Thursday, February 28, 2013

31 Days of Prayer for Easter

This 31 Day Prayer Guide serves to focus and unite our prayers as we approach our Easter services. Please begin praying with us on March 1 and continue through March 31 (Easter Day!).

March 1           Thank God for the people who have given their lives to Christ at The Orchard and pray that God would use us for His purpose and glory this Easter.

March 2           Pray for the Movie & a Dog fundraiser tonight for our mission teams.  Pray for the mission trips coming up this summer and fall and that God would be preparing hearts.

March 3           Pray that each person in our church would be consumed with a passion for souls leading up to Easter and beyond.

March 4           Pray for wisdom for The Orchard Staff to lead their ministry areas in preparation for Easter.

March 5           Pray that our children, and our Ozone students would be inspired with boldness to share Jesus in their schools and invite their friends this Easter.

March 6           Pray for Pastor Tim as he prepares the Easter message and that God would anoint him to communicate that message at the Easter services.

March 7           Pray that God will raise up more volunteers to serve in the ministry teams at The Orchard.  Pray too for Pastor Tim as he is travelling today and tomorrow.

March 8           Pray that every volunteer would be focused and enabled to fulfill their responsibility in a way that is honoring to Christ.

March 9           Pray for those being baptized tomorrow that they will continue to grow in their faith and be bold for Christ.

March 10         Pray that God will give us as a church as greater passion for prayer and that tonight’s Prayer First gathering will be a powerful time led by His Spirit.

March 11         Pray that our desire to become a Generous Church compels us to make a greater impact in our community and world this Easter.  Pray that God would show you how He would have you grow in generosity.

March 12         Pray that each of us would be passionate about inviting people to Easter and that God would give us opportunities to invite those who don’t know Christ or have wandered away from their faith.

March 13         Pray for the people who come to our Easter services to be receptive to the gospel and for courage to make Jesus Lord of their lives. Pray for those who need to rededicate their lives and make a commitment to put God first.

March 14         Pray for more Growth Group leaders and disciplers to help people get connected and become fully functioning followers of Christ.

March 15         Pray for you. Pray that you will understand that souls are at stake so that you do your part in helping people come to know Christ this Easter.

March 16         Pray that our Easter services would unite our church like never before with a focus to evangelize and disciple our community.

March 17         Pray that we will break our record Easter attendance so that more people hear the gospel in this place than ever before.

March 18         Pray that all the components (worship, media, etc.) of our Easter services to flow smoothly.

March 19         Pray against the work of Satan. Pray for all hindrances to be removed that would keep people from receiving Christ as their Savior this Easter.

March 20         Pray that God would draw the hearts of those who receive our postcard in the mail to come Easter weekend.

March 21         Pray for the other Bible teaching churches in our community that God will use them this Easter to bring in a great harvest of souls.  Remember specifically: Alliance Bible Church, First Baptist, Maranatha Assembly, Meadowland, McHenry EV Free, The Chapel, Wonder Lake Bible.

March 22         Pray again for those you have invited to come and that God would do whatever is necessary to bring them in.

March 23         Pray that the children who attend the Easter Egg Hunt today would understand who Jesus is and that He loves them.

March 24         Pray for Hansen Voss and our worship team as they lead us each week and as they prepare for our Easter services.  Pray that God would be honored in our worship.

March 25         Pray that every heart present this Easter would be good soil and that even now God will be preparing every person who will come.

March 26         Pray that nobody who God is drawing this Easter would be distracted or prevented from coming and hearing His voice.

March 27         Praise God that He loves this community more than we ever could, and ask Him to give us a greater love and greater sense of urgency for our neighbors.

March 28         Pray for Pastor Tim, Pastor Scott and Pastor Dennis, Hansen Voss and Deb Dressler for strength and grace in the midst of this very busy week.

March 29         Pray for our Good Friday service this evening that lives will be changed.

March 30         Pray for our greeters and parking lot attendants that their welcome would be used by God to break down barriers and stereotypes and put our guests at ease.

March 31         Pray for many lives to be changed today!

Monday, February 25, 2013


I recently shared an old Puritan Prayer with the people of The Orchard Church, where I serve.  I've had so many requests for a copy of it that I decided to post it here.

We've been looking at the calling that followers of Jesus have to be a set-apart, holy people.  One vital element of a life that is consistent with our calling is submission.

