The Local Vineyard Church Podcast

Prayer That Makes a Difference

August 27, 2023 The Local
The Local Vineyard Church Podcast
Prayer That Makes a Difference
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever pondered the big questions in life and wished for a safe space to explore your thoughts? Introducing Alpha, a globally recognized program born out of this very need. Open to believers and skeptics alike, Alpha invites everyone to a space where they can explore their faith freely and on their own terms. Our church too is gearing up for our fall small group semester, focusing our energy and efforts on Alpha. 

Prayer, a powerful tool often shrouded in mystery, is discussed in depth as we explore its impact on our lives, church, and the world. We will also reflect on the role of the church in a rapidly changing world and whether creating a 'safe bubble' for our children is a wise choice. The discussion will bring to light the importance of praying boldly for those around us and how we can use our faith to help others. We invite you to join us on this transformative journey of faith, exploration, and outreach.

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Speaker 1:

When I was 16 years old, I started a youth internship program at my local church in Virginia Beach, virginia. Now my brother and I we both did the internship together, and this internship was a way, a year-long commitment that taught students how to read the Bible, how to create a devotional life, how to serve the church and how to be like Jesus at home. And now the best part for my brother Isaiah and I was that our church was walking distance from where we lived, and so we started to raggily walk to church. Even on days where there weren't youth nights. We would just show up at the church, we would serve at the food pantry, often with our mom, and we would come and help clean the church, do yard work for the church. We would come on a Friday and set up the auditorium for the church's weekend service. We fell in love with church and the community and the purpose that it gave us. Now, what I didn't know as a 16-year-old kid was that five years prior to me coming to the church and being involved in the youth program and because of that youth program I found my purpose in life to do vocational ministry what I didn't know before I ever stepped foot in that building was that two people got a nudge from the Holy Spirit pastors, andy and Sharon Mead, that they were to build a youth program that would reach youth in their community. And then, before my life was changed because of the local church and the local church introducing me to an authentic relationship with Jesus, two people had to say yes to Jesus. Two people had to say yes to Jesus and when they said yes to Jesus, to create a youth program that would not play as a daycare for the PKs come on, I'd not just be selling that the leaders kids got to go into but a youth program that would reach students and families, for families for people that were far from God and families looking for an authentic relationship with Jesus. It came with a risk. It came with a risk. They invested money and time and resources and even created an entire space, an entire youth area, just for youth. It came with a risk and the risk was well, what if youth don't show up? What if they don't show up? What if we waste money? What if people come in and actually cause us harm to our church community? But what they did was they made a room at the table for young people to experience the goodness of God and have a growing and authentic relationship with Jesus. And when they said yes to Jesus, little did they know. Because of their yes, one day my brother and I will come and experience Jesus, meet lifelong friends, grow up at the church, meet our spouses at the church, come on. And then here's the crazy part We'll go out and be church planters ourselves. Why do I tell that story? Because, as a church, as a local church, our hope is to see everyday people learn how to become Jesus followers, which means we have to make room at the table for people to find faith, to explore faith in a judgmental, free and safe place. Did you guys know that people are more skeptical of the church than ever before, that people do not think church is a safe place to ask the big questions in life? So we have to come against that. We have to come against that. The local church because this is what I know, the local church mobilized is the hope of the world. It's the hope of the world. So, as a church, we want to help everyday people who are wrestling with some of life's big questions about life. So insert alpha Now. If you've been with us over the summer, you've probably heard us mention alpha here and there, sprinkling in throughout our messages. Now you see the signage in the lobby and you may be asking Jacob, what the heck is alpha? Is it the alpha dog class? Woof, woof, where are my dogs at? Rest in peace. Dmx. Okay, you know why are we doing. Alpha Is alpha for me? Okay, here you go. What is alpha? I want to share a little bit about alpha. Alpha was actually started in England. That was my cup of tea, okay, and basically this group of people discovered that, hey, people really don't want to go to church anymore. People are having a hard time. It's hard to convince anyone to go to church. It's getting harder and harder to invite people to church and people are more skeptical about church. They don't trust church. They feel like church is in a