Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We'll Give Him All the Glory

Our last Monday night prayer of the year was a time of celebrating the answers to prayer for the past year and experiencing Gods continuing presence among us.  Here are some highlights.

  • Remembering the night we blessed single parents and seeing people in long lines to give financially and pray for them.
  • Lucys story of God speaking to her about how he put together all the pieces of her brokeness and made a beautiful mosaic out of it.  She shared how vulnerable she felt sharing this, but how it had impacted many.
  • Loud applause as we announced that around 900 people had come to Christ this past year.
  • Erins story of how God spoke to her one night at prayer about how lovely she was to Him and how she was the bride of Christ.
  • Lora encouraging everyone that God uses all the things we have been through in 2010, good and bad, to grow us and to make us useful in the kingdom.
  • People who God is calling to take a next step in their lives standing for prayer and others surrounding them and praying for them.
  • Stories from our giveBIG outreach to the city.  
  • Ending with the choruses of "Oh Come let us adore Him", "For He Alone is Worthy", "We'll Give Him all the Glory", and "We'll Praise His Name Forever".
I am pumped about how God led us in prayer this past year and how people at Elife caught the vision of prayer.  Our prayer gathering more than doubled this past year.  I have a real God anticipation about how God is going to move as we pray in 2011.  We are set up to have about 1000 commitments to Christ by years end.  I am praying our prayer efforts double in 2011 so we can see at least double the commitments to Christ this year.

Jesus, your amazing and we give you all the glory for what you have done in 2010 !

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Confession Flows

We are following an ACTS model on Monday nights for our prayer service. ACTS is Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, & Supplication. We try and incorporate all four of these types of prayer into the hour. Sometimes one of the facets will end up dominating the time. Monday night this week was heavy on the Confession side.

James 5:16 says:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

I think all of us would love to pray prayers that have great power and produce wonderful results. I hear the last part of James 5:16 quoted often. Yet the first part of James 5:16 I think sets the tone for the last. Before we can have great power and wonderful results in our prayers we have to be willing to confess our sins and pray for one another.

There is something about the confession of sin to one another that scares us. We are afraid of how we might be seen by others. In a public prayer gathering, isn't this someones fear, that their sins might become known or they would have to confess them.

Monday night something significant happened. After a worship set, that was purposefully slower than usual, we asked for people to come to the mic if they wanted to confess sin, either something they did or we as a group had done. As the leader opening a mic for confession of sin is one of those times where you hope you are hearing Gods guidance well. No-one could come up or someone could come up and spend the hour on their personal sin list. Neither of these is a good option.

I gave some guidance and asked our people to confess at the most two sins on the mic and if they had more then to spend time with God confessing others. It was one of those times that ended up leading itself. It took a minute for the first person to come up, but that seemed to release what God was doing and person after person came forward. A grade schooler asking for forgiveness for being disrespectful to her parents, a 40 something asking for forgiveness for taking over her life and not allowed God to be in control, a man asking for forgiveness for how he treated his girlfriend, a teen dealing with lust, a mom dealing with being ugly to her kids, another teen asking God to forgive the youth for getting distracted from following God, and on and on people came. They were vulnerable before God and each other.

Obviously because of how we spent the time, the night was heavier, it was convicting, it was challenging. We finished with some prayer ministry time for people dealing with rejection and for our staff.

Elements that worked tonight:
Having a worship time that was more dialed down. This seemed to be conducive for a night of confession.

Opening the mics and asking people to come forward and confess sin.

Memorable moments & phrases:
To our youth: Take your place in this movement of God.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Global Prayer

Each week at Monday Night Prayer there is an overarching theme.  We have four key themes for our prayer times.  First Mondays are vision prayer, second mondays are ministries focus, third mondays are missions focus and fourth mondays are for intimacy and revival.  This week was week three and we focused on praying for missions.

We began in adoration.  Our worship team did 3 songs.  We then began sharing stories of answered prayer.  We shared about a lady having God heal her ear last week at prayer.  We shared about our weekend services, how many had committed their lives to Christ and some comments.  We shared a prayer miracle that had happened in India recently with some of our missions partners there.  We shared some comments off of Kale Yorks blog as he and a team from YWAM are in Thailand and India.  Hearing how God is answering prayer encourages our faith as we continue to pray.

Then Coby Colley came up and shared with us what is happening in India with Asian Partners.  We let everyone pray for three specific items related to their ministries.  We prayed for Kale and his team and one other young man who was headed to YWAM.

We then asked people to come up to the mics and pray short prayers for missionaries they knew in many countries.  We had 20 - 30 people come up and pray for missionaries. We ended our time with a prayer ministry time.  We asked those who needed courage for something they were facing to stand and we had our people gather around them and pray for them.

What a privilege to support missions around the world in prayer.  We desire to have a global awareness and be available for God to use us around the world in prayer or in obedience in any other way.
Elements that worked tonight:
Having people greet one another at the very front end.

Memorable moments & phrases:
Courage is not the absence of fear, it is going forward even though their is fear.
We are responsible for our generation - Keith Green

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nothing Compares to His Embrace

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

from Forever Reign by Hillsong Live

The force that makes Monday Nights so powerful at Experience Life is the real and tangible sense of Gods presence with us.  I think all of us who have come to pray recognize this fact.  When the Lord shows up in tangible ways we all leave the time changed.  Sometimes the change is encouragement, sometimes inspiration, sometimes fulfillment, other times excitement that we have prayed according to His will and believe we will see Him work.

Monday night was one of those nights that seemed like His presence was a little more tangible than usual.  When I walked in the rink to prepare I recognized that tangible presence.  As our intercessors prayed before the time began, there was the reality of his presence, as the video played worship before we began there was the awareness that Jesus was there.  Our 1 hour of prayer sailed by and even afterward encouragement from His presence.  I got home around 8:45 and I just sat in my living room quiet or an hour because I still sensed God upon my heart.  The conclusion I have about all of this is that God is among us and directing our paths.

