Dear First Pres,

   On Sunday I teased a major upcoming initiative. Now, it’s time to start rolling it out. This summer we’re going to focus together on prayer. Prayer is so important in our daily lives as followers of Christ. It’s the way that we connect with God. It’s the way we relate to God. Prayer is what changes Bible reading from reading about God to listening to God. Prayer is what changes singing hymns to worship. Prayer is what changes perseverating about things that make us anxious to receiving the peace of Christ. Corporate prayer is what changes religious activity into kingdom building action. The list goes on and on. Prayer is an incredibly important part of our individual relationship with Christ and our corporate participation in His mission to the world. 

   And, we are in such an interesting time as a congregation. As you’re all keenly aware, we are in the midst of a pandemic that has totally shifted all of our ministry mechanisms. It has forced us into a digital world of ministry opportunity. Our reach, right now, is wider than it has ever been, and yet we need to learn how to connect with those we’re reaching and draw them into Christ’s Community. And we need to increase our encouraging, building-up, loving and caring for one another in the midst of these troubling times. All that, plus, we are in the midst of searching for a new Assistant Pastor (or Director) of Disciple-Making. We’re launching into a new ministry in the Pink House. We’re working to build Go Teams to reach others with the Good News of Jesus. And the list goes on and on.

    That’s why I’m inviting the entire congregation into a special season of praying together. For some, that sentence brings a thrill of excitement to their souls. For others it brings fear and trepidation. But we’re in this together, to help each other grow in Christ. It’s a season for us to lean in with grace and truth as one in prayer.

    Here’s how it’s going to work: we’re encouraging everyone to join a weekly prayer group for the summer. You can launch your own group, refocus your existing group or join one of the open groups that we’re organizing right now. The commitment will be to pray together weekly from June 1 - August 31. Of course, grace abounds for vacations or illness, but the hope is that each group will meet every week, even if some participants can’t make it. And, with the unknowns of this pandemic, “meeting” may take on many forms: conference call, video conference, face-to-face with physical distance … who knows, but each group can figure that out on their own. 

    Meanwhile, we’re going to be preaching about prayer all summer to resource the groups with ways to focus our prayer. This way, every group, though separate, will be praying in unison throughout the summer. 

   I believe God is going to use this in a big way, Beloved. I pray that you will be inspired to be part of a prayer group so that you can get the most out of this season of prayer. More details will be forthcoming, but feel free to get started on forming or reforming your group. Open groups will be available soon.