05-21-17 @North Heartland: Of Baptism & Prayer
Good soggy morning dear family and friends of North Heartland!
As you know, loyal readers, as part of our "One-Month Prayer Experiment" I have challenged everyone to commit to praying for at least five minutes a day through next Saturday May 27th. And in the series associated with that little project, we used the basic requests that Jesus outlined in what we call "The Lord's Prayer" to guide us in developing our own list of prayer requests ... which meant it only made sense that I would put on my list a request regarding the baptism which was scheduled for last Sunday.
So, I did. I decided that I would ask for a specific number of people to respond to the invitation and, specifically, for a number higher than what typically happens in our spring baptisms (we do two per year). In previous years, that number is about 20, so I thought that asking for 30 would be a great "test."
I'll confess that after the first service, I was a little disappointed as there were only five who were baptized: four who had signed up in advance and one who responded on the spot. I thought, "well, OK, if we have twice that amount in the second service, it will be 15 total instead of 30."
Now, for 15 men, women and high-and-middle school students to be baptized is ALWAYS a great thing and nothing to make light of. But this time, there was something more associated with it: does prayer make a difference? Especially in something so overtly "spiritual" and directly in line with Jesus' lead-off request: "Father, may Your Name be honored and revered and may 'up there' come 'down here'" (which would obviously include people saying "yes" to His offer of salvation and making a profession of faith by being baptized!)
So, I lowered my expectations going into the second service ... only to be shocked as 24 people entered the waters of our baptismal pool! We ended up singing all of the worship songs TWICE and began the first one for a THIRD time until the last person had been baptized. The service didn't end until 12:16!
Of course, the joke among the staff this week was "looks like Rick should have prayed a little harder: then we would have had one more - 30 instead of 29." My thought was "Ok, maybe. But I'd like to know who that 30th person was who should have said 'yes' to the invitation but didn't!" :)
In any case, it was a great day, a great victory for the Lord and a great affirmation of Jesus' challenge to His followers to "always pray and never give up."
Of course, there is still a little over a week remaining in the prayer experiment ... and I have several other requests on my list ... so I will keep praying and I hope you will, too.
In fact, just a reminder that next Sunday, May 28th, we'll be devoting the message time-slot in the service to stories of everyone's journey in prayer over this past month. We'll have an open-mic time and invite anyone present to answer one or more of the following questions:
- What prayer(s) has God answered over the past month?
- How has praying more consistently changed you?
- What are you praying about that has not yet been answered? (so that others will be able to pray with you)
I am very much looking forward to this service as I have already had more than a few people tell me how much impact the prayer series and experiment has had on them. Now, if they (and others) will take the risk of telling their stories ... we'll have some incredible services!
Of course, before we get to THAT particular Sunday, we still have THIS Sunday which is ALSO going to be an outstanding time to gather together to worship, learn and also observe a time of communion.
I hope you will be present for one of our services and, if you are out of town (as I always say), be sure to go to church SOMEWHERE. What an amazing gift we have as Christians to freely gather to worship while so many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world do so at the risk of their very lives! Let's not take it for granted, folks.
Have a great rest of your Friday!