safe place to ask the big questions of life. Sounds familiar. And so these people got together and they formed a group and at first the group was geared towards Christians who were just people asking foundational questions about faith. But over time they begin to see people who had life questions. The big questions about life start to come in. People who were searching for answers started to come. And what Alpha did. It provided a safe place for people to explore their faith. So now, millions of people that was over 20 years ago now millions of people all around the world have participated in Alpha. People from all backgrounds, walks of life have sat around a table, and this is the best part about Alpha you sit around a table and you eat good food. Come on, you eat good food and then you start asking questions Good questions, judgment free zone, questions about life, the Bible and Jesus, and millions of lives have been changed because of it. So, as a church, we feel commissioned by Jesus, because of the Great Commission, to go and make disciples. We feel commissioned to create safe places for people in our community, people who are your friends, your family members, your coworkers, your neighbors. To create safe places for people to ask the big questions of life, what they don't have to be right or wrong, or believe what we believe, or think what we think, or vote the way other people vote, but a safe place to ask questions. And so what we want to do, we're going to focus all of our energy and effort during our fall small group semester on Alpha, and we want to invite the entire church to be a part of it. We want to invite them to. That means the seasoned believer, the someone new to faith, the skeptic. We want to invite you all and we will meet Wednesday nights at 6pm at the Smoketree Community Pool Clubhouse. And the reason why we did that at the clubhouse is because, like I said like three or four times already, people are skeptical of church, even church out of school. They're really skeptical of church out of school because their roaches here I'm joking, I'm not joking they are here. Last week our church attendance was a thousand. It was about 96 adults and the rest were roaches. It was crazy. I was like dang God's moving, you know. But then Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones came. They were aliens. Wow, we are the men in black. Okay, never mind. But at Alpha we will have free childcare Come on for infants to fifth grade, and we will have youth activities. However, youth middle school and high school are welcome to join the conversation as well. They're welcome to join. And each alpha will have good food Not that pasta salad you get from food lying, too much mayonnaise, not that but good food and it will be a place to explore faith. Now here's a fun part about Alpha. Alpha is set up to fail. What do I mean by that? What do I mean by that? At Alpha we will have table leaders. So we'll be broken up in groups. So if you are a part of the women's group last semester, the men's group I encourage your group to be a part of Alpha and you can sit together at your table so you'll have a table leader. And what we have been coaching our table leaders to do is you check at the door your ability to convince anyone to follow Jesus. You check at the door the right words to persuade people to follow Jesus Are. You check at the door your strong belief that you got to make people believe what you believe. You leave all that at the door and you give space for people at the table to ask questions so that people, on their terms, can make a decision and say yes to Jesus or no. I'm not into that. That's risky. That's risky. That's hard. What I discovered after I was done being a youth pastor I was a youth pastor for a long time down in Virginia Beach was I was very good at convincing people that they needed to believe what I believe. If I could be transparent with you, I was very good at it, but I wasn't very good at showing people how to follow Jesus for themselves, and so a lot of the people who are part of our youth group, they didn't know how to follow Jesus on their own terms, and so when they left high school, what happened to them? They were met with reality, they were met with life, and they didn't know how to navigate it. So our heart here at LVC is to help everyday people learn, and that word learn is a key word there, because we're not here to convince you, manipulate you, force you, persuade you to follow Jesus. We want to provide tools so that you, on your terms and your background, with your ups and downs, with your life story, can make a decision and say yes to Jesus or no. This isn't for me. That's our conviction. That's our conviction. We give people the freedom to choose. This is what's happening. That's what we're about to do. It's starting September 13th. Like Daniel mentioned earlier, alpha is going to start. It's going to be an all church small group type thing. I am hoping, I am praying that we will no joke have 100% participation from our church. That's my big prayer, that's my audacious prayer. With that being said up front, I want to acknowledge that what we're doing with Alpha it's not about our church, it's not just about growing our church, it's about expanding and multiplying God's kingdom. We want to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of people and help people make decisions. So we know that something like that is only going to happen through prayer. It's going to happen