We opened with a scripture reading from Psalms and a prayer.  We went into 3 songs, one was "forever reign" by Hillsong.  Our people really connected as we sang.  We finished with "worthy of affection".  We then moved into a prayer ministry time.  We prayed for ears that weren't working and for knees.  We moved to some thanksgiving.  This is the time we share how God has answered prayer the previous week.  We then moved into corporate prayer topics such as praying for obedience to be in our churches dna, we prayed for people who were lost, we prayed for our lifehouse leaders (having them stand and surrounding them in prayer circles) and we prayed for the many requests we get each weekend.

We concluded the time praying for anyone dealing with alot of fear recently.  Clayton our lifehouse pastor came up and gave a final blessing and prayer.  And people came to pray with our prayer teams up front at the end.

Elements that worked tonight:
Introduction of "forever reign" in worship.

Kneeling after worship for a time of confession and asking God to fill us and empower us in all we do.

Memorable moments & phrases:

Vague confession equals vague forgiveness. You aren't really sure you are forgiven if you haven't confessed specifically. 

If we are not careful we judge the power of prayer on our past experience and not Gods word.    

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Show Me Your Heart, Show Me Your Way, Show Me Your Glory

Show Me Your Heart, Show Me Your Way, Show Me Your Glory is a line from one of the worship songs we did last night at Monday Night Prayer.  This is a cry in our hearts as we seek God. We understand that if God doesn't intervene in our lives, in the lives of people in our city and in our area, we can not find Him.  We understand that if we don't connect to God in prayer and see His presence and power move among us we are in trouble.  Then we're left to our own devices, our own power and that won't get anything eternal done in this life.

Last night the challenge was not to pray little prayers to a little God, but to pray Big prayers to our Big God.  He is the king of the universe.  He is the one who reigns over all things.  In Him is supreme power.  Along those lines we prayed for God to bring revival to our city and our nation.  We asked God for a break out of salvations all over our city, not just in our church.

We took time and prayed for our elementary, jr. high, and high school students.  We prayed big prayers that God would use them mightily.  We had people gather around them, put a hand on their shoulder and prayed for them, then someone would follow praying on a mic for the whole group.

I read Deuteronomy 32:11.  The scene is the mother eagle stirring up her nest and teaching her young ones to fly.  She does that in two ways.  First she takes the soft portions out of the nest so the young eagles will not stay in the comfort of the nest and will have to come to the top. Under the soft parts are glass, thorns, and other sharp objects.  The affect is making they young uncomfortable there and have to come to the top of the nest.  Then the mother will beat her wings knocking the young ones off the nest.  It is time to fly or die.  But the eagle doesn't let her young fall to their death, if they don't fly she will sweep under the young and catch them to bring them back for another try.  The eagle doesn't let her young just rest in comfort because she knows these eagles must learn to fly and feed themselves.  They need to mature.  We prayed for people who are in uncomfortable places in life because God is wanting to mature them.

For three straight months we have averaged more than 500 at our prayer gatherings.  God is calling people to pray.  It is a great feeling to know that 500 people have gathered to change history by praying to their Great God.

Elements that worked tonight:
Sharing the analogy of how a young eagle learns to fly from Deut 32:11 and then praying for people who sensed they are in a season of God taking them out of their comfort zone and challenging them with hard things.

Memorable moments & phrases:
We didn't come to pray little prayers to a little God tonight, we have come to pray Big prayers to a Big God

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There Can Be No Revival, No Awakening Without Prayer

"There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer."  A.T. Pierson

The more we pray at Experience Life, the more we realize the necessity of prayer.  As we look at the New Testament and at church history we realize the quote by A.T. Pierson is so true.  Revival or Spiritual Awakening can not come except when it is proceeded by prayer.  In Acts we see the early church consistently in prayer.  The reason signs and wonders happened, the reason the gospel was preached with boldness, the reason the church exploded was that this early church knew the importance of prevailing prayer.

We opened Monday night prayer with thanksgiving.  Each week when we announce how many people have committed their lives to Christ the previous week we are celebrating how God has answered our prayers.

We prayed for a sister church in our city Trinity Church and asked Gods blessing upon a prayer time that they are having on Sunday nights as well as encouragement for their senior pastor Carl Toti and his family.

I told the story of a grandfather and grand daughter who were a reality cop show on t.v.  When a criminal came out of a house with his hands raised, the grand daughter said look grandpa he is worshiping.  The little girl recognized the man was in a posture of submission, I give up, I recognize you are the authority here.  This is how we wanted to enter into a time of worship tonight, surrendering and recognizing Gods as our authority.

We sang four songs finishing with "A beautiful exchange" and "the stand".  After worship Gary Galanos shared a couple of stories from the Hebrides revival that began in 1949.

Then we invited people to come up and pray for revival.  Young and old came up and called out to God to come.  Come in power upon us.  It is powerful to see them come and pray.  I have found that quickly after we pray corporately like this, something begins to happen.  I am excited and look in anticipation at what God is going to do with these prayers.

We prayed for people who sensed a call to be a person who helps pray in this next movement of God in West Texas.  We also prayed for people whose finances were jacked up.  We prayed for those who were dealing with depression.

We are praying that God will show himself great in our day and in our time.  We are praying for revival in West Texas.

Elements that worked tonight:
Sharing a story of revival (Hebrides revival in 1949) and then inviting people to the mics to pray.

Having two men at both mics to adjust height of mic or to let anyone who went too long know.

Memorable moments & phrases:
Over 100 people stood as we asked for those who sense a call to be part of helping usher in revival through prayer to stand.

There has never been a revival or spiritual awakening throughout history that has happened without people who prayed.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

World Changers

Our hearts continue to be pointed towards heaven on Monday nights.  One of the reasons we value having a worship set toward the front end of prayer is that it sets our minds on how big our God is and take our minds off how big our problems feel.  We understand this is the true reality.  God is bigger than any of our struggles and problems.  As we adore Him through singing, our hearts are warmed to this reality.

Our leadership team decided to share our big news this week at the prayer gathering.  So Chris, our lead pastor and Justin, our exec pastor took about 30 minutes sharing on how God had answered prayer about us expanding.  We have purchased the bus station in downtown Lubbock.   We are going to renovate it and it will become our first multisite campus.  Experience Life will have a downtown presence now.  Renovations will begin very soon.  We hope to have this campus up and running sometime in 2011.

