The PAONL Prayer Summit 2015 has come to a close and there is much to reflect on. The special prayer focus, coupled with our discipleship Formission strategy, is not only challenging the movement to grow, but it is connecting the importance of prayer with discipleship. God is leading us to learn from His Word, to support one another, and to be led by His Spirit along the way. While these are simple foundational concepts, they are simply required; especially in a day of great temptation and cheap spirituality.
While I don’t personally enjoy going to conference without my family, I had the rear privilege of driving alone for a few hours. With hardly a sound in the vehicle, God grabbed my attention and painted, what seemed to be, a vision of a moment during the weekend. I saw older pastors connecting and praying with younger pastors, and younger pastors connecting and praying with older pastors. It’s not the first time I had seen such a vision, but it’s the first time the vision was that strong. I reflected as I was driving and came to the resolution that I would share the moment with one of my leaders when I arrived to conference. I was unaware of the meaning or corresponding action; however, the submissive action of handing the vision to leadership appeared peaceable.
The Challenges of God’s Word
Matt Tapley, one of the conference speakers, opened the weekend with a challenging view of God’s will. He told the story of Elijah and the widow who, in obedience, made him bread during a drought. Scripture says she only had enough for one meal for her and her son, but submissively obeyed God through His prophet Elijah. The promise was this: if you obey Elijah, “the jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain…”[i] The widow was looking for relief from the drought. No doubt she prayed for rain, longed for food, or for her circumstances to completely change, but God’s answer was to daily provide for a submissive mother. She obeyed, and the promise was fulfilled. The point is this: she received a great miracle, but it wasn’t the great miracle she was asking for. God shapes and moulds us, but sometimes it’s not the way we expected; and we need to recognize those moments.
Supporting One Another
We jumped ahead to Matthew’s gospel on Friday night where the parable of the weeds[ii] brought new light to the vision I was given. God is sowing good seed in our lives. At the same time, the enemy is sowing weeds among the good seed. They end up growing together and we, as leaders and believers, need to find a way to focus our attention on growing the good seed in our hearts and letting God deal with the weeds. With this, clarity came to me through the phrase: “complement the weeds”. Determine the weeds in our lives and connect and pray with individuals who can help in the journey of praying through those issues in the power of Spirit. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”[iii]
Allowing the Spirit Control
The good news is: the weight is off our shoulders. Once we realize we are saved and sanctified through God’s grace, and not by what we try to do or not do (legalism), we can learn to be empowered and strengthened to be God’s witnesses around the world.[iv] When we depend on the Spirit, both the good seed and the bad seed will still grow together; however, by God’s grace and the support of others in and through the Spirit, God takes care of the weeds, and the good seed is harvested so that God’s glory is revealed in us and through our testimony.
The vision of pastors praying and connecting together is starting to take form. I love the fact that God is growing the vision and surrounding discipleship around a Spiritual gift. I will continue to submit to the direction of His call. As for now, I know I needed to apply the vision to my own life and respond accordingly. In the time ahead, God will be extending comfort zones and exposing weaknesses so that leaders can be strengthened and empowered in the Spirit to further the Kingdom.
So for me, I’ve realized…
I need to connect with a pastor who has experienced the balancing act of leading both a young family and a church assembly. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to undertake in ministry so far. I need a pastor in my life who is willing to lay out their mistakes so I can learn from them. I promise to do the same for those after me, if the Lord should tarry. I need a pastor in my life who listens and is willing to give wisdom. I need a pastor in my life who is willing to learn from me and willing to grow. I need to be a part of a codependent relationship by where we complement each other’s weeds.
Here’s the Developing Challenge I’m working through:
- Discern how God is shaping and moulding me in His will.
- Determine the weeds in my life.
- Develop a codependent relationship to complement the weeds.
- Depend on God’s Spirit to grow.
Through codependent relationships, we need to challenge each other with the Word of God, support each other by “complementing the weeds” in each other’s lives, and rely and depend on the Spirit for strength and direction along the way.
Will you take the challenge? I believe we all need to take the individual step of deciding to do this. If it’s grounded out of obligation, we’ll have trouble getting through the first couple of steps.
If you’re already doing this, feel free to comment below to share relevant ideas and thoughts.
[i] 1 Kings 17:14
[ii] Matthew 13:24-30
[iii] Romans 8:31
[iv] Acts 1:8; Galatians 3:3