Phil Miglioratti's Posts (41)

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Pray-Care-Share

Be a Light for Christ

For the Lord has commanded us,
"I have placed you as a Light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth." - Acts 13:47

It's free and confidential.

Blesseveryhome.com gives you the tools to become a Light for Christ in your neighborhood. Join an ever-growing community of Christ followers who are devoted to being a Light in their neighborhoods through praying for, caring for, sharing the gospel with, and discipling their neighbors.

We provide all the tools to get to know your neighbors by name so that you can begin to build relationships with them. Use your dashboard to track your individual progress with each neighbor. You will even receive optional daily reminder emails with a prayer prompt and 5 neighbors to pray for that day.

Features

  • A free personalized and customizable list of your own neighbors so that you can begin to know your neighbors like never before.

  • Color-coded tracking tools to record your Pray, Care, Share journey with each neighbor home.

  • Daily reminder emails featuring a prayer prompt and the next 5 neighbors to pray for that day.

  • A private prayer journal to keep track of prayer requests or notable life events for each neighbor.

  • Access to our collection of resources to help you grow in your ability to bring others to Christ.

  • Ability to connect with your church and share your progress.

  • And much more!

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Start Now!

It's free and confidential.

By transforming your home into a mission outpost and joining the Pray-Care-Share movement, you can be a part of reaching every man, woman, and child for Jesus Christ in America!

CLICK here>>>

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A Paradigm Shift for Business Leaders

 

A Paradigm Shitf for Business Leaders (BL) 

by Thomas Bush

As the pandemic begins to wane, many areas of ministry are doing a “reset.”  Asking the question, “How should we emerge from the pandemic to serve the purposes of God.”  I have been thinking with leaders who gather BLs in their community for equipping and fellowship.  The thoughts represented here are from my training as a community transformation specialist.  

  1. All ministry must "pastor-ed." God had given pastors and ministry leaders as a gift to the Body of Christ to equip believers for ministry. (Eph. 4:11-16) In order to provide a solid, Biblical ministry framework, BLs should seek supportive pastor-ministry partnerships when developing ministry plans – to leverage the training and expertise of pastors and ministry leaders.   
  2. Ministry outside of the local church is necessary.  The community cannot be transformed directly by what happens inside the local church.  The BL should be seen as a sent missionary from the local church.  A BL needs to be equipped to see him or herself as a spiritual force for good in their community. (Example:  The "Good Samaritan" Luke 10:25-37) 
  3. BLs need to be equipped to minister to people in their circle of relationships.   BLs may be the only Bible their co-workers read.  God has placed them where they are to be a fragrance of Christ to them. 
  4. There is a need for BLs to be equipped to lead where God places them. “When things go well for the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.” (Proverbs 11:10 NAS) This includes, leading his business or department in a Christ-like manner, being open to share his faith and Christian world-view with those in his circle of relationships and doing what he can to influence the culture of the business for Christ (Work/life balance, ethical practices, dignity of work, caring for each other, etc.) 
  5. Business leaders should be given a vision for serving together as the "Body of Christ” (BOC) in a locality. Let’s say a group of BLs from the US travel to Mongolia to share their business acumen and faith with native Mongolian people.  They attend different local churches, but choose to work together for the purposes of God in Mongolia. As such, when they choose to work together, they represent the BOC in Mongolia.  
    1. The BOC in a given locale exists across sectors of society.1 It is one of the few entities that crosses sectors.  The BOC exists in the center of the community through its people. A Business BL working with a Non-Profit BL to clothe orphans is “crossing sectors.”  
    2. In the center of the community, the BOC should: 
      1. Collaborate - within sectors and across sectors.  
      2. Communicate:  Share perspectives and insights learned in their sector with other BOC leaders, that is, sharing their learned point of view. 
      3. Cooperate:  Help the BOC grow and excel by sharing expertise, skills, people, etc. when mutually beneficial outcomes can be achieved by BOC partnerships.  
      4. Co-create:  When synergy exists between or across sectors, there are opportunities for the BOC to create something new that never existed before. 

        1As described in “To Transform a City” (Authors: Eric Swanson and Sam Williams) Cities can be described as having 3 sectors, PRIVATE Sector (For-Profit Businesses), SOCIAL Sector (Church, Family, Non-profits) and PUBLIC Sector (Education and Government)
 

©Thomas Bush, Director, Community Impact ROI. communityimpactroi.org, Email: tbush@visionsd.org, (619) 742-8694 

 

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Thomas BushDirector, Prayer Assist Ministries (http://www.prayerassist.org/), and Men Praying Everywhere CA, Email: tbush@visionsd.org, Cell: (619) 742-8694, New Address: 4755 71st St, La Mesa, CA 91942

Prayer Assist consults with and equips pastors, leaders and faith-based organizations to produce more prayer-energized disciples and ministries.

"Prayer is responding to God's invitation to come into His presence"

 

#ReimaginePRAYER... #ReimagineCITIES...

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Stop. Pray. Bless.

PLEASE . . join me in asking the Lord to use our community of prayer-driven Christ followers to invite 10,000 leaders to begin a #ReimaginePRAYER journey, and to equip them to influence their cohorts and congregations, and impact their communities and cities.