through prayer. So prayer matters. So what I want to talk about is I want to share with us for the next 20 minutes. Is this why prayer matters? You may be in here today. You're like man. I don't know about that prayer thing, jacob. I don't think that works for me. I may work for other people, but I don't know if it works for me. But I want you to know today that your prayers matter and your prayers make a difference. So I'm going to break this down for you. I kind of want us all to become like the classic grandma who prays. Come on, everyone had a praying grandma or granddad or something at one point. I know my, my, my, my grandma always prayed, that me and my family will find a church home and guess what we did? We did and it changed the trajectory of our lives. God answered her prayers. Just recently I had a friend who was working night shifts and because of life circumstances she needed to go to a to a normal working working day shift. But she was very hot. She's very high up in the company, she wanted to be a good team player, so she didn't really want to like ask for that yet. So I told her I will pray for you. I'll pray for you that that happens. And no, I can't make this up. The next week she didn't even mention it to any of her supervisors and next week they came to her and changed the schedule for her to work in the daytime. Was it my prayers? Maybe it could have been, I don't know. But here's another story about prayer I want to share with you. Our youngest son, hayden, has some developmental delays and he hasn't been able to walk. Now he's almost two and so that's pretty. That's pretty far in there. So nothing wrong with his bones, he's got x-rays and things like that. But we as a family laid hands on his legs Kingsley, our five-year-old daughter, james and our two-year-old son. We laid hands on and prayed for him and, no joke, the next day he began to walk. He started to walk. You know it was like that. I mean prayer matters, and maybe you're not sure that prayer matters. Maybe you're not sure that prayer changes things, and that's okay, I get it. I think I would have been in the same boat two years ago. I think I would have been. I'm kind of skeptical about it, but what I want to do is demystify prayer and address some faulty ideas that we have about prayer. Okay, so the first faulty idea about prayer is this Prayer is our way of working on God. Prayer is our way of working on God. Anyone, anyone know this. All right, god, I need you. I need you to fix this. I need you to fix my kid before I uppercut him. God, I need you to fix my marriage. Give me a job. Give me a six-figure job. Come on, help the Washington commanders win a Super Bowl. That's a big prayer. And God, if you do these things, god, if you do these things, then I promise I will change God. You be different than I'll be different. We all said that prayer. We've all said that prayer. The other faulty idea about prayer is this Prayer is God's way of just working on us. Prayer is God's way of just working on us. So a lot of people think prayer works for them and is good for them. But they don't think prayer works out there. They don't think they can pray for a life circumstance or a tough spot, or for our nation or our world, and it does anything. They don't think prayer makes a lot of difference out there. It may make me feel good to pray, but it doesn't really change much on what's going out. Prayer doesn't change circumstances or situations. Now the problem is this. The problem is both of these ideas have some partial truth to it. Both of these ideas have some partial truth in this. Now, what we see in the Bible is, when people pray, god changes people. God changes circumstances, and here's the idea I want you to get God changes, god even changes. Did you know that in the Bible, when people pray, god changed, god changed. Now, the character of God never changes. The God's character doesn't change. God's the same yesterday, today and forever more. The character of God doesn't change. But prayer can change God's mind. But God's mind can change. God moves into action when people pray. So what prayer actually is is this Prayer is God's way of working in us, with us and through us. Let me say that one more time Prayer is actually God's way of working in us, with us and through us. That's what prayer is. Prayer is coming alongside God and saying God, will you work in me, will you work with me and will you work through me? That's what prayer does. So I want to look at three kinds of prayers that I think we should pray regularly and I would say, if you do, you will see some significant life change in your life. First one is this we want prayers for the church, prayers for ourselves and prayers that we should pray for others. I've never heard any story about prayer before I jump into those. The other morning, jameson, our two-year-old, woke up early and he joined Aaron in her quiet time. And I was in the living room working and I hear Aaron inviting Jameson to pray with her. And Aaron's like okay, jameson, now time to pray for Kingsley's first day of school. And Jameson's like no, pray for me, mommy. And he's like, no, we should pray for Kingsley. And he's like, okay, mom, I'll pray for myself. And he's like holy spirit, bless me and bless Spider-Man, amen. So Spider-Man was blessed that day. It was good, so. But prayer works. Here you go. But seriously, the first thing how can we pray for the church? How can we pray for our church. Jesus instructs us like this. