Learning to Pray

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  • April 06, 2009

We’ve been on the ground in Philadelphia for almost eight months now. During these eight months, anytime I feel like we’re hitting a stride and I’m about to kick my feet up, God smacks me with something. Something in my heart is thrown into a small panic and I’m desperate again for Him to lead us cause otherwise this whole church planting thing is going to fall apart.

So, the last week or so has been another one of these. We’re ending a study on the book of 1 Timothy. We’ve had a preview service. And now, I’m getting ready to figure out what happens next. And something in me has been prodding me towards prayer.

So I decided to meet with a local church planter who is further down the road than me. I remembered how he told me that his launch team gathered for months to do nothing but pray. So I met with him, notebook in my hand, ready to learn the “five steps” or whatever to making prayer more central at Seven Mile Road. He began by asking me what prayer looked like in my life. I almost wanted to correct him; remind him that I didn’t ask to meet to talk about my life – I asked to meet to talk about prayer at 7MR. But over the conversation, I was honest. I told him that I pray. I really do – but prayer is much more a peripheral part of my life than a central one. I’ve read dozens of books on church planting now. I know the steps that a church planter needs to take to get this thing off the ground. And so I pray to ask the Lord to bless the steps I’m going to take. It hasn’t really dawned on me to ask the Lord what my steps should be. I’m not discounting the wisdom to be gained from books on church planting, or the wisdom of those who have gone before me. I’m big on that. But I don’t know that I’ve been open to what God may want to do at 7MR specifically. What if He wants us to go in a direction that’s not in my current playbook?

This whole “following the lead of the Spirit” is mysterious to me. Anyway, I’m learning and I invited our team to jump in with me. Yesterday, I shared my heart and where I was at with our team. They were great.  We spoke honestly of not being desperate in prayer. I mean when you meet in a building you barely pay for, when you have a website you didn’t drop a dime for, when you have signs made for you for free, it’s easy not to be desperate. God has dropped one gift on us after another, and we haven’t even been earnest in our thanksgiving. In some ways, we’ve been trying to do the spiritual work of church planting in the power of the flesh. We pray. We pray every Thursday night – but we confessed that prayer is much more a peripheral part of the life of our community than a central one. So yesterday was spent in corporate prayer. We repented together and asked the Lord to teach us together to pray. I feel like we got a glimpse of Spirit-led, earnest, corporate prayer. Much to learn and mature. God help us.

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road.

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