I wrote yesterday on critical components to establishing a specific culture in your church community. One component that is often overlooked is messaging. Many times leaders desire a certain culture, but their messaging actually inhibits the building of that culture. Leaders teach what they know. And so if they desire a certain culture beyond what they know it requires them to learn the messages that will build that culture. It can’t be an empty parroting, they must learn the messages at the heart level. A leader must be moved by the message himself, if he expects to move his hearers. Once he learns the messages, he can then declare them and begin to shift the culture. In developing a culture of prayer I have found several messages that are essential. I encourage you to give yourself to these messages until they move your heart and then begin to proclaim them in your community.
1. Intimacy with God
This is the essential message to developing a culture of prayer. God has designed prayer as a means for His people to connect with Him relationally. Many believers relate to God as a servant without revelation of His desire to be known by them. If people relate to God through a lens of service, duty or shame, they won’t pray. And when they do, it will be dutiful and shame-filled. Prayer is the communication path that is born from a heart filled with love and a desire. When I teach the intimacy message, I teach it from one of three angles: The Knowledge of God, The Father Heart of God and The Bridal Paradigm. Intimacy with God is the foundational component to developing a culture of prayer.
Because of alarmist teaching and false predictions, many have shied away from messages on the end of the age. However, the clear testimony of the New Testament is that the believers are to be motivated to live righteously in light of the impending return of the Lord (Rom 13:11-13, Eph 5:14-16). The study of the end of the age not only gives believers urgency to live righteously now, it also gives them perspective that goes beyond this life. Paul said if we only hope in Christ for this life we are to be pitied above all men (1 Cor 15:19). Eschatology, then, is an incredibly helpful message that produces perspective and urgency in the heart of believers.
In addition to having a view to the end of the age and the age to come, it’s critical that our faith is engaged in seeing breakthrough now. David said he would have given up unless he believed He would see God’s goodness manifest in this age (Psalm 27:13). The vision for breakthrough adds an immediacy to our faith. There is a fullness of grace, revelation and power available to us now. We must recognize there is always more available. The vision of seeing God’s kingdom manifest in authority now, producing mass harvest, causes our hearts to have stamina to contend in prayer for the long haul.
4. Fasted Lifestyle
The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus main teaching on the values of the Kingdom. It’s where we get the concept of living the fasted lifestyle. If we encourage others to embrace Jesus’ value system, it will aid us in establishing a culture of prayer. The Sermon on the Mount calls believers to embrace a lifestyle that resists immediate gratification in exchange for faithfulness in righteousness over time. This requires restraint in many areas, thus – the fasted lifestyle. As believers get the message of the fasted lifestyle they experience the manifold grace of God. His grace empowering our hearts, keeping us free from carnal entanglements, is critical to developing a culture of prayer.
The message of justice adds intensity and vision for intercession. I’m going with the broadest definition of justice which includes, ministry to the lost, the poor, the orphan, widow & the oppressed. Justice sets our heart on seeing all the wrong things made right. Nothing fuels intercession quite like the recognition of God’s desires concerning the great needs that exist in the earth. When we touch the truth of who He is as the Just one, our desires to see justice established mushroom. Partnering with Him in intercession and becoming available to be the answer to our own prayers, spurs us to continue to pray.
When taken altogether these messages can have a powerful impact in transforming the culture of your ministry. Start with the intimacy message and allow the Lord to build from there. There’s no substitute for having a heart alive in love as the foundation for developing prayer culture. Once intimacy is firmly rooted in the culture add the other components. Continually proclaim from the lenses of one of these messages and you will develop a culture that breeds prayer and worship as a culture.
What other messages have you heard that have helped you to live a lifestyle of prayer and fasting?