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and hopeless, like sheep without a shepherd. I want you to keep that word in your head Keep without a shepherd. Then he said to the disciples the harvest is printiful, but the workers are few. I asked pray the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest filled. Now, how is it that God moves in the lives of people? Is it that God just? Is it that we just sit back and we watch God move? Is that how prayer works? Like we say, hey, god, give me a job, hey, six figures on limited vacation, and we just sit back and watch. Is that what it is, or is it? Or is it we go out and God sits back and watch. God, aren't I doing good enough? Aren't I working hard enough for you, god? Are you impressed? Are you happy with me? Now, god, like, did I do enough? Is that what it is, or is it a relationship? Is it a partnership? That's what Jesus teaches us. Jesus gives us two different metaphors here. The first one is of sheep without a shepherd, and the sheep are beaten down by life. They're harassed, they're beaten up. And did you know that? The people all around us? And did you even know in your own personal life? Don't you feel beat up, sometimes by life? Don't you feel like like? Don't you feel like you're trying your best and even though you try your best, something else tries to sucker punch you? Did you know that there's people all around you? And you know these people who? Who? They just keep going from one bad decision to the next bad decision and they seem like they have no direction. Anxiety and fear overwhelms them and you may feel that about yourself. And they're like sheep without shepherd. And what Jesus is saying? Jesus is saying, hey, I'm the good shepherd and I need your help to bring those people to me so I can lead them into the life they truly want. It's a partnership. So the first prayer we need to pray as a church is this Lord, will you take LVC, will you take our church to lost sheep places? Will you take us to lost sheep Guys? I just got to be upfront with you. I got to be honest with you. I don't want to beat around the bushes, I don't want to lead you astray. Our heart at this church is to reach people who are far from God. We want to reach, and not just so, not just so we can have more butts in the chair and more bucks on our bank account. No, no, no. We want to reach people for Jesus because God is calling people back to him to have a relationship with him. Where we see in our generation, anxiety rates going through the roof, depression rates going through the roof, I know, and I hope you know, that we have God that wants to bring healing to people, freedom to people, restoration to people, break generational curses in the name of Jesus. So that's why we want to grow. It's not just for growing sake, but it's because people need to know this message. So let us first pray. God take our church to lost sheep places. When we first started our church, we did our very first startup party at Hardywood Brewery and West Creek okay, and we offered two free beers for anyone who came and wanted to hear about the church. That was kind of our plug and the thing that happened. That still bothers me today and I wish I was me today, back then. I don't know if you ever had things like that. You think back like only if I knew now what I knew back then, I would have handled the situation way different. That's how I feel about this one. What happened was we started, we did a Facebook marketing on that, and we started advertising, and what happened was a bunch of religious people. A bunch of religious people which I don't even know how they got on our page, because we strategically marketed towards people who didn't have Christian on their Facebook status, because you know, you're a real Christian if your Facebook status says you're a Christian and so they started to negatively comment about the event oh, you're a fake church, you're sinful, beer is bad. And then, when I saw these people, I started to say to myself I understand why people don't want to go to church, and that's the people that I go. And for me and for me, though, when we started the church, we wanted to reach people who normally wouldn't want to go to church, and so I said to myself logically, shouldn't we go to places where people who don't normally go to church go? Isn't that the best place to go? Like you know, should we just like throw a party and expect everyone to come to our party? Maybe I want to be like Owen Wilson I'm going to be a wedding crasher. Wow, I got some movie references today, but I remember being so mad and upset and honestly insecure about those Facebook thugs that's all they were. And I forgot the purpose on why we started the church. It was to provide a safe place for people to discover Jesus. That was why we started. And when all those comments from religious people came in, I said to myself I'm not going to bow down to that, we're going to keep moving. We did, and it was great Recently. Another story though recently, aaron and I had the opportunity to send our daughter to private Christian school. Nothing wrong with private Christian school at all. We may actually even do that later down the road. But the thing that hit us when we were meeting with the school, they said to us we love the bubble. We get to keep our kids in from the world. We love the bubble. And I thought to myself. I thought to myself, I processed that. I thought to myself wasn't Jesus the ultimate bubble