God continues to bless what He is doing at Experience Life.

We took time to pray over the bus station.  We prayed for Gods favor in all the logistics, we prayed for all the needed resources to be provided and we prayed that God would bring all those needed to serve this location.

We ended with prayer ministry time.  We prayed for relationships to be reconciled and prayed for people who needed strength to pursue reconciliation.  We also prayed for any ordinary people who were willing to let God use them to be world changers.  I think we probably had about 250 people stand for this time.

Chris Galanos, our lead pastor closed in prayer.  Our prayer teams who are up front at the end of our time seem to be praying for more and more people.

Elements that worked tonight:
Because of time limitations with the big announcement, we started 5 minutes early so we could fit a full worship set in.

The announcement by Chris and Justin about the answer to prayer.

Memorable moments & phrases:
Peoples applause when we announced the bus station.

If your too big to serve, your too small to lead.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Transforming Generations

One thing that has stood out to me lately is the wide range of generations involved in our Monday night prayer gathering.  We have all kids 9 and up in the service.  This makes our age range 9 - 90 with all in between.

It was so encouraging Monday night as we opened the mics for anyone to express a prayer of thanksgiving to God.  We asked that it be brief.  We had about 25 - 30 people respond.  What a joy to see 9, 10, and 11 years olds come up and express prayers of thanks to God.

You can see this picture on the left that during one of the ministry times that we had people stand up and then someone around them pray for a particular need, a young girl prayed for a young boy.  Even though I was on the stage I couldn't help catch this shot with my iphone.  You know God is doing something when even these little ones have a heart for prayer.

Tonight we approached prayer with a heart of Thanksgiving.  We just came from our a weekend where we celebrated our 3rd anniversary.  We had 114 people stand to commit their lives to Christ this weekend which was awesome.  Then 100's more stood to say they would take their next steps with God.  One poignant moment in the service was when a young lady stood to commit her life to Christ, a friend sitting in another section saw her stand and ran over to embrace her friend and celebrate her life decision.

Tonight at prayer, we prayed for those who were experiencing spiritual warfare.  We prayed for those who are unemployed. One young man caught me after the service and told me he stood because he was unemployed and got two job offers before he left prayer.  At the end our prayer teams prayed for 15 minutes after we dismissed.  They told me they had never been the last ones to leave but tonight were.

Elements that worked tonight:
Having the open mics and letting people come up and offer thanks to God.

Spending some time pointing people to our prayer teams at the end of the service.
Memorable moments & phrases:

True obedience many times takes sacrifice.  Sacrifice is a step beyond convenience.

Short Term Trips & Short Leashes

Monday night prayer this past week had a missions focus.  We had a team that had been to Guatemala just a couple of weeks ago.  We used what they learned on the trip to encourage prayer for other countries as well as our heart for the world.

Giving God adoration and praise was first at prayer last Monday.  I love to see how our front rows and sides are filled with the young who aren't afraid to express themselves in worship.

We moved into a brief time of confession next.  I shared a story I had heard from Keith Craft, a pastor in Frisco.  Keith told of a friend who had a dog named Gwhiz.  Gwhiz loved to jump over fences into the neighbors yard.  The owners decided to fix this problem by putting Gwhiz on a leash.  With the length of the leash, Gwhiz could make it over the fence but not make it to the ground in the next yard causing himself major difficulties.  It didn't take long for Gwhiz to learn he had a new boundary and he couldn't just jump into the neighbors back yards.  I also told a story of how it seemed anytime I tried to get away with something in high school like sneaking off campus during lunch I got caught.  I think someones prayers had me on a short leash.

We asked God to put us on his short leash so that our own flesh nature couldn't take us far from Gods best for us.

Our Guatemala team then shared about our trip.  We prayed for our missionaries Mike and Terri McCombs and the 31 Bible extensions they are over.  We printed the names of the extensions on cards and handed them to people at the door.  We also prayed for anyone who had a heart to go on a short terms trip this coming year.

We prayed for people in the education profession during our ministry time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Postures of the Heart

Prayer began this past week with sharing some answers to prayer that have happened recently.  We then read Isaiah 53, the chapter that describes Jesus.  We went into our worship set.  As people were connecting to God in worship it seemed we should press into God.  I asked everyone to take a posture of consecration.  That could be kneeling where they were at or any other posture that helped them bow their heart to the living God.  We spent time on our knees asking God for more of His presence in our lives and in our times of prayer.

I believe strongly in postures of prayer.  Postures help point our heart.  It is harder to be prideful when you are bowing your knee.  It is a posture that is designed to point your heart to reliance on God.

We continued in our services and had our college director share about what is happening this semester and then we had college students stand and we prayed for them as they begin the semester.  We prayed for all of the prayer requests from the previous weekend.  We prayed for the lost in our city.  Our ministry time at the end was used to pray for those who were experiencing spiritual warfare and were somehow discouraged.  We prayed for people who were dealing with shame from past sins.

I find our hour goes by very fast for corporate prayer.


Elements that worked tonight:

Reading the whole chapter of Isaiah 53 at the front end.

Asking people to kneel or find a posture of consecration.

Having everyones head bowed when praying for people dealing with Shame.
Memorable moments & phrases:

Telling part of the story of Tomas Guzaro: where at gunpoint and the threat of his life he told his assassins that to live was good and to die and be with Jesus was good also.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prayer: The Heart of God

Monday nights has been the place where God is meeting people.  Our Monday night prayer gathering has grown tremendously this summer as we are averaging over 500 each Monday night.  People are coming with a sense of expectation in what their God will do in this hour each week.  People from other churches are coming to be a part.  We welcome anybody to come and join in prayer for the city and for our region.

This past Monday night was a little more low key than many Monday nights.  Brandon Gwinn our lead worship leader at Elife did a set that was more calming and intimate than usual.  I had many comments about the peace of God present during worship.  I took some time and communicated some basic vision about Monday night, why we do what we do.

Our goal:  To connect with God, to hear His plans, and to be empowered to carry out those plans.
The key:   Gods presence among us
Our method: Consistant Prayer

The break down of Monday nights is times of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.  We are also intentionally listening to Gods voice and trying to be directed by that voice.