Phil Miglioratti

Pray.Network

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What an encouraging prayer call today! (Saturday, September 28)
  • I was a guest on the Prayer Surge NOW!every Saturday national prayer call
  • Dai Sup Han (click & scroll), the facilitator, before our prayer-conversation, told those on the line how God used me to help launch him into a prayer-focused ministry over a dozen years ago (I was honored and blessed by his kind words)
  • I was given the opportunity to explain the unfolding vision God has given me for the #ReimagineFORUM on Pray.Network and Discipleship.Network
  • The prayers and comments in response to this vision were very affirming; leaders seem hungry for a challenge to revision the methods and mechanics, the traditions and trends, of their ministry.
    • Reimagine is not a tinkering with our biblical foundation but it is more than a refreshed commitment (Romans 12:2: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind")
    • To reimagine is an invitation for the Holy Spirit to reveal blind spots or styles of ministry that confine us to the past and make us less effective in a rapidly and radically changing culture (Ephesians 2:6 reveals we are seated with Christ now! in the heavenly prayer gathering; we should listen before we start talking...)
    • #ReimaginePRAYER & #ReimagineDISCIPLESHIP & #ReimagineEVANGELISM ~ these "hashtags" allow leaders to search on Twitter for my posts/links to content prompting a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed, Worship-bred, Corporate-said approach to reimagining process
    • I shared how this template helps me avoid listing before listening when I pray
      • Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7)
      • A - Ask this question before asking for help-healing-hope: "Holy Spirit, how do you want me to focus on my prayer?"
      • S - Seek guidance by being silent, searching scripture, singing a hymn or spiritual song, scribing your prayer
      • K - Know then Knock. When you have discernment and direction, pray with determination ("Come boldly; the door shall be opened")
  • Participants prayed for me, for our networks, and for God to use us to "build ... raise up ... repair ... with results that would reach beyond my lifetime with effectiveness beyond which we can ask or imagine."
How glad I am the Lord is affirming this transition of my ministry focus and format.
And for how he is using you to make it possible,
Phil Miglioratti
#The ReimagineFORUM @ Pray.Network & Discipleship.Network
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Why #Reimagine?

To reimagine is not to change what we believe but how we think.

If we are unable to differentiate between our beliefs (theology, doctrines) and thoughts (ideas, applications, systems, best practices), then we will ultimately be unable to defend our values and discern the foundations of social change and political preferences.

To reimagine, is to rethink, review and revise, prompted by a Holy Spirit revealed fresh-for-our-times application of the unchanging truth of Scripture. We  are blessed by and greatly benefit from but are not bound by tradition. 

To reimagine is not to rely on human imaginations; just the opposite, it is a yielding to the revelation of the Holy Spirit that infuses human thinking with the mind of Christ which allows us to know the will of our Holy God. A  unique application to our times and our trials. 

To reimagine, individuals – cohort groups - congregations – collaborations, must employ the gifts of the Holy Spirit (especially prayer) and the resource of scripture.

To refuse to reimagine, is actually an act of disobedience, because we are commanded to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we ( individually and corporately) demonstrate God's will is good for all. So that means  our leadership and ministries,  not just our personal moral life  must be transformed: our disciple making, prayer, evangelism, church itself…

We should expect the renewing of our mind, a reimagination led by the Spirit, to result in great works for a great God.

Take faith! #Reimagine

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Why #Reimagine?

To reimagine is not to change what we believe but how we think.

If we are unable to differentiate between our beliefs (theology, doctrines) and thoughts (ideas, applications, systems, best practices), then we will ultimately be unable to defend our values and discern the foundations of social change and political preferences.

To reimagine, is to rethink, review and revise, prompted by a Holy Spirit revealed fresh-for-our-times application of the unchanging truth of Scripture. We  are blessed by and greatly benefit from but are not bound by tradition. 

To reimagine is not to rely on human imaginations; just the opposite, it is a yielding to the revelation of the Holy Spirit that infuses human thinking with the mind of Christ which allows us to know the will of our Holy God. A  unique application to our times and our trials. 

To reimagine, individuals – cohort groups - congregations – collaborations, must employ the gifts of the Holy Spirit (especially prayer) and the resource of scripture.

To refuse to reimagine, is actually an act of disobedience, because we are commanded to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we ( individually and corporately) demonstrate God's will is good for all. So that means  our leadership and ministries,  not just our personal moral life  must be transformed: our disciple making, prayer, evangelism, church itself…

We should expect the renewing of our mind, a reimagination led by the Spirit, to result in great works for a great God.

Take faith! #Reimagine

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#OMG

#OMG ... so many people have no idea how many times they take the name of the Lord our God in vain. 

Any time we speak/think "God" but use it as only as a word/term and not as a cry for mercy or an expression of thanks, we misuse God's name.

Go ahead; count the number of times you toss "God" around today.

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Why #Reimagine?

Why #ReimagineCHURCH?

Because Tradition, Trends, and Tacticts are insufficient to capture the hearts and minds of the brave new world.

Some are content with tradition. Some reach for the latest, trendiest, best practice. Others plunge into planning, strategizing.

We need leaders who are not limited by their traditions nor conformed to trends or tactics but seek instead to be transformed by the renewing of how they think. Rethink motivations, review methods, revise messaging.

