiative that I think is going to be so powerful. They're
21:12 growing, that is the part of the world that is growing... yes
21:18 because they're members are so involved. But their initiative
21:24 for 2009 is that every family will be praying earnestly for
21:30 another family. One family takes another family and the names of
21:36 their children, they know where they work, maybe their neighbors
21:41 maybe their relatives, maybe their friends; but it's a prayer
21:46 initiative that one family takes for another family.
21:50 No doubt it will work. We have a lay person in our
21:55 conference that has taken on the ministry of praying with pastors
22:00 and I will get a call maybe once a month or usually early in the
22:06 morning because he knows pastors are available and not
22:09 out in the field yet. He will just simply have a word of
22:14 prayer with me. You don't know how wonderful that is to know
22:19 that somebody has taken the time to pray with you and it's a
22:23 simple thing we think but it's a powerful thing when we touch
22:28 another person's life and adopt them, as you say, in prayer.
22:32 Praying for the mission of a church is so important. You know
22:36 as I was sharing our own experience of leaving that out
22:39 and yet we still saw growth whatever, but the moment that we
22:43 implemented a prayer ministry and really got serious about it
22:47 our growth doubled. I mean we saw twice the number of people
22:52 and we were spending less money, We were seeing more acts of God
22:57 where he was bringing people, he was working and I think that
23:02 does something for the believer to see that.
23:05 Oh I really believe that. You know when someone has been
23:09 touched in anointing or just observing and praying there
23:14 singing quietly, you can't help but be influenced when the Holy
23:18 Spirit is doing something deep in the life of another person.
23:22 And you share that with your family. You don't know how the
23:26 Lord is using all of those conversations. Of course the
23:30 person who has been healed or touched in some way is changed.
23:36 Their life is changed.
23:37 I know when we had prayer for this mother, there was an energy
23:42 in the room, I mean a synergy of all kinds of things that were
23:47 going on both in her life as someone who was desperately in
23:51 need and grieving but also in the life of every member of the
23:56 group there who had the empathy for her but also sensed that
24:00 power in their own lives too. And that's the beauty of having
24:04 anointing prayer or having other prayers where you involve the
24:08 entirety of your group and you've sensed that feeling of
24:12 bonding together through God.
24:14 That's right, I agree. I believe too that when we're praying
24:19 as a church for the pastor there is a new unity and less
24:25 bickering and less criticizing. When we're complaining and
24:32 criticizing and gossiping we're off task. We're diverted and
24:39 we're on the wrong side in the army, really.
24:43 What do they say if you prayed as much as you worry you'd have
24:48 a lot less to worry about.
24:49 Absolutely. But when you are really praying for somebody,
24:53 praying for your pastor, you're saying Lord bless him, do
24:58 something for her. Bless this whole family and just keep them
25:03 strong in the Lord. Bless his sermons and go to the baptistery
25:08 and pray for baptisms. And you're really praying for the
25:13 mission of the church, then you're must less prone to
25:17 criticize. A member who is critical and negative is really
25:23 destroying their own spiritual life. So this is why prayer
25:28 brings the bonding and the focus and the power that we need
25:33 desperately. Yeah, we've actually implemented
25:36 two different prayer events on a Saturday morning when we have
25:40 our worship service, one before, early, early, 8 or so o'clock in
25:44 the morning where we invite people to come and pray and then
25:47 in the afternoon when we've gotten all these requests of
25:50 people wanting to be prayed for. Really the focus of the one in
25:53 the morning is praying for the church and praying for the
25:56 people who will come and praying for our members to
25:59 connect. One of the things they pray for is for the message or
26:04 the messages that will be preached. That's very powerful
26:07 to know that it's been bathed in prayer.
26:11 Amen. Let's pray together right now. Father in heaven we thank
26:16 you for the power of prayer. We thank you for the power in
26:20 the name of Jesus. And Lord we've been talking about how
26:25 vitally important it is that our churches become houses of prayer
26:29 places based on prayer, congregations who depend on God.
26:36 So I just want to hold up every person who is watching and the
26:41 church represented, the pastor represented by every viewer. We
26:46 thank you that you are such a big God and this is a totally
26:52 impossible task for us but easy for you to do. So we give you
26:57 these churches, these pastors and these congregations and we
27:01 thank you that you want to and will work in their behalf
27:06 because we pray in the strong name of Jesus, Amen.
27:10 Our time goes so quickly. Thank you so much, big thank you to
27:18 both of you. Well thank you Ruthie. It's been
27:20 a real pleasure and inspiration for me.
27:22 I had a great time. Thank you for inviting us.
27:25 And thank you for being with us for this program on prayer and
27:31 the mission of your church. I hope that this has been
27:35 something for us all to think about and it's a serious but
27:40 powerful and life changing topic Issues and Answers is something
27:45 that we've enjoyed doing with you and we'll be praying for you
27:49 We hope your church is a place of prayer. God bless you.