This prayer comes from a compilation of Puritan Prayers entitled "The Valley of Vision"  edited by Arthur Bennett.  Here's the link for it on Amazon (I heartily recommend it!)

I hope that your heart resonates with this as mine does.  Let me know!

O God of the highest heaven,
Occupy the throne of my heart,
         take full possession and reign supreme,
   lay low every rebel lust,
   let no vile passion resist thy holy war;
   manifest thy mighty power,
     and make me thine for ever.

Thou art worthy to be
   praised with my every breath,
   loved with my every faculty of soul,
   served with my every act of life.

Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
   purchased, washed, favoured, clothed,
     adorned me,
   when I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.

I was dead in iniquities,
   having no eyes to see thee,
   no ears to hear thee,
   no taste to relish thy joys,
   no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
   has brought me into a new world as a
     new creature,
   has given me spiritual perception,
   has opened to me thy Word as light, guide,
     solace, joy.

Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
   for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
   and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
   of my hopes, and my vocation.

Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
   hold converse with thee,
That henceforth I may be salt of the earth
   and a blessing to all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Still Stuck -part 2

In my last article I talked about the importance of being intentional about growth.  The problem is that unless we are deliberate about learning, growing, developing and maturing in our life and faith, we almost certainly will not!

So here's a way to develop a 1 Year Personal Growth Plan, that can help you get out of the rut.  This is a tool that I have used personally for several years, and I have seen it pay great dividends in the lives of some of the leaders that I coach and mentor.  Several of the principles involved are based on Developing a One Year Growth Plan by Nelson Searcy.  The purpose of it is not to try to accomplish your own plans by your own effort, but rather to begin to seek God specifically and consistently about where He is wanting to work in your life and to lead you in the year ahead.  The great thing about it is that you can get started today!

Steps to an effective Personal Growth Plan

1. Pray! Seek the Lord concerning what He is doing in your life and where He desires to work.

2. Write down some categories on a sheet of paper and spend time reflecting on them and asking the Lord to teach you how to honor Him in each area, examples might be as follows:
  • Rest & Refreshment
  • Spiritual Growth/Relationship with God
  • Educational Learning/Personal Development
  • Family
  • Other – this may include: financial, physical, professional or church related
3. Prayerfully turn the categories into outcome statements e.g. Learn how to incorporate refreshing times of rest into my weekly, monthly and annual schedule. Then ask God to give you wisdom as to some specific steps to accomplish each outcome. Try not to make your list too long!

4. Reflect on what you have written down and consider are these:
  • Consistent with Biblical Teaching
  • Important in your life 
  • Motivated by personal pride or by the prompting of God 
  • Things that you have to trust God for or things that you are trying to do by your own effort (I like try each year to as the Lord to show we one specific thing that is utterly impossible for me, that I must trust Him for) 
5.   Turn these ideas into goals – Make sure your goals are:

Specific – instead of saying “I want to grow in my walk with God” be specific, for example “I want to grow in my walk with God by spending daily time in prayer, Bible study and journaling.” One area where most believers need to be specific is in their Bible reading and study, what will you read and when?

Measurable – You have to be able to evaluate whether you are following your plan. Instead of saying “I want to pray more” you could say “I want to dedicate at least 10 minutes every day to prayer)

Achievable – Goals should challenge, but they should not frustrate! It is better to begin with a few goals than a long list of them. Often times we over-estimate what we can do in a couple of months but under-estimate what we can do in a year.

Realistic – It has been said that the Christian life is more like a marathon than a sprint. If you have never run a race before it is foolish to think you can run a marathon without working up to it. Is your desire to spend 3 hours a day in prayer realistic? Maybe you could start by saying “I will spend 20 minutes each day in prayer this month and plan to add 5 more minutes each month”

Timely – When do you plan to begin and how long do you plan to measure this over?

6.  Review what you have come up with and take a few minutes to pray through each one

7. List the resources that you need to get in order to work on your goals (e.g. If you plan to read a particular book then you may need to go out and buy it, or if you plan to begin journaling then you need to make sure you have a journal)

8. Mark on a calendar important dates associated with your plan

9. Share your plan with someone else and ask them to pray for you and help to keep you accountable

10. Keep a copy of your plan somewhere you will look at it regularly and be sure to take time to pray over it and evaluate it regularly