A process led by the Holy Spirit that reveals the mind of Christ which reveals the will of our Creator.God.

Pray for champions who will lead the capital 'C' Church to #ReimaginePRAYER ...

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Notes for a Zoom Interview

ZOOM Interview Questions

(1)    You advocate for prayer and church renewal across a variety of social media platforms, tweeting avidly and blogging at https://churchleaders.com/https://discipleshipnetwork.ning.com/https://praynetwork.ning.com/, and https://prayforsurfblog.blogspot.com/. Please share with us your strategy for ministry.

  • My strategy is launched from Romans 12:2 (my paraphrase and application to prayer):
    • Don't be limited to the prayer customs and traditions of your church experience, rather, transform you praying by a Holy Spirit initiated and directed renewing of your mind, so that your praying demonstrates that God and God's will are good for us, produce pleasure for us, and are perfectly suited to our needs.

(2)    How is it that you came to be involved specifically in prayer ministry?

  • A Holy Spirit interruption in a Sunday morning church gathering that led me to pray with pastors, that birthed in me a passion to find and launch pastors' prayer groups, first in my city then across the nation and across the globe.
  • www.NPPNblog.blogspot.com

(3)    To many of us it seems that there is an increasing focus on prayer in the churches in America and around the world. What is your view? Are we on the brink of a revival? What are the signs?

  • More of the same kind of praying will not bring transformation, breakthrough, revival
  • More weak prayers cannot produce strong prayers
  • We are better at listing our requests than listening for God's requests (the leading of the Spirit)
  • ..But I believe, if we follow God in the revising of the Church, we will see a reviving of the Church (if we look for new and different markers)

(4)    What is the secret to founding and sustaining movements of prayer?

  • The Holy Spirit is the secret. Find out what God is inviting you into then surrender, give 110%
  • A new discipline in prayer: Ask.
    • A = Ask. Rather than ask first for a "thing" (help me, heal me, fix me), ask a questions ("Holy Spirit, how should I pray about my need today?")
    • S = Seek. Seek by stopping (that keeps us from asking too quickly for that thing we think we need but have not consulted the Lord on). Seek by looking into scripture(seek the mind of Christ). Seek in silence ("Be still and know/experience God"). Seek by singing. Seek by scribing (write your thoughts, your prayer...)
    • K = Knock. Knock on the door of heaven. Expect to enter. In fact, you are already seated in the heavenlies with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), so join in the divine trialogue: Mighty God, Lord and Savior, Holy Spirit in communion and communication. "Knock" loudly ("Come boldly into God presence")

(5)    What would it mean for the church to be united today? How would we recognize this unity? What can we do as Christians to pursue the unity for which Jesus prayed in John 17.

  • John 17 unity is relational more than religious, organic more than organizational, prophetic rather than political, responsive more than regulating …
  • Unity is built when Christian leaders:
    • Communicate how God is at work in their midst through their ministries to impact their communities
    • Connect for prayer
    • Convene for Spirit-led discussion and interaction, all of which eventually leads to
    • Collaboration; unity that is expressed by:
      • Activity coordination, or
      • Ministry cooperation, or
      • Authentic collaboration (beyond helping or serving one another; designing a true partnership)

 

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Effective Prayer

I consider these makers as basic objectives of effective praying:


• Spirit-led:  Seek first the Spirit ... "What is the mind of Christ (topic/focus that is prompting me to pray?" Be still and wait for direction and the discernment to know who to pray in concert with Jesus as he intercedes to the Father. Begin with listening, not listing.

• Worship-bred:  Every prayer must be born out of worship; praise, petition, posture ...

• Scripture-fed:  Launch your prayer from the word of God; scripture is foundational. The Holy Spirit is waiting to guide you into praying; launch your prayer by reading or reciting scripture.

• Corporate-said: Pray with others but pray as in a concert (each person makes a different sound but plays from the same sheet of music), not as in a recital (each person takes their turn and simply goes down their list). Make a joyful noise; together.

• Globally-spread: Our prayers are for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done. Effective prayer often begins after we have reviewed our lists (listing simply tells God what he already knows). 

Try this: Before you move from one request to the next, add "so that." The Spirit can use those two words to extend your praying from the obvious need to the greater will of God, no matter what the issue or need or problem. "Lord heal my friend ... so that ... he can return to work and support his family."

Phil Miglioratti

Pray.Network

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Pastors’ Strategies for Mobilizing Men to Pray

Without a vision, the warriors perish.”  (Proverbs 29:18, my paraphrase)

In every war, warriors need generals who sound the battle call clearly and loudly. Spiritual warfare is no different.  Men must be summoned to the fight by a visionary leader, and that leader should be their pastor.

If men are going to effectively fight on their knees, they will need pastors who take spiritual warfare and strategic prayer personally and seriously. Victory requires a new breed of shepherd–one who leads the way into the arena of prayer.  And every victory is the result of a comprehensive strategy.

Strategy 1 -The Man

PASTORING HAS CHANGED dramatically in the last 50 years.  One of the clearest indications is how the sign on the pastor’s door has changed from “Study” to “Office.” The pastor is now more a manager or corporate executive officer than a student or a disciple.