Monday night we prayed for our team going to Guatemala this coming week, we prayed for our Pack the Pack outreach (giving away school supplies to more needy schools in Lubbock), we prayed for our current series: FAQ, we prayed for the lost to get saved in Lubbock Texas, and we prayed God would raise up prayer gatherings all across our city.

During our prayer ministry time we prayed for anyone about to make a change to a new place (students fit this as they begin the school year), we prayed for our lifehouse leaders and apprentices, and we prayed for those who had really hard things happen to them this year and needed courage to make it through.
Elements that worked tonight:

The slower pace of worship created a more peaceful time for people.

Having our intercessors pray for our prayer gathering 15 minutes before hand seems to give the gathering much energy.

Having five separate sections of chairs rather than three.

Memorable moments & phrases:

The largest amount of children we have ever had.  We had to recruit staff to help with kids.

Visitors coming up to me at the end and commenting how moved they were by Gods presence.

"You don't have to change your place when going through a hard time, God can change your perspective and awareness"

"Corporate Prayer is on Gods heart for the earth"  Mk 11

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Abandonment in All Things

I am so thankful that God has surrounded me with a solid core of lay leaders at our Monday Night Prayer time.  From time to time I ask them to give me some thoughts they have about prayer.  These come from Dina Pender our Greeters team coordinator on Monday nights.

I believe something is “building” at Monday Night Prayer.  I have really been impressed over the last few weeks that as we reach up and out to God – He is responding and encouraging us that not only is He aware of us, but He desperately wants us to know that He loves us just like we are when we come to Him at that exact moment, with everything all out of whack and messed up!  He is delighted in our desire to pull closer to Him and He welcomes us readily and eagerly.  He literally loves that we are willing to come to Him even though we didn’t get-it-together before hand. He is showing His love in this way, it is not what we have or haven’t done that causes Him to love us…He just does because He chooses too.

On a recent Monday, I received a very clear word that God is sovereign and as we deepen our relationship with Him, He is calling us to trust Him in all things with abandonment.  We should not be deceived into believing that by what we “see” He has not answered our prayers or is indifferent in any way to our requests or heart-cries.  He wants us to walk as mature Christians and trusting children that He is in control, even when we don’t receive the answer we were hoping for.

“It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally.  It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet and what is sand.”  Madeleine L’Engle

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Radical Generosity

Last night was a powerful time of Gods people seeking God and listening to God to bless others.  I don't know that I can describe the evening well.  So I think I'll let your comments about the night tell the story"

  • It was my first Monday night to attend. I was blown away with Gods presence! Amazing!
  • I am so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to God's blessing on those people tonight. I love you Jesus and thank you.
  • It was amazing, I felt so much joy to be able to help two of them. It was amazing to watch God work. It was amazing to pray over a single father weeping and overwhelmed by the love. Amazing.
  • I was there. That was the most incredible thing I was ever able to participate in. Let's change this city for God!!
  • that was the most amazing this ive ever seen sooo powerful.
  • It was amazing to see their faces when people were handing them money and then praying for them. Thanks for the opportunity to give!!
  • I want y'all to know that my mom was one who stood up and y'all blessed hr so much.on Sunday when we got home from churched we walked in our house had been broken into a wii two tvs,two dvd players, and other stuff were stolen from our home..  are behind a few house payments and we were blessed to get a little over half way caught up... thank you elifers for your giving hearts and my God bless you in so many ways...again a million thank yous...
  • Well I am not able to attend Monday night prayer because I have class, mon- thur. night, but my son attends and he was truly touched tonight. He comes from a single parent home and he knows the struggles we go through,but he also knows how many times God has blessed us through our Elife family. He was sharing with me about the service, he told me mom I had the $6 in my wallet that you told me to keep, but I gave it to a man that stood up. It made me have chills and tear up.I am so glad he listened to God telling him to give. God is doing amazing things in the lives of the people who attend E-life, and even more so in the lives of our youth!!!
  • POWERFUL prayer night! Our GOD is awwwesome... -J
  • How incredible it is to see people from all walks of life (esp youth) really "getting it"! Tonight was one of the most overwhelming God moments that I have felt! Brought my friend for the first time and she even though elife is radically diff from what she's used to said that she was moved and felt God's presence.
  • Tonight was such an amazing blessing to bless others and then to watch how God didn't do just a little bit. He poured out abundant blessings above all we could imagine on our single parents tonight!!!!! There is something radical happening at E-Life and it excites me to see God work in tangible ways to change our city -- one life at a time.
  • I was overwhelmed tonight as I watched our youth stand in line to give and be used by God to bless others tonight! They gave of their own money and also prayed BOLDLY for our single parents. It blessed my heart to see our young people put their faith in action and change the lives of people much older than they are.
  • It was so Amazing to be apart of Prayer Service last night. I still get chills thinking about the Experience.
  • monday night prayer was BY FAR the coolest prayer meeting yet! giving is ABSOLUTELY better than receiving...
  • Monday Night Prayer ALWAYS brings me to my knees and God tells me exactly what I need to hear. Love Elife for having prayer be a priority!
  • WOW...tonight was awesome!! It never gets old to see God do such amazing things in the lives of His people!! Love how He continues to go above and beyond even our highest expectations! :)
  • The Holy Spirit was in the house tonight. P.S- whoever prayed for me last week, I saw a marked difference in that area. Thank you.
  • this was my first Monday Prayer Meeting and i must say i could feel the love in the room. such an amazing feeling
  • AWESOME Prayer night this evening! The Lord was very present and man did he show His love to me this evening. Thank you ELife! Praise be to God!

Elements that worked tonight:

Began the night with centering in on Christ using three verses with three themes: Passion, purity, and perseverance.  We took a moment to read a verse on each topic, share a brief explanation and then have people repent and ask God for help.

Creating some space in the front for people to come and worship or kneel or sit.  Our youth have moved into that area.

Memorable moments:

Having single parents who had a financial need stand.  As we sang another chorus we asked people to give sacrificially to our single parents.  It was an incredibly moving scene to see lines of people waiting to bless each single parent that stood as everyone else worshiped.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Common Theme

I love it when God brings about a common theme at our Monday Night Prayer gathering.  This past Monday it was the idea of selfish ambition versus Godly ambition.  It came up in prayer, in the songs chosen, and in bible verses read.

