Last June, the Council of Delegates, acting in lieu of synod, approved a new denominational ministry plan called Our Journey 2025. This plan was built based on conversations with leaders and members of myriad Christian Reformed congregations across North America. In these conversations, four key priorities—which we are calling “milestones”—rose to the surface no matter what country, culture, age demographics, or gender the people represented.
As a denomination, we truly feel that God has called us to:
- Cultivate practices of prayer and other spiritual disciplines, transforming our lives and communities by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Listen to the voices of every generation, shaping us for ministry together.
- Grow in diversity and unity by seeking justice, reconciliation, and welcome, sharing our faith as we build relationships with and honor the cultures of our neighbors and newcomers.
- Share the gospel, live it missionally, and plant new churches in our neighborhoods as we discover how to connect with our local and global ministry contexts.
Over the next few months, the “Our Shared Ministry” section of The Banner will explore each of these four milestones a bit more in depth, starting with the desire to cultivate practices of prayer and other spiritual disciplines.
It is not surprising that this desire was so universally felt across our denomination. We live in times that seem unspiritual and undisciplined in so many ways. We know that we are called to pray continuously (1 Thess. 5:17), yet our lives are so busy that prayer often takes a back seat. Many of us pray episodically at best.
This is exactly why your collective advice, reflected in Our Journey 2025, talks about the need to return to spiritual disciplines. In order to have a robust prayer life, we must have the discipline to work at it.
For me, knowing that God’s love pervades every environment, is present with me in every situation, and is working to bring about his kingdom on earth is not only comforting but motivating.
Not only that, but God is my Father who wants to spend time with me. Though I may not speak to him in prayer continually, he is still present and only a word away.
The same is true not only for me personally but for us collectively as a denomination. As congregations within the denomination, as communities, regions, and nations within the family of God, we can and should come to our Father with our concerns, whether they be about COVID-19, the economy, race relations, or other issues.
So let’s commit to building some discipline into our prayer and spiritual lives this year. Here are a few quick suggestions. First, let’s add prayer time to our schedules, carving out specific times to come to our Father no matter what else may be seeking to make use of our time. Second, let’s approach prayer in a way that focuses on God first, seeking to build our relationship with God and listen to what God wishes to tell us. Third, let’s create prayer lists that focus on others but aren’t restricted just to those in need or those we love. We also need to pray for those most unlike ourselves (see Matt. 5:44).
As we do, I believe we will improve in our relationships with God and each other. What’s more, I trust that when we are disciplined in coming to God with our prayers, God will speak to us about God’s desires for us individually and as a church.