A call to war is a call to change.  Pastors must reclaim their role as one who leads the troops into battle (see Joshua 5:13-6:27).  They cannot do this solely from the boardroom; they must lead both from and into the prayer room.  Our spiritual leaders must rediscover and reclaim the apostles’ passion of devotion to prayer and the Word (see Acts 6:4).

Crucial Questions
Pastor, what do you need to change in your schedule in order to be devoted to prayer (see Colossians 4:2)?
Will you commit to strengthening your personal prayer life by reading a book on prayer? Attending a prayer training conference? Participating in a pastors’ prayer group? (See end of article.)  Who can you trust to hold you accountable when you share this commitment with them?

Creative Activities
Take your calendar (or Palm Pilot) and add a one-hour appointment, one day a week, for the next five weeks.
Divide the appointment between reading on prayer, journaling on prayer (your personal observations), writing on prayer (articles for the church bulletin or newsletter), and of course, praying.

Strategy 2 -The Message

WARRIORS NEED a battle plan, and they must receive those clear instructions from the teaching ministry of their pastor (see 1 Corinthians 14:8).  Prayer must become the topic of sermons and messages, the focus of class and group study, the example and illustration in teaching and preaching.  For too long, prayer has been the one thing we have not taught new believers (nor veterans, for that matter).  We assume they must know how to pray since they “prayed to receive Christ.”  Prayer has been unused and misused because the leaders have not trained soldiers in this weapon of war (see 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:18).

Crucial Questions
Pastor, when can you next preach on prayer? Will it be a single sermon? A series?
How can you best survey your congregation about prayer?  Ask them to tell you their most significant questions, problems, and hopes about prayer in regard to their personal life and the life of the church.

Creative Activities
Go surfing online to find prayer resources: books, teaching videos, networks.

Schedule a planning session with those who make curriculum choices for your church ministries.  Devote 50 percent of the meeting to prayer and 50 percent to discerning how the Lord wants the church to be taught about prayer.  Apply what you discover to sermons, Sunday school classes, small groups, Bible studies, and the various ministries of the church (youth, children, singles, couples, and seniors).

Strategy 3 – The Motivation

PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL because it is essential, not because it is the latest topic or trend, and not because the pastor read a book or attended a conference and now feels guilty.  For men to fight on their knees, they will require more than a battle call; they must have a battle cry. They must grasp the reason, pulsate with the passion, and embrace the vision. A battle cry is loud, not simply to catch everyone’s attention, but to express deep desire and desperation.  A pastor who wants to lead his men into battle must have a cry, a burden; he cannot simply make an announcement.

Our motivation is the call and the cry of our Lord and Leader in John 17:3-4 (NIV): “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

Our motivation?  A desire for the church to complete the work God has given us to do–so that those who do not know the only true God would receive eternal life through faith in Christ, and so that God would receive glory on earth.  The battle and the victory are all for God!  We fight with and for the Creator of the universe.  Our cry: “Jesus rules!”  “To hell with evil!”  “God loves the world!”

Crucial Questions
Pastor, how can you make the teaching and preaching about prayer a motivating experience to your congregation?

Does your congregation know the ultimate purpose of prayer (not to change circumstances but to bring glory to God)?  How would this paradigm shift change their praying?

Creative Activities
During the next three weeks, attend every prayer meeting you can. Identify what makes the meeting motivational or what makes it boring and irrelevant.  Review your observations for the purpose of revising prayer in your congregation and using it effectively at different points. During weeknight prayer meetings? Committee and board meetings? Church services? Sunday and weekday classes?

Take a group of men on a prayer journey through Scripture.  Skim the book of Acts, stopping at each “prayer meeting” to determine what motivated the church to come to the place of prayer and what kept them there.  Ask your men what would help them to begin to pray with the same vibrancy and conviction seen in the Book of Acts.
Next time you have an appointment with the Lord, ask the Holy Spirit to give you God-inspired ideas for motivating men to pray.

Strategy 4 -The Model

MEN WILL NOT follow a man who simply teaches them about prayer, but they will die with a man they see and hear in prayer.  Christian men are looking for a leader who is unafraid to plunge into the deeper waters of communication and cooperation with God.
The most eloquent sermon is powerless if the preacher cannot supply the evidence of personal experience, both success and failure. The most gifted teacher cannot persuade men to change their lifestyle if he has not done the same in the crucible of prayer.

Crucial Questions
Pastor, what do you need to change and what must you begin to do in order to become your own sermon illustration?
Can you think of seven to nine men (young and old) who might be learning the value of prayer because they are watching your life?  How will you restructure your personal prayer times to include intercession for them to become valiant men of prayer following your example?

Creative Activities
Preach on “Epaphras: Prayer Warrior” (from Colossians 4:12-13).
Take a group of men on a retreat that combines recreation (men crave action), study (unpack your sermon on Epaphras), and prayer (“Lord, what will it take to turn us into prayer warriors?”).

Strategy 5 -The Mentor

GENERALS NEED CAPTAINS.  Every pastor must select, train, and disciple a man who not only can serve (and pray) alongside him but can also cast vision and lead other men with passion (see 2 Timothy 2:2). This, dear Barnabas, is your Saul who needs to be transformed into a Paul (see Acts 12:25;13:6-9). This, General Paul, is your Timothy who must become your Captain in Ephesus (see 1 Timothy 1:3). You will need to call all men to prayer, young and old, mature or new to the faith.  But ask the Holy Spirit to point out those who have the calling, gifting, and anointing to become vision-casters and passionate leaders.