This week we began prayer by being thankful.  We had 21 first time commitments to Christ the previous weekend and we read stories of how people were being affected by our services each week.  Our adoration time we mixed with a confession time.  Before each song we read a related verse from the bible and let the person who read pray the theme of that verse.  For example our second song was "I love your presence" (on the last Bethel Cd).  Someone read Psalm 27:4 and prayed and then we went into the song.  It was a more acoustic intimate set and people at the gathering received it well.  After the last song (step by step) we read Phillipians 3 and opened the mics up to people who were willing to confess sins of selfish ambition for themselves or for us corporately.  I invited everyone where they were at to to confess any selfish ambition versus having Godly ambitions in their lives.

We then prayed corporately for salvations, for the services this coming weekend, for a missions team in China.  We then moved on to a prayer ministry time where we had people stand who were weary, feeling like they needed hope and strength.  Those around them gathered around and prayed over them.

We closed with having our prayer teams up front available to pray for people.

Elements that worked tonight:

Having the verses read and people praying before each song of the worship set.

Having a slower more intimate set.  We try and do that the last week of each month as our focus that night is intimacy and revival.

Beginning the night with thanksgiving as opposed to how we begin sometimes with singing.

A memorable moment:
As people had stood that were weary and wanting prayer, I told them "Smart people stand for prayer"  Anyone who asks God to bring his super into their natural situation is smart"

One of our visitors tonight commenting to me after prayer "Pappa was there tonight"

A man who came to prayer and was not a believer telling me he had never been in a place like this.  There was a sense of awe as he took in being around the presence of God.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lucy's Story

A God Story:    In our day and in our time, God is moving . . .

Hey Berry,
I just wanted to shoot you an email about something that happened to me during prayer last night. Towards the end, you made a side note about our God being a God who restores and makes us whole again. The comment came out of no where, but I really needed to hear it. I have been struggling with being spiritually attacked in that area specifically. I was seeing a young man for the last year, and he recently left to do missionary work overseas. It had gotten to the point where I thought he was the one and that I would spend the rest of my life with him, so you can imagine the rude awakening we both had when he felt called to leave to serve God elsewhere and I felt called to end the relationship.

He left a few weeks ago, and I have been having a hard time with it. I gave much of my heart to this guy and recently I have felt like a sheet of shattered glass, broken into many pieces and have found myself asking God, "How do you restore broken glass? Even if you put all the pieces back together, it will still be fractured and scared in so many places."

So last night when you made that comment about God being able to restore us, it hit me so hard. I started weeping, because I still felt like there was no logical way God could restore that sheet of shattered glass that was my heart. Then, God blew my mind. As I was sitting there crying, I was hit with an image of the most beautiful stained glass window. It was more beautiful than just a plain sheet of glass by far. Even though it was made out of broken pieces of glass, it was whole because of what was holding it together. Its colors were brilliant and the sun was shining through it. The image reminded me that restoration doesn't always mean going back to where we were before, but that God puts all the pain, confusion and sufferings of our hearts together in a new way that brings Him more glory and us more beauty.

Monday Nights

I would have to say one of the most powerful prayer experiences in Monday night prayer was when the Lord began pricking my heart that he had so much more for me than just attending the services. I was beginning praying out loud.  My heart was inside of my chest, I knew that the Lord was calling me to go deeper in prayer, but the idea of prayer out loud scared me. Once I did it, my prayer life flourished, it was not the fact that I prayed out loud, and it was the fact that I was obedient.  God has given me so many gifts and allowed me to do so many things this past semester and I believe it is simply the fact that is trying to be obedient.

Here lately Monday Night prayer has brought out freedom in people that I have not seen in a while. The young and the old have worshipped and made petitions to the Father.   It just seems that the Lord has met us every time in a real way. The power is so evident when you come, and we have the ability to pray for people. When I intercede for others, it tends to make my problems or my day melt away.  The reality of we are Gods bridegroom and we are created to worship him is something that God teaches me every time I walk into pray. He delights in us, he accepts us and he LONGS for us to sit in his presence, because he is ravished by us.

written by one of our prayer team members:  Erin Mullins

Way Too Many Coincidences Not To Be God

Listening to God is such a subjective thing.  I have found there is such a balance of being sure you yourself are ingesting a good amount of the word of God, keeping a consistant contact with God through all the avenues prayer has, listening to Godly men and women around you, as well as discerning circumstances you meet with every day.  Even with a balanced disciplined lifestyle listening to God is still subjective.
This is one of the reasons I believe we have the whole concept of confirmation.  We read it in Gods word, we sense the peace of God in going forward, Godly men and women affirm what God is saying gives us more confidence in our next step.  I think this is why the body of Christ is so important to our walk with God.  When we walk in community their is opportunity for confirmation of Gods will in our lives and many times opportunity for us to see when we are off base.

I have noticed this concept happening many times in our prayer gatherings recently.  A great example was Monday night.  15 minutes before corporate prayer each Monday night, our prayer intern, Matt Martin gathers a group around for intercessory prayer.  This group of intercessors prays for me as I lead.  Monday night one of our intercessors began to pray that God would touch brokeness in people.  You could tell it wasn't just a passing thought but something she had keyed in on and seemed to be strongly passionate about this night.  As she prayed, God got my attention that brokeness was an important aspect to pray for this night.  Well by "coincidence"  I had a young lady sharing at the end of prayer about how God given her a picture during prayer last week that helped her navigate some recent brokeness. (Look for another post this week with Lucys story).  After she shared, we prayed people who had experienced some kind of brokeness and needed hope.  We had probably 60 people stand who wanted to be prayed for.  
The next day I read a faebook post that said "WOW!!! GOD REALLY DOES ANSWER PRAYER!!!! I was reviewing over my journal tonight from earlier today and I was completely amazed at how exactly God answered the following prayer… () inserted after 