popper Like? Didn't he go to excluded people groups, groups that the religious people said you can't be, you won't. You can sit out on the outside of the temple, but you better not bring your butt in? Didn't Jesus go to those people groups and pop those bubbles and invited all people to come and understand and worship God. So why should I insert myself and my kids back into a bubble? We got to go to law sheet places. We got to go to law sheet places because at the heart of it and I understand what she was trying to say, but at the heart of it for me and Aaron was we can't show through our kids. We can't show through them. It's our job to parent in a way that gets them ready for the world. It's our job. It's our job. So, jesus, so, and then I started thinking about this too Jesus, jesus hung out where lost people were. Jesus drank, drank, and the hater said he was a drunkard. But while people were hating, jesus was changing lives. Jesus was doing a great thing. And Jesus says this to the world they are hurt and they are in need of a shepherd. And then he says, also in the same story the world is also a harvest. You know what harvest means? It means the good food is there, it means it's ready for the picking, it's ready to collect it. And he says it's the church's job to be a harvester. Now, what does that mean? Here's a question I want you to think about. Here's a question I want you to think about how is God moving today? How is God moving in people's lives today? One interesting thing that we see now that the pandemic is over is one of the questions that people were asking during the pandemic and I think they're still asking now is this God, is this really it? Life, deity, him, her, whatever they believe is this really it? Is this really it? Is this all life is? And you can see this through people changing careers, work life balance has changed. Even Aaron and I, we were used to be people who were like first one in the office, last one out of the office, kind of people. But then, but there and COVID, we realized it's more to life than production and consumption. There's more to life than that and in our world is clearly aching for something more more than just money, more than just surface relationships, more than just student loan debt come on more than just social media likes. We see in our world that people are more spiritually open than ever before. They are asking is there a God out there and, if so, who is this God and how do I find it? Him or her, or whatever they're asking? People are asking is there anything beyond my own happiness and my own temporary pleasures? Is there anything beyond this? Is there any meaning and purpose to life? Like, what am I here for? Can I be forgiven? Can I be forgiven for the things I've done and the things that I've done that no one knows that I've done? And here's the thing. People are asking these questions, whether they're angry seekers, doubtful, no matter what I truly believe. The spirit of God is on people and God is working in them and working in their hearts. And here's the relief that we have. It's not up to us to help people ask the big questions of life. They're already asking, they're already asking them. We don't have to play the part of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's already at work. The question we must ask ourselves as a church are we providing safe places for people to ask those questions? Are we providing safe places for people to ask those questions out loud, in environments where they can be heard, and not preach that? So, while the world is searching, I hope we are praying. I hope we pray for people. Are we praying for people we see at work, in our neighborhood, in our social spots? Are we, as a church, as we pray for the church as you pray for local vineyard. Pray that we will be a safe place that you can invite people you love from all walks of life. So the first thing is this pray for invitation, pray for invitation. This is a practical prayer. I pray that you and I and us, that we will invite people to Alpha. I will actually even say this I think Alpha may be the best place to invite people, even the Sunday, even the Sunday, I think, inviting people there. It's a perfect place for people who have questions about life and about faith, and my encouragement is that we would invite at least one person. Never invite at least one person. So we need to pray for that second. So pray for invitation. Secondly, pray for yourself, and, bethany, you can place something up here for me. Pray for yourself. I got hit on this for a second. I thought I'd get my fresh lemon water. Come on, pray for yourself. I think people have a hard time praying for themselves. I think people have a hard time praying for themselves. I think our default, rather than praying for ourselves, is to worry about ourselves. I want you to come with me here for a second. Think about some of your biggest anxieties. Think about some of your biggest fears. Think about those uncontrollables in your life. We all have them, don't we? We all have uncontrollable things that we can't handle. We can't change them or change her or change him. There's this thing, there's anxieties, and often our default is I'm scared, worried and concerned. I worry about that, I'm worrying about that. I worry about that. I'm putting my energy into worry. I'm putting my energy into anxiety, into fear, and I get that. I understand that. But what if we had time to worry about it? What if we have time to pray