Crucial Questions
Pastor, has the Lord revealed the Sauls in your ministry who have the potential of becoming Pauls? How many Timothys are you praying for as you mentor them?
Could you be more effective in the next twelve months at mobilizing the men of your congregation if you were to read a book on the dynamics of mentoring? What can you do in this next year to improve your mentoring and discipling skills?

Creative Activities
Invite your Sauls and Timothys to meet with you regularly (at least once a month) to mentor them into deeper personal prayer and in prayer leadership skills.
Take several men to a prayer conference. Build in some “guy” time as well as debriefing: “How can we bless our church/men’s ministry with what we have learned?”

Strategy 6 -The Ministry

TO CALL YOUR MEN to war on their knees, should you create a new ministry that has a value and focus on prayer, or should you bring a new value and focus on prayer to existing ministries? Answer: Yes!

Pray for direction on what additional activity might enable more men to experience the adventure of prayer.  But also pray for discernment on how to bring prayer to the places where men are already gathering, whether for ministry, study, work, or recreation.

Crucial Questions
Pastor, if you were a member (and not the pastor) of your church, what would have to happen for you to take the plunge and attend a men’s prayer meeting?
Who needs to issue the call? Who should be invited? Who should lead?
What makes this meeting unique? Challenging? Fulfilling?
Where is a location that feels like a place men would open up and really pray?  The gym before a game of volleyball or basketball? A corporate conference room?  A jogging or hiking trail?  Your van parked by the commuter train before they leave for the city?
When is a time that adds to the challenge?  5:30 A.M. on a weekday?  7:00 A.M. in your study (or office) on Sunday?  Surprisingly, men respond to unusual times.
Why is this a good use of their time?
How will you use peer influence to get men to the place of prayer?

Creative Activities
List every event, activity, ministry, and meeting in which men participate throughout a normal church year.  After each one, list how prayer can become more of a value in that setting and what you will do to make it happen.  Below are some examples of what you could do for men’s prayer in different categories.

In their homes:
Challenge husbands to pray with their wives every day for at least two minutes during the next thirty days. Meet to debrief:  A good discussion starter is, “What did God have us pray that we have not prayed before?”
Ask fathers to pray for their children for a week, then pray over each child in the Sunday morning service (invite them to the front of the congregation).

For you, the pastor:
Challenge men to commit to pray for you while at work, perhaps one specified day a week.
Invite them to meet with you Monday mornings to pray for next Sunday’s sermon.
Create a group that communicates prayer requests through e-mail.
Encourage them to fast and pray for you as they skip a meal once a week.
Have seven to twelve men gather around you on Sunday mornings before the service. This “Sunday Prayer Huddle Group” could meet for one month, then rotate with another group.

During church services:
Equip the ushers to pray before services (for gifts of hospitality), during services (to bless each person they serve), and after services (for visitors and those who are hurting or absent).

In the community:
On the day when kids are praying at school through the See You At The Pole program (usually the second or third Wednesday of September), have fathers stop at their local school before they go to work to stand in support of their children at the largest prayer meeting in the world (see end of article).
Ask men to meet at the church, pray for God’s presence and protection, then travel to locations in the community that are enveloped by evil or by spiritual darkness.  Spend an hour walking, praying, blessing, and inviting the Lord to reign and rule in the schools, the stores, and the homes.  See the problems, but pray the promises!

Men’s ministry functions:
Challenge the men to devote ten to fifteen minutes to pray for one another either before or after each study.
Hold a yearly men’s retreat at which you make prayer the theme. Invite a prayer facilitator to co-lead the retreat with you.  You can teach, and let the guest guide the group into new prayer experiences.
Ask men to choose a prayer partner (“tele-friend”) whom they will “meet” on the phone once a week so that they can pray for each other, their families, the pastor, the church, and the community.

A true, biblical call to war is so much more than a longer message or a louder sermon next Sunday.  It is a call that must first be heard and deeply felt by the pastor. It is a call that must come through his life, his teaching, and his leading.  For boys to become men in prayer, they must watch and listen to the prayers of their pastor and the men he prays into leadership. When your men hear you pray like Jesus, they will want to spend time with Jesus and talk with the One who prayed “with loud cries and tears to the One who could bring victory in the battle. And he was heard.” (Hebrews 5:7, my paraphrase)   

Notes:
1. To find a book about prayer, check out www.navpress.com/praymag.asp.  To locate a prayer training conference, go to www.nalcpl.net.  To find a pastors’ prayer group, search www.nppn.org/ppg.
2. To learn more about the See You at the Pole program, go towww.syatp.com.

This article first appeared in the book Fight On Your Knees.  Used by permission of NavPress.  Copyright 2002, all rights reserved, www.navpress.com.

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All You Need Is Love?

If, as the Beatles say, all you need is love and if, as the scripture says, God is love, is it possible to have authentic,  transforming, forgiving empowering, love without a relationship with God?

If you say you believe in God, you cannot not have love as your motivation and message in everything you say and do.