Forget myself tonight. May it be ALL ABOUT YOU. Don’t let the fires started in those 3100 people burn out. (I believe some fires were most certainly rekindled tonight!!!)MOVE IN THE MEETING PLACE TONIGHT. DRAW YOUR PEOPLE TO YOU AND MAY THEY GIVE YOU THEIR BURDENS AND BROKENESS. (HELLO!!! Main topic of what Lucy talked about!!!! God thing!!) Let EVERY SPEAKER speak YOUR WORDS with FLUENCY, BOLDNESS, COURAGE, AND CLARITY.(I do not recall anyone stuttering or speaking anything that didn’t mean something to someone) Thank you for the wonderful relationships you have established in front of me. (Simply by the youth laying hands on a fellow member literally in front of me) For those that are BUSILY PREPARING A TESTIMONY STOP THEM. GIVE THEM ASSURANCE THAT YOUR WORDS WILL COME IN YOUR TIMING. (I totally encountered someone that was doing this but then stopped!!! And with messages like those spoken who else could have said them? No man that’s for sure!) 
At Monday night prayer there continue to be so many that are encountering Gods presence in amazing ways.

This week we celebrated 273 people who were baptized this weekend, 28 first time commitments to Christ, and one young man healed of cancer.  Our God is making His name known in our day and in our time.
 Elements that worked tonight

  • Having Johnny Perez share about how God healed him of cancer in the middle of the worship set, stirred peoples hearts to give thanks and praise.
  • Beginning the evening with stories of what God did for baptism.  We invited people to come to a mic and speak briefly about what God had done.
  • Having people share what God had done for them toward the end, asking anyone to stand who was going through the same thing, and having that person pray over the whole group.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where the Fountains Never Run Dry

Jeremiah speaks of people digging cisterns for themselves that will no hold water.  A cistern is just a reservoir that held water, most of the time carved out in rock.  When the rains came a cistern would hold the water and a cover would be put on them to keep debris out so that when drought came there was extra water.

We try and fill ourselves from many worldly cisterns.  We try to get filled from power, popularity, or finding love in the wrong ways.  These all are cisterns that don't hold water.  They can not be depended on.  They don't have anything in them that nourishes us.

Jeremiah goes on to say that God is the fountain of living water.  He is a cistern that will never run dry.  We can continually go to Him and find what we need.

Monday Night Prayer is becoming known as a cistern.  It is a place where living water is found and filling peoples hearts.   People are coming on Monday nights hungry and anticipating what God will do and how He will meet us and fill us.  They are leaving with more than they came with.

We read out of Acts 4:31 to begin prayer this week.  We prayed we would be filled with Gods Spirit so that we might preach the word of God with boldness.  Worship kicked off with "You Won't Relent" a powerful anthem written by Misty Edwards and redone recently by Jesus Culture.
The song goes:   Come be the fire inside of me      Come be the flame upon my heart      Come be the fire inside of me      Until You and I are one   and that became our prayer last night.

We celebrated what God is doing as He answers many of our prayers.  In our weekend services around 200 people signed up for our baptism celebration this coming week.  We shared stories of people praying to commit their lives to Christ this weekend as they came to the baptism interview and realized they had never asked Christ into their lives.  Another young women prayed that prayer and went back and got a friend.  The friend signed up to be baptized.  Another lady was watching the service online.  She was challenged by the message and came up to the building and signed up to be baptized.  Another family was on their way home from the service and were convicted.   They turned around and signed up to be baptized next week.  As we interviewed those who signed up many had tears in their eyes as they shared how they had committed their lives to Christ and desired to be baptized as Gods word says they should.

We let a new missionary friend from Moldova share.  Vova told us about teaming up with SportQuest in Moldova and how they reach out to the kids in his country.  I think the highlight of the evening may have been when he prayed a blessing over us in Russian.

We prayed for teams going to China, our team on the ground in Chiapas Mexico and for Vova and his ministry.

We then went on and prayed for our upcoming baptism celebration.  We are praying for many friends and family who will come to hear the gospel clearly and make a commitment to Christ themselves.  We also prayed for God to show up powerfully as many people take their next step of obedience with the Lord and are baptized.

We ended our time praying for our lifehouse leaders and life transformation group leaders.  We had them stand and had people gather around them and pray.  We prayed for the marketplace tonight.  We prayed for all those in the housing industry or that serviced houses.

We had our prayer teams come up and be available for prayer from anyone needing that.

Chris Galanos, our lead pastor, closed the meeting as he prayed over all of us.


Elements that worked:

Opening with the reading of a verse and praying is working well.  I like the band already playing in the background when that happens.

Having a prayer team coordinator present during our prayer teams ministry works well.  These coordinators can help see who is done praying and can take someone else, help let people who are in line.

Creating more free space up front (no chairs, carpets out on floor) for the youth and others to come up and stand, kneel and sit during worship.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

When Heaven Comes Down

We know God is with us when we pray.  He says when two or three are gathered in my name there I am among them.  But there are times when Gods presence is magnified.  There is an awareness in us that is heightened.  It's like being the only one at work and the internet is much, much faster.  Your connectedness isn't competing with many other people.

Last night was one of those times for us at Monday Night Prayer.  It was a night Heaven came down and God was all around.  I could sense it before prayer began.  As our intercessory people prayed over me for the service prior to 7:15 I could sense the presence and power of God in a heightened way.  People were responding strongly to God in worship as some kneeled, others cried, some shouted.  The longing in peoples souls for God was evident all around.

I could hear God clearly as He was advising me how to do the ministry time after our worship.  I heard clearly as God gave me a passage from His word to share with our youth.  It was Isaiah 61:1-3.  I heard the thoughts in my mind and heart very clearly, tell them "they are chosen ones".  Tell them they have the capacity to lead.  Tell them I will use them to bring revival.

Last night was also a night where our youth came to prayer as a group.  We had over 100 jr high and high schoolers joining us at prayer.  They aren't bored with prayer, that are excited about God and what He's doing.  We also prayed for upcoming events at Experience Life.  We are praying for our summer baptism celebration that will take place at the swimming pool at the Sportsplex.  Last year we had 100 baptized at this event.  We are praying for double or triple that this year.  We prayed for our next series "No Perfect People Allowed" and that God would bring people who don't know Him.  We prayed for our missions team that is headed to Chiapas Mexico next week.

