Home Week of Prayer 2020
by Carson Samson
Week of Prayer 2020

Behold I do a new thing

Revelation 21:5 (NASB)

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Reflect

Are you a person who thrives on change or one who prefers that things stay as they are?

From the time we are born our life experience is marked with change. Without change there is no life, only existence. But without stability life can disintegrate into chaos. A wise life is that which holds on to the right amount of stability and sameness, while opening to the right degree of change and newness so that life is actually taking place.

Our God is one that balances sameness and newness with awe-inspiring wisdom. He is the same, yesterday–today–tomorrow, yet he never does things in the same way twice. He established unalterable laws to govern creation, yet his incredibly diverse universe is not stifled by these laws. Jesus is the unchangeable, fixed head of his body, yet God’s covenant community seems to undergo significant changes in each generation.

Our God is not afraid of change, on the contrary he promises it and brings it about with great regularity! In Isaiah 43:19 God declares, “I will do something new…”; Paul confirms that In Christ old things pass away and new things come for each person who joins the life of Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Revelation 21:5 promises a whole new scale of newness in the future that is yet to come.

Until then, may we have the mind of Christ as we balance sameness and newness as God’s people in the Canadian MB family.

Consider

What old patters in your personal life, or perhaps in the life of your church and the MB Conference can be released in order to make space for the new thing Christ desires to accomplish in and through us?

Listen to God for the new thing he might want to do in your life.

Pray

  1. In response to the stirring of the Spirit in you

  2. For openness to the new thing God desires to do in our personal lives, in our churches and in our conference

  3. For patience, faith and careful listening to God in times of personal and collective transitions

  4. For wisdom to know what to keep and protect and what to release

  5. For the provincial and national Executive Boards and staff as they develop and implement new structures and systems

Awakened prayer

Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

John 14:13 (NASB)

Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Reflect

Oswald Chambers once stated that “Prayer is the greatest work.” This claim is right on at least two levels.

First, prayer is the greatest work for a follower of Christ because it releases the presence and power of God into the situation. Humanly speaking, we can accomplish much, but our greatest work will pale in light of even the smallest work of God. The relatively small effort of prayer unleashes the boundless power of God. Think about the incredible reversals and miracles in your life that only God could have accomplished. The prayers that are catalysts for God’s great work are our greatest work.

Secondly, the claim is right because prayer is often the hardest work we do. To pray may call for more will-power, more resolve, more faith and more strength that we have in that moment. Yet, without prayer we do not move forward in our spiritual lives and we are hard-pressed to testify to the reality of our experience of God’s power. Perhaps this is why so often we find in the Bible encouragement to pray, models of prayer, testimonies to the power of prayer, and why the Bible so often flat out commands us to pray.

Jim Elliot, a missionary killed in Ecuador, once said, “It makes me boil when I think of the power we profess and the utter impotency of our action.” If we want to see the great work of God, we must do the great work of prayer.

Consider

Do you yearn for the fresh breath of the Spirit to awaken prayer in your life and the life of your church?

What do you see as barriers to powerful prayer personally and corporately?

Pray

  1. In response to the stirring of the Spirit in you

  2. For a deep desire for prayer to be awakened in your personal life and in the life of our churches

  3. For a new hunger for disciplines that create space for God to work in and through us

  4. For an increase of the work of the Spirit among us as we pray

  5. For the national Mennonite Brethren Prayer Room, now open at mennonitebrethren.ca/mbprayer. If you’d like to pray for the MB family in Canada through the year, please join one of the prayer rooms and invite others to pray there with you

Disciples and leaders

2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

Hebrews 13:17-19 (NIV)

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Pray for us.
We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

Reflect

Consider this claim: You can lead others only to where you have been yourself. This statement is true of various aspects of leadership in the home, in the church, and in the marketplace. This statement is especially true in the realm of spiritual leadership – leading others to faithfully follow Jesus in all areas of life – in our service, in our character development, in our relationships, in our finances, in our holiness, in all the big and small decisions of life.

The leader therefore has a special responsibility to not just say the right things, but model faithful discipleship and on-going formation into the image of Christ.

Another truth about leadership is that it is risky and it is lonely. We can all name leaders in the church who have been hurt by the community they led, who are targets simply due to the role they hold, and others who feel very much alone in the task of leading. Others have refused to say yes to the call of leadership, while yet other capable leaders do not have the door of opportunity open to them.

A final truth to consider is that God’s people through the ages thrive when godly, skilled, reliable leaders call them to move together for the sake of the gospel of Christ.

Consider

Who have been the leaders who influenced and shaped you?

Who are the leaders in your circle who could use your encouragement or practical support?

Has God been nudging you to answer a call to leadership?

Pray

  1. In response to the stirring of the Spirit in you

  2. For us all to seek to be disciples of Jesus in all areas of our lives

  3. For a powerful shift to surrendered and transformed lives

  4. For leaders in our churches and provinces

  5. For God to inspire many in our churches to give their lives to vocational ministry

  6. For the work of developing leaders in Canada

  7. For MB Seminary and its work of preparing Christian leaders

The nations

Revelation 7:9 (NASB)

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands

Reflect

This kind of an international worship experience would have been a rare experience a few decades ago. The nations were then quite neatly divided by the borders of each country. Yes, there have been refugee waves in the past, the Mennonite Brethren among them, but the scale on which the nations are inter-mingling as 2020 begins is entirely new. Asia, Europe, Africa, South America are today well represented in most of the communities in which our churches minister.