If you truly believe that all you need is love, and there truly is a God who is love, you cannot say a relationship with that God is optional.

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PICK YOUR PASSION STORY

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

- John 3:16

PICK YOUR PASSION STORY

Good Friday services are difficult for me. The songs and the sermons that pound away at the pounding Jesus took; his bruising and bleeding, the stripes and the scars. As if I should be motivated to believe and obey simply because his pain was so intense. 
 
Of course, I do not minimize our Lord's excruciating ordeal. And, yes, I am truly sorrowful it was my sin that required his sacrifice. But it is essential to realize his submission to that death sentence was a by-product of his love—from eternity past. My gospel witness, sharing the gift of God’s grace that proceeds from the cross to all who believe, should be motivated by joy—the deepest gratitude of knowing that God in Christ has done for me what I could never even attempt for myself. 
 
I do not need to wait for Resurrection Sunday. Jesus was victorious every stage of his life from birth, to maturity, in ministry, and yes, even when dying on the cross. Good Friday was not a setback before some bottom-of-the-ninth rally.
 
As a witness to this passion-provoked story, my life and my conversations must express and explain how God’s eternal passion opens the door to our salvation and our culture’s transformation. I must become part of the community of Christ-followers who “make love (their) aim” (1 Corinthians 14:1). 
 
I am proposing the appropriate sorrow for our sin is not to feel sorry for Jesus every Good Friday, but to be moved by the tests, trials, and culminating torture of his incarnation to show and tell the good story of what Jesus’ death achieved and what God offers to those who trust him. 
 
Make our Lord’s passion, your passion. Not his pain, but the love that sent him, the love that saved us, the love he wants to express and extend through us.
 
Prayer: Lord, thank you for what you did, but even more, why you did it. Your submission to the eternal plan of the Sovereign God, the Savior, our Spirit, defeated death, provided forgiveness, and opened the door of endless, limitless life with God. Make me into a love-motivated, gospel-sharing Christ-follower. Amen.
 
 
- Written by Phil Miglioratti

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Become an ABC Prayer Champion

Become an ABC Prayer Champion

Always Be Creative

When we are introduced to God in Genesis, God is creating something awesome and beautiful with a creative potential of its own.

When we gather people to worship God's attributes or wonder about God's word, to work with God on mission, we should always be creative.

Hear from different voices and envision with different visuals. Use questions to help build competent disciples.

Preach and pray through creative presentation or exploration of Scripture, Song, Story, Statement, Supplication ...

Prayer experiences must become:

  • Spirit-led (yield, submit, follow)
  • Worship-bred (sing songs that speak to God)
  • Scripture-fed (launch each prayer from a passage)
  • Corporate-said (an orchestral, not a recital)
  • Community-shed (the holy huddle prayers for others)

Phil Miglioratti
Pray.Network

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Spiritual Formation Meets Prayer Ministry


We gratefully post this chapter with permission from InterVarsity Press (you may link to this post but may not revise it in any way) ... The recent rise of spiritual formation must catch the attention of practical-minded prayer leaders and pragmatic-focused small group leaders - This book will help build those relationships. 
===>Click title below to access information or to purchase this book.


Chapter 9

Sharing the Journey Of Prayer
Rebecca was scheduled to present one evening in our spiritual direction group at church . She began by saying, "Tonight I want to talk about my prayer life ." Then she told us how it was changing, what she liked and didn't like about it, and the questions she had about her own ways of praying . The group listened, affirmed and asked questions to help her process her experience . She seemed encouraged . But in all honesty, it was one of those experiences of group spiritual direction where I wondered if anything had "happened ."

Reflecting back on the time, I realized that something astounding had happened: Rebecca had been given the opportunity to talk with several other people about prayer--one of the most intimate and mysterious experiences of life . As she talked about how she prayed, her prayer life became more real and more alive for her . She was no longer alone in this deeply personal part of her relationship with God . Furthermore, as she shared about her experiences in prayer and received the companionship of others, she opened herself to more of the companionship of God .

Prayer is Love
St . Augustine said the "true, whole prayer is nothing but love ." The subtitle of Richard Foster's book on prayer is Finding the Heart's True Home. Praying, then, is like coming home to a loving God . In my own life, I like to think of prayer as the experience of running into the arms of God, who is waiting for me just as the father waited for the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24) . Michael Casey says that "prayer is not just dialogue; it is the first stage of surrender ." When I pray, I am surrendering myself to the love of God .

We often think of prayer as something we do or say . "I prayed," we tell our friends, "that God would heal [or help, or give me something] and God answered my prayers ." There is nothing wrong with praying that God will help us and heal us, but this description of prayer misses the point . It sounds like we're in charge, like we make something happen by praying . We give God instructions . This is not what prayer is really about . If, as Augustine said, prayer is nothing but love, then when we pray, we are allowing ourselves to be loved by God and we open ourselves to experience and to reflect that love in whatever way it's manifested . Prayer is not something we do to control life, just as love is not something we control . Love is something we receive and we give. Prayer, then, is a gift we receive from God that allows us to participate in the work of love which God is doing in our lives and in the world .

Spiritual direction is all about our relationship with God . Prayer is at the heart of that relationship . The more we can learn about prayer, the more equipped we'll be to companion others in their prayer experiences . In this chapter, then, we'll look at prayer in light of Scripture, our daily lives and our spiritual journey .