We closed our time of prayer in worship.  It seemed no one wanted to leave.  All sensed the presence of God and even after we officially closed the service there were pockets of people continuing to pray for one another.  There is something about a place when God is showing up, people don't want to leave.  They like lingering in that place.

It seems obvious God is pleased with our seeking Him on Monday nights and we love it when heaven comes down.

Our hearts cry is:  Let it come, Let your kingdom come and let your will be done in us God !  More God, more of you !
Elements that worked:

Going into a prayer ministry time right after worship worked last night.  We prayed for youth who wanted to be sold out to God, then we let youth pray for adults who wanted "more" in their lives.

Having our lead pastor Chris Galanos close with a blessing over people in prayer was powerful.

Being willing to change the format because of the Holy Spirits leading worked well last night.  We did have to postpone a student who was going to share about what God had been doing in her.

Our intercessors who prayed for me before the service actually gave me some insight into what God wanted for our time.  As they prayed I picked up two key ideas that influenced how I changed the format for the night.

Our worship leader and his sensitivity to what God was doing.  Reading from Gods word as part of worship.

Closing with a song of commitment to God.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

You Can Tell How Popular Jesus Is by Who Comes to Pray !

"You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning.  You can tell how popular the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night.  But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting." (Jim Cymbala).

It seems Jesus popularity is growing.  This month we have averaged about 430 people at our Monday night prayer gathering.  People come expectant of God showing up and being present as we seek Him in prayer.  It seems our expectancy is met with Gods faithfulness.

This past Monday our logistics people were scrambling as we added a ton of chairs in the rink to make room for all who came.  The back story to all this is that at the end of last year and the first of this year we had an attendance at prayer of about 140 people.  We sensed God was leading us to pray that by the end of 2010 we would have 300 in attendance at our corporate prayer gathering on Monday nights.  We are about 1/2 way through the year and God has done abundantly more than we could ask or think.  Attendance is not our goal.  Seeing Gods kingdom extended on the earth is our goal and we know that the more people are involved in prayer, the more we are inviting Gods influence into our existence and He will lead us to extending His kingdom.

One of my favorite times each week is getting to adore God.  It is an aspect of prayer that is easy to miss.  Too often we think of prayer as asking God for things.  The basis of prayer is being connected with God.  Now asking Him for things is part of that connectedness but only one aspect.  There is something about singing songs to God that connects our hearts with His.  I remember reading a book by Jack Hayford on worship.  He says that worship invites and invokes the presence of God.  I believe this is true.  Something about worship connects our hearts with Gods presence and opens our humanity up to the realities of God.  Adoration this past week was sweet.   You could sense Gods presence being a part of the praises of His people.

We prayed for two groups of people this past week.  The first group was people who someone in their past speak some type of discouragement to them.  "Your stupid", "You'll never amount to anything", "Loser", words that are far from Gods truth for us and have been planted in our minds and hearts can plague people and keep them discouraged for a lifetime.  The challenge was for people to be able to accept the truths of Gods word like "you are children", "God loves you", "you are the apple of His eye".  People who struggled with this stood as others prayed for Gods truth to be strengthened in their minds and hearts.

The second group of people we prayed for were those whose past was influencing their future.  There was something in the past they were having a hard time letting go of and it was hindering them pursuing Gods best for their future.  We gathered around those as they stood and prayed for God to help them move on.

I then shared some definitions of revival such as:

Revival is when the Spirit pours out to those in the church and then it runs over to people in community getting saved.

True revival is that divine moment when God bursts upon the scene and displays His glory.

We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.

I also shared on story of Duncan Campbell and the revival at Bernaray.

We then let people come to the mics and pray paragraph prayers asking God to send revival to us.

We all prayed together over some various corporate prayer issues.  And we ended the night by gathering around the rink (we meet in a skating rink).  There were enough people for three circles around the area.  I kept thinking "Our circle or prayer" is growing.  Our lead pastor Chris Galanos prayed over everyone to finish the evening.

At the end, as we always do, prayer teams were around the edge of the front to pray specifically for people.


Elements that worked for the evening:

Having someone read a verse to begin prayer with and then pray for our time.

Ministry time went really well as probably 75 people stood for prayer.

I ask that noone who often prays on the mic come forward tonight and that new people would pray.  we had 10 people who don't often come to the mic pray.

Having two of our prayer team members stand at the open mics to help people be organized and be there if anyone starts to pray way too long.

Keeping lights low during the devotional prayer time that proceeds the actual prayer service.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Process of Monday Nights: Trying to Let God Lead

I always get questions about Monday Night Prayer at Experience Life.  Here is a common one "is Monday Night Prayer led by God or do you plan it ?  My answer would be yes and yes.  I have found both planning and flexibility on the evening to be valuable in hearing God and allowing this prayer time to be led by God.

About every six months I develop a prayer template to use for Monday nights.  I pray and ask God to lead me in developing that template.  I also am attentive to what God is saying to our lead pastor, other pastors and staff, and key prayer leaders within the church.

Currently, we have a general topic of focus for each of the four weeks of the month that we pray for.  If a month has a fifth week I use that week to be creative.  Week one the focus is on vision, week two on specific ministries of the church, week three missions and the city, and week four is for revival and intimacy with God.

Beyond this focus, I have four key areas to focus on each of these nights.  I use the ACTS prayer model for these.  For the A (adoration) we have a musical set with some variation.  We may read a passage of the Bible to begin prayer with and then sing three songs.

After worship we try and listen.  We take a moment to hear what God is saying to us as we have connected with Him in our worship.  Part of this process is I have a core of people with a heart for prayer that help put Monday night together.  These 10 people are listening to God and when I have us wait on God, these guys know they can approach me with a direction for prayer or an inclination they have of something that needs to be said.  Many times during this time we try and have a time of C(confession).  I will initiate people asking God if their is anything that they need to confess and ask for forgiveness about.  A bulk of this would be initiated by a certain passage of Gods word.

Our next step is T (thanksgiving).  We share how many people committed their lives to Christ the previous week and some answers to prayer.  We try and capture both individual answers and corporate answers to prayer the previous weeks.  Many Mondays we will have someone share a story of how God has impacted them.

