We view Covenant Membership as a commitment between Christians to care for one another, do life together, and unite under a particular church leadership. In our Covenant Membership course, we spend one whole session considering 8 expectations that we have for our members. This is part one in an eight part series that will look at each of these expectations individually. Click here for more information on what we believe about Covenant Membership.
I will learn and practice the discipline of corporate and private prayer.
The church of God is a praying church.
As Restore has grown from an idea to a church plant to a stabilizing church, the recognition of our need to be a praying people has grown right along with it. Believing that prayer was important in theory gave way to believing prayer was important in practice; there have been and continue to be moments where all we have are our desperate prayers.
The fact that we do pray is an admission of our own need. It, in itself, is a repentant act. It's an act of coming before God and thanking him for his grace, appealing to him for his mercy, asking him for his power, looking towards him for direction, and any other number of things that we bring before him. It begins, however, when we understand that we are not only powerless to save ourselves, but are actually quite powerless to accomplish anything in this life. Proud people, or self-righteous people, don't pray. They may look like they are praying, but it is the type of prayer that goes unheard. Only the desperate man, fully aware of his lack of ability and great need for mercy, is the one who is heard and that God responds to.
The early church were a people of prayer because they recognized that great need almost immediately. When Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit, they understood "waiting" to mean "praying with anticipation". Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit; now they just had to wait and pray in full confidence that he would do what he said he would do. Even upon the receipt of the promised gift, the church continued to pray with abandon. They were devoted to it. They knew that it was their lifeline to the power that God had promised; it was their connection with the master. They couldn't imagine the Christian life without prayer.
They prayed corporately and they prayed privately. They prayed for themselves and they prayed for each other. They prayed out of gratitude and out of fear; they prayed for the apostles release from prison and they prayed for boldness to speak the truth of the Gospel even when they knew it would get them arrested.
If Covenant Membership really is doing life together in such a way that we continue to grow in Christ-likeness and reflect the beauty and the glory of God, it is going to require that we pray for one another. The only way that transformation in our lives is possible, whether in a singular instance or over the long-haul, is if God does it. That's why we pray for ourselves, that's why we pray for the church, that's why we pray for the world. Not just in theory, but in practice. Not just belief, but anticipation: God really will do what he has promised to do.