In Canada we are also blessed by the First Nations, many expressions of people whose ancestors loved and cared for this land long before others discovered it and conquered it. We are blessed that God has opened doors for Mennonite Brethren workers to love and minister to many First Nations communities. Yet, as we gather on Sundays and in conference gatherings, the faces and voices of the nations are scarce among us.

Read the description of heavenly worship in Revelation 7:9 again, put yourself into that great multitude of worshipers, look around and listen to God’s prompting to you.

Consider

You form a part of the nations of God’s people who worship him and testify to his glory.

How might God be inviting you to live into this reality in a new way?

How might God be inviting your church and our MB Church in Canada to do the same?

Pray

  1. In response to the stirring of the Spirit in you

  2. For the MB First Nations ministry, and those who lead and support it

  3. For the five First Nations leaders walking through pastoral credentialing in 2020

  4. For the MB churches to be a light to the nations that are now in Canada

  5. For Multiply as they lead us to minister to and learn from the nations

Unity and mind of Christ

John 17: 20-21, 23 (Niv)

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… that they may be brought to complete unity.

1 Corinthians 1:10 (NASB)

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Reflect

There’s a problem with unity. It’s difficult, awkward, time-consuming, ambiguous. But beyond that, it requires a massive amount of trust; in each other and in God.

Sameness would be so much easier!

If we were the same, we’d be uniform. The call to unity means that we have big, wild differences with real, raw potential to divide.  Jesus’ call to unity echoed by Paul says, “You are different, and I am present differently within you. But I’m calling you to knit your hearts to one another anyway. As you do, I will be in you and I will be in the other, but I will also be in the space between you.”

Christ could have made us all arrive at the same answers, in the same words. For some reason, he hasn’t. Instead he asks us to discern his will, to have the mind of Christ, together. Perhaps we should hold that truth with a little more holy wonder than we tend to. 

It’s a measure of profound trust to believe that the piece of God’s heart and self he has entrusted to you is just as valid, beautiful, and challenging as the piece he has entrusted to the other. And to believe – really believe – that both of those pieces are needed. Not to wrestle against each other, but as patchwork pieces of the same incredible image, to work together to present a picture of the Father’s whole heart.

— Mandy Kaster

Consider

God could have made us the same – he chose not to. What does this reveal about him?

What differences do you find hardest to accept in the Mennonite Brethren expression of the body of Christ?

How might Christ see these differences? Are they a threat or an opportunity for the gospel?

Pray

  1. In response to the stirring of the Spirit in you

  2. For a miraculous work of God of rebuilding his people into unity

  3. For our differences to be holy ground for God to reveal the as yet unexplored pieces of himself

  4. For a blessing on someone who follows Jesus differently than you

  5. For meekness and a habit of corporate ways to seek the way of Jesus in all things

  6. For the will of God and wisdom of God as MB leaders develop ministry strategies for 2020

Open doors

Colossians 4:3 (NASB)

Praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned.

1 Corinthians 16:9 (NASB)

For a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

Revelation 3:8 (NASB)

I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

Reflect

Think of a time God opened a door to an opportunity to serve him. It was obviously an open door — an invitation, a need that you could meet, a question you could answer. Did you walk through that door or was that opportunity lost?

Think of a time when you prayed for just such an open door, but it stayed shut.

Open doors are precious gifts that ought to be received with thoughtful gratitude.

With every open door comes a new challenge. Do I — do we — have the faith, courage, and wisdom to walk through so that it will indeed result in effective ministry?

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 16:9, has the discernment to recognize not only the open door but also the obstacles that stand in the way. Some of our obstacles are internal, some are communal, and others are external. But if we are faithful to the Living Word and his written word, we only need a “little power” to have doors open to us which cannot be shut.

Consider

What is preventing you from saying yes to an opportunity the Lord is currently holding out to you?

For what kind of an open door does your heart yearn?

Pray

  1. In response to the stirring of the Spirit in you

  2. For barriers to effective ministry to be dismantled in prayer

  3. For new opportunities and new ways to share the gospel in a saving way across Canada

  4. For open doors to ministry in Quebec and Atlantic Canada

  5. For adequate human and financial resources to respond to the opportunities God opens

Nothing is impossible with God

Luke 1:35-37 (NASB)

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.  And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Reflect

We have just come through the season of Christmas. Luke opens the Christmas story with an introduction of a couple that has given up their hope for a child. They have prayed, they have hoped, but seemingly too much time has passed and it is unlikely that they would still expect a child at this point in their life. And yet, at this unlikely time, in an unlikely place, and in a most unexpected way, the angel announces Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Impossible!

Another couple, just engaged, is not yet expecting a child. Marriage will come first. And yet, very unexpectedly, the angel announces Mary’s pregnancy. Impossible! To help us live with the impossibility of these two back-to-back unbelievable events the angel says, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

 There is much in our lives, and in this world, that seems impossible – and humanly speaking it is. But with God, all things are possible. Do you believe this in the depth of your soul?

Will you offer your faith to God as you invite him into the impossible situations of your life and ask for the impossible?

Consider

Sit before God for a moment and ask him to show you the seemingly impossible challenges in your life and in the life of your church.

What would a miraculous reversal of your impossible challenge look like?

Will you pray beyond that which seems possible, beyond what you/we can likely accomplish in our own strength?

Pray

  1. In response to the stirring of the Spirit in you
  2. For a miracle in the impossible challenges in your personal life and the life of your church
  3. For a complete healing in our MB Conference of churches – relationally, spiritually, financially
  4. For a Spirit led and Spirit empowered future of the MB churches in Canada
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