After thanksgiving we move to S (supplication).  This is a time we are corporately praying for various prayer topics.  We might have people who have been asked to come up and pray beforehand over specific things.  There are nights we will have an open mic, where people are invited to pray paragraph prayers about topics such as missions, revival, or people getting saved in our city.

We follow supplication with ministry prayer.  We will have specific needs stand for prayer.  We might pray for a certain segment of the marketplace.  After fathers day we might pray for all the fathers.  At other times we pray for various ministries of our church and the people there that night who represent those ministries.

Having said all of the above, there are nights when some topic will be strongly on my mind during worship or one of our prayer team will come up and tell me something God is speaking to them.  At this point we may change a little of the night up or a lot.

I really like something Jim Cymbala says in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire "The format of a prayer meeting is not nearly important as it's essence ------ touching the Almighty, crying out with ones whole being. ... The atmosphere of the meeting may vary, what matters most is that we encounter the God of the universe not each other."

Newly added in June
We have added a small intercessory time each week 15 minutes before prayer.  A group of our Monday night leadership team people gather at the front of the building by the stage and join hands and pray over the service each Monday night.  They will also pray for me or anyone else leading that night.  This time of prayer is led by our prayer intern: Matt Martin.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Prayer: Part of our Identity

I was reading through Galatians 5 this last week and it dawned on me, prayer is a core part of the dna of our identity in Christ.  Galatians 5 is about the battle of the old sinful nature and the new reborn nature we have when we commit our lives to Christ.  God has given us some catalysts to walk in this new nature.

The three core catalyst I think of that help us live in this new nature is being in Gods word, spending time with Him in prayer, and  worshiping Him.  These catalyst of the new life promote our awareness of God.  These three illumine our minds to ways that are not our natural bent.  They also awaken our hearts to what is on Gods heart and they strengthen our resolve to pursue God.

With that in mind I realize even more how powerful corporate prayer is.  Chris Galanos, our lead pastor, says "closet prayer changes individuals while corporate prayer changes cities".  It dawned on me that if individual prayer is a catalyst that illumines our minds to Gods ways, awakens our hearts to what is on Gods heart and strengthens our resolve to follow Jesus, then corporate prayer illumines a communities mind to Gods ways, it awakens a communities heart to whats on Gods heart and strengthens a communities resolve to follow Jesus.  Prayer is catalytic to the community and the community becomes a movement.  They are a people on mission empowered by God.

There it is.  The reason so many people are coming to our prayer gatherings is that there is a movement of God that is empowered by coming into Gods presence each Monday night and realizing that this empowering by God is the key to the wondrous way God is moving at Experience Life.

Monday night we reached another threshold, as our attendance was around 475 people in the rink and that doesn't count children that we are teaching about prayer in classes.

We prayed portions of Galatians 5, especially about walking by the Spirit and not walking by our sinful nature.

We had the privilege of having Andy Hurst and some of his family join us.  Andy is the new pastor at St. Lukes Methodist church in town.  We spent time praying over Andy and his family.

We spent time praying for our lifehouse leaders and life transformation group leaders.  We had people who were ending something in their lives stand and we prayed for their transitions.  We had people stand who were beginning something and prayed for Gods favor in that beginning.

We ended the night praying for anyone who wanted to hear God in a clearer way, so basically we prayed for the whole crowd.  And then we had people available up front in our prayer teams to pray for any other needs at the end of prayer.

Some things that worked well for us tonight:
  • Many more people are coming up to our prayer teams at the end of the service.  I thinking it is becoming an accepted part of our prayer culture on Monday night.
  • Using the Jesus Culture DVD "Where you go, I'll go" during our pre-prayer time seem to get people ready to worship and pray.
  • Having three leaders come up and pray over people who were beginning, ending, and wanting to hear God more clearly worked well.  We had two mics and just passed them to those praying over the crowd.
  • Having Band begin to play, but also having someone encourage people to prepare their hearts for God tonight before worship kicked off worked well.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Move of God Only Comes Through Prayer

The last Monday night of each month, we are trying to take more time for intimacy with God and spend time asking Him to send the power of His Spirit that we can fulfill his purposes.  We recognized this monday night was right in the middle of the Pentecost season.  Pentecost was when 120 ordinary people were encountered by the power of the Holy Spirit and were used by God to launch the church age.

These 120 again were just ordinary people who had gathered together for prayer.  The answer came as God equipped them and gave them a mission.  The first fruits of that mission happened then and there, 3000 were saved in one day.

With Acts 2 in mind we began to pray.  For us prayer begins with adoration.  We had a four song worship set.  One great song in that set was "Dance with Me".  This song quotes many verses from the Song of Solomon which is said to be the greatest love song ever.  Sometimes it is called the Song of Songs.   It is obvious, the people at Monday night prayer love to worship.  One of these nights we are going to have a night of worship for all of prayer.  It's funny because every once in while someone will say to me "Why do we sing on Monday nights, doesn't that take away our prayer time ?"  I get the opportunity to share with them how much worship through singing is prayer.  Prayer at its deepest core is relationship with God.  What better way to be in relationship with Him than to let Him speak words of love and adoration to Him.  I have found that this is the avenue that takes us to the place of His heart and He lets us know then what is on His heart to pray.

We opened mics tonight and let anyone with a prayer for revival or asking God to fill us come up and pray.  We spent about 15 - 20 minutes here.  I was so encouraged that many in their teens and college years were the ones praying for God to move in our city.

Prayer that stayed in my mind for the night: A prayer for another great awakening like the second great awakening, a prayer that we would seek revival not just for one hour a week at prayer but that we would have lifestyles of revival and another prayer for God to bring His light in dark places within us and our city.

Parker Foster shared about being a college senior and how he got sick and was out of the loop for over a year.  He talked about how he was broken in a good way.  God dealt with pride in his life.  He told of how he began to have a real relationship with God and not just a hobby of God. 

The hour went much to quickly.  We had our prayer teams come up and saw people waiting to be prayed for.

We do understand that a move of God can't be generated by us, but that we can call out to God and ask Him to move mightily among us.
12 people committed their lives to Christ this past week.  That is why were here.  Sharing these numbers never gets old.