Prayer and Scripture
People who are experienced in prayer often notice that their prayers are deeply rooted in Scripture . When they pray, they pray Scripture .

Calvin Miller says that "the key in all of our Scripture praying is to let the Word become the mode of our transport . . . . When we are reading the Scripture, the border between Scripture and prayer becomes so thin that they meld into each other and we are united with God ." We do this when we read slowly, as in lectio divina . We do this when we stop our reading and muse on a truth we see in Scripture . We do this when we carry a verse or two in our minds and hearts throughout the day . And we do this when we use the words of Scripture to pray our own prayers .

I have found that praying the Scriptures is a very helpful way to express my inner desires when they are hidden by stress, defeat or anxiety . At one difficult time in my life, all I could do was pray the prayer of Job: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (Job 13:15 niv) . That may have been a little dramatic, but praying those words helped me hope . Another time Psalm 23:4 became my prayer: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . ." As I prayed this, the operative word for me was through . I prayed that God would lead me through the valley of the death of my expectations for my life at that time, that I would make it through the changes which were happening in my circumstances, and that God would sustain me and strengthen me to do what needed to be done as I walked through the valley . On more ordinary days, I often pray that God will "carry me" as God promised through the prophet Isaiah that he would carry the Israelites (Isaiah 46:3) . When Scripture becomes my prayer, I am drawn closer to God, the author of all truth .

When we meet together in group spiritual direction, Scripture provides a foundation for our conversations about prayer, whether this foundation is verbalized or not . Most of the time we'll just listen, and hear how others have prayed and experienced Scripture in their own lives . Occasionally, we may suggest something from Scripture ourselves, but we do this tentatively and lovingly . In a recent group experience, during one of the times of silence, words of Scripture came to my mind with unusual clarity . After the silence, I mentioned the words to the person presenting . But I didn't elaborate or pontificate on them . I just offered them to her . If those words turned out to be a way for her to pray about what she had presented, I'm grateful . I didn't need to give her my application of the truth of that Scripture . That's the job of the Holy Spirit, who gives us truth, in love, at the moment we can hear it .

Examining our Daily lives
Ignatius, who was known for his advice on discernment, suggested a discipline which can also be a form of prayer: the daily examen . This is not, as I first thought, a time to think and pray about all of our sins . It is, rather, a way to reflect on our day, in dialogue with God . After we take a minute or two to quiet our hearts and focus our attention, we think back over the last day or two . Then, in the presence of God, we notice the times when we felt the closest to our loving Father . These may be times when we felt joy or freedom or a deep sense of God's presence . They may even be times when we felt conviction--the conviction that comes with the invitation to return to God's love . Then we notice the times when we felt most distant from God, such as times when we felt anxious or discouraged or tied up in knots . In these moments we might have felt that the weight of the world, or at least our own lives, sat squarely on our own shoulders .

This is not a prayer of request or commentary . In this prayer experience, we simply notice . It is a prayer of relationship . It is sharing our day with the Holy Spirit of Love . After we pray this way, we may want to move into confession, petition or intercession . But first of all we look "with the eyes of [our] heart" (Ephesians 1:18) to see our lives as God sees them .

Some people have found that this prayer of examen is a good way to begin group spiritual direction . This is especially helpful in a setting where people are not used to thinking of God intersecting their lives in intimate ways . When the group gathers, allowing a brief time for this reflective prayer can be a good way to quiet down before the presenter begins . This can remain a personal experience, or it could lead to a time of brief sharing .

Prayer on the Journey
Prayer is an integral part of our spiritual journey . It is the essence of our communion with God . Sometimes our prayers are verbal, sometimes they're silent . Sometimes we can describe our prayer life, sometimes it's beyond description . Sometimes we seem to initiate our prayers, and sometimes it seems as though God speaks to us first .

Brendan, the Celtic pilgrim, was known for his seafaring journeys, undertaken out of spiritual longing and obedience . Calvin Miller wrote this about Brendan:
When the wind died and the sail hung limp, the men rowed, though they knew not where . Finally Brendan ordered the fatigued rowers to stop . He cried, "God is our helper . He is our navigator and helmsman, and he shall guide us . Pull in the oars and the rudder . Spread the sail and let God do as he wishes with his servants and their boat ."

Sometimes as we pray, we sense that the Spirit is inviting us to stop our hard rowing, pull in the oars and let God guide the boat . We need to let go . Letting go of our own agenda does not mean that it won't happen, or that it is necessarily contrary to the will of God . It just means that we stop trying so hard . We receive, rather than make something happen . We let God guide the boat . This sense of letting go is at the heart of prayer .

Thomas Keating, well known for his teaching and writing about prayer, suggests that there are three desires we need to let go of: our desire for control and power; our desire for affection, esteem and approval; and our desire for security and survival . In all honesty, when I read that list, my first response was, "That will never happen!" And many times since then, as I have prayed "I let go of my desire for control, affection and security," I find myself having this one-way conversation with God:
  • "Well, actually, I don't let go at all ."
  • "But I want to ."
  • "Well, I sort of want to ."
  • "God, help me want to ."
The experience of letting go, I have found, is not something for the faint-hearted in prayer . It is not something we learn once and then live out of ever-after . It is, rather, the syntax of our ongoing spiritual journey . Over and over again we remember that God invites us to let go . Jesus, the God of the universe, is in our boat. (Remember the story in Mark 4:35-41 .) When we pray, sometimes God invites us to pull in the oars, spread the sails and let God take us where he wills .

