This series will drill down on the missional community practice called "The Family Meeting". Although there isn't a formula, here are some things to consider putting into practice:
Sharing a Meal
What Do You Talk About?
An Evening of Prayer
An Evening of Prayer
Many evangelicals have a "bible studies equal success" mentality, and I've found that it can often be a barrier to living life in community on mission. A lot of people seem to have the feeling that it doesn't really count in community or group life if you don't study the bible, but there are plenty of other disciplines to pursue as we gather together. Perhaps the most neglected is extended corporate prayer, which is one of the core values of missional community.
In our Family Gathering, occasionally we will gather solely for the purpose of spending an evening praying together for God to move in our neighborhood. I want to unpack how we do it below.
Do One Thing Well Rather Than Many Things Poorly
One of the critical things that makes a community gathering successful, in my opinion, is focusing on doing one thing, rather than trying to accomplish a whole bunch of things. Prayer is often relegated to the leftovers of a gathering, so why not take a night to do just that? Some of the most powerful experiences I've had in missional community life have come when my community simply seeks God together.
Pray Through God's Attributes
In order to put ourselves in a posture of worship and prayer, one of the best ways I have found to start a community prayer time is to pray through God's attributes and character. The opening statement of the Lord's Prayer is "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name." Jesus teaches us to pray by focusing our attention on God Himself, so we spend about 10 to 15 minutes praying one by one out loud, simply worshipping God for who He is.
This is both helpful for worship, but also for discipleship. This prayer continues to help us remember the character of our God and be specific about all His attributes – His love, justice, holiness, independence, eternality, glory, beauty, mercy, and the many more things that God is. This discipline cultivates an ongoing understanding and affection for God!
Pray for Repentance
After we've considered the Lord, we then spend time repenting of sin. This practice helps to foster honesty as well as an ongoing recognition of our imperfection. We repent of our lack of affection for God, we confess our sins of omission and commission, and we repent for the ways we have trespassed against one another.
We then conclude our time by praying in thankfulness for the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and for the power of the resurrection to be more manifest in us to overcome sin and have an understanding of, affection for and obedience to God.
Pray Through Scripture
Often times someone will have a passage of Scripture that the Lord has laid on their heart or that has been impactful throughout the week, and following worship and repentance, we will reflect and ask God to conform us to His Word. This is yet another way to keep the Word of God at the center of our community, and also moves us to specificity in what we want to ask God to do.
Finally, we want to pray by name for our neighbors, our city and the nations. We want to spend time interceding specifically that God would reveal Himself to those whom we are seeking to share the good news of Jesus with, and that the powers and principalities of Satan would be undone. We pray for God's kingdom to come and His will to be done specifically in our neighborhood.
Concluding A Prayer Gathering
The list above is certainly not prescriptive, but has been very helpful in having a guide for how to pray as a community. Generally we'll pray for about an hour total (sometimes shorter, sometimes longer!), and often we'll wrap it up and stay and chat.
Celebrating communion together is also an excellent way to close out this time, which I will talk about in the next post.
What have you found helpful in facilitating prayer in the life of a community?