Silent Prayer
When we "pull in our oars," we may find that we have nothing else to say . This reflects the experience of Paul that he described in his letter to the church at Rome . He wrote that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words" (Romans 8:26) . I like to think that when I am silent in prayer, the Holy Spirit is interceding for me "according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27) .

In writing about silent prayer, Thomas Keating describes centering prayer, which is the experience of being intentionally silent before God . Keating suggests that when we pray in silence, we use no words, we do not dwell on any thoughts, and we do not follow the wanderings of our minds . It is, as he says, like taking a vacation from ourselves . Keating recommends that we intentionally do this for twenty minutes twice a day . Many people have found that this discipline deepens their relationship with God immensely .

Other people are helped just by remembering that silence, as well as words, can be prayer . "For God alone my soul waits in silence," the psalmist wrote (Psalm 62:1) . If prayer is nothing but love, then that love can be expressed silently or with words .

Spiritual Direction as Prayer
When we meet in group spiritual direction, we want to encourage each other to grow in whatever ways the Spirit leads us to pray . In some literature, spiritual direction is actually called prayer, since it's a coming together in the presence of one another to listen to God, and then, as we talk with one another and sit in times of silence, it offers time to talk to God . Walter Wangerin says that in prayer, we talk and God listens . Then God talks and we listen . In group direction, we talk and we listen .

This is what happened when Elizabeth presented in her group . She chose to talk about how sad she was that a close friend, Lynn, was moving away, and that she feared she was too attached to Lynn . Elizabeth talked and God listened . Elizabeth's friends, in whom the Spirit dwells, also listened . Then they entered a brief time of silence for members of the group to listen to God . After that the group listened again to Elizabeth and affirmed her love for Lynn . Members of the group observed that God loved Lynn even more than Elizabeth did . The response of the group completed the circle of prayer because through their support, God talked and Elizabeth listened . In this way, the group experience was indeed prayer .

Becoming Pray-ers
Early in our experience of parenting, my husband and I were drawn to a quote we saw on a seminary bulletin board: "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother ." Even as young parents, we had an inkling that this was true . In a similar way, one of the best things we can do to become better spiritual companions of others is to seek to deepen our own prayer lives and relationship with God . As we grow closer and more in love with our heavenly Father, we are more inclined and better equipped to love God's children . In group spiritual direction, we can do this by offering to one another what Rebecca and Elizabeth's groups offered to them: against the background of our own love for God, we listen, support and reflect back what we hear as someone describes his or her own prayer life .

Because we ourselves are pray-ers, we know the many questions prayer brings and can include in our group spiritual direction conversations gentle and nonjudgmental questions about prayer such as
  • What is it like for you when you pray about this situation you're presenting?
  • How has prayer been helpful to you in the past?
  • What are some new ways you might like to experience God in prayer?
As with many of the questions we ask, the words are not as important as asking the question in an inviting, compassionate way .

Prayer in Group Spiritual Direction
Sometimes groups can offer to pray for the person presenting at the end of their presentation, but it's important to ask the presenter if that sounds like a good idea . Also, some people in the group may not feel comfortable praying out loud, so it might be good to suggest silent prayer, with the group leader closing either with the Lord's Prayer or a simple "Amen ." Alternately, one person could volunteer to pray on behalf of the whole group .

If your group chooses to pray aloud, remember that the purpose of prayer is to bring your friend's needs to God, not to talk to your friend about what he or she needs to do . I have been in groups where people have prayed, "God help this friend do [or believe, or think] such-and-such ." When that happens, prayer can sound a lot like preaching--which is not part of spiritual direction . But even with that precaution, prayer can be a truly meaningful group experience . Every group will need to come to their own way of praying .

In his book The Path of Celtic Prayer, Calvin Miller tells another story about Brendan that gives some hints for us in approaching prayer in group direction . In this particular story, the monks who were with Brendan on his sea journey saw land in the distance .

Then the monks were filled with joy and began to row as quickly as they could . When [Brendan] saw this, he said: "Don't row so hard, or you will exhaust yourselves . Is almighty God not the helmsman and captain of our ship? Do not strain yourselves, since he guides us where he will ."

This is a metaphor for me of what can happen on our prayer journey . We can have a prayer experience that seems like we have "arrived," or at least come to some milestone that is meaningful to us . It is, metaphorically, as though we are in a ship and we see land . Naturally, we want to row hard and take everyone with us! But once again, Brendan reminds me that it may be better to pull in the oars and let God guide us all .

In meeting together for group spiritual direction, we have agreed to get into the same boat . But the landscape we are heading toward, especially in prayer, will look a little different for all of us . The invitation we give to one another is to be in the boat together, but not necessarily to row harder and harder . Instead of rowing we are invited to pray, alone or together, and see where God guides us .

[Coaching? Teaching? Preaching? on prayer - Contact Phil@nppn.org]

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