about it? Like, come on, go with me here, go with me here. The moment that thing pops in your head that you're worried about, that loved one of yours, your kid, yeah, yeah, your kid. What if we're just worrying about it? God, I pray, I pray Right now. You bless them, protect them, your career, god, help me, help me, help me. See, guys, I got to say something because prayer is when God works in us. So some of your biggest worries come on. I want you to get this. Listen to me here. Some of the biggest worries you have in your life right now is God working in you and saying hey, I'm trying to help you with that, I'm trying to get in your boat on that, because prayer is God working in us and then God works with us. Okay, come on. Come on, working with us may mean a practical application. Hey, I'm stressed about my diet. I got to change the way I eat. I'm going to pick on something simple. I got to change the way I eat. God, can you help me? Love cauliflower. You're like God. I love it if it has a whole bunch of ranch and God's like that defeats the purpose. But seriously, god, help me with this. Help me with this. You're with me, you're working in me, you're working with me. And then, come on, I'm going to pick on diet again, just because it's easy. It's easy Once you start, god starts working in you, giving you a heart to be healthy, and he starts working with you. You start doing it. Then your life begins to change Right. You start to find freedom and break through. You're like dang, I feel good, I feel healthy. Then God starts to work through you and you start to help someone else. Come on, god, I just want to be practical today. I want to be it's not, it's not private or it's not vain to pray for yourself, because the things you worry about the most is the area in which God wants the most from you. God is working in you and through you and with you. So my prayer for you, church, is that you will pray with boldness. That you will pray with boldness, that you will not allow fear and anxiety to be the boldest voice in your head, that you will allow the spirit of God to work in you and work with you and work through you and bring you out the place that you don't want to be, so he can bring you to the place that he designed for you to be. So we're going to pray for boldness. We're going to pray for boldness. You want to know I just said this but you want to know the people who I admire the most. I admire people who can't eat healthy, and not just people who eat healthy, people who actually like it. They be doing the intermittent fasting. They eat like 20 minutes a day, like. How you do that, I don't know about you. I love healthy food. I feel better when I eat healthy food, but my natural state is pizza, chicken, wings and beer wine if I'm feeling fancy. But when I eat healthy, even though it's not natural for me, I can feel it. In the same way, I admire people who can easily share their faith. You ever see those people who can, like they can share their faith in the most authentic, not weird, natural way. Down in Virginia Beach there was this church. I think they purposely recruited the creepiest people ever to hand out their flyers. Like you would be in town center in Virginia Beach and you'll walk out of Chipotle and then you'll see these people like rise from the ground and they had. They always had ripped up clothes and they always I'm not trying to be judgmental, but I'm judging and they always had and they smell bad and all their flyers had. They had like word art on it from Microsoft Word and then you'll be like, hide your kids, they coming for you. It was bad, they didn't help it. They didn't help the case of inviting people to church. But then you got people like my mom, for example. My mom, if you ever met my mom, do yourself a favor and meet her. She's a nice lady but she constantly is telling people about church. She's invited more people to church than I have, from the bartender come on, from a random person who's singing karaoke. She invited this person, not only the church, but she invited her to sing on the worship team. She invited my parents, both invited almost every dental student at VCU. My dad just told me this story the other day. They went down to VCU for dental, for some dental whatever stuff, the stuff with your teeth and three or four months ago, and he in his dentist the student he invited her to church showed her how to use the, how to log on to the church's YouTube and watch the videos, which, hey, that is a great way to invite people to church, just to let you know, because people will want to watch. They want to see what it's like before they come in. So if you know people thinking about church, share the YouTube. That's why we work so hard on getting that up for everyone. But then so he did that three months later. So last week he goes back for cleaning and then he gets the same lady and she says, oh, thank you so much for sharing that. Me and my boyfriend have been watching the YouTube videos almost every week. Isn't that awesome? Isn't that a great story? Because some people I mean it is so good at it, but for me I'm not that great at it. I'm going to be honest with it. I'm not that great at inviting people to church or sharing my faith. I'm not as good as I think I would like to be, because my natural state is I kind of get afraid, I get kind of embarrassed oh what would they think or I get doubtful. You know, maybe that's just me Fear and embarrassment and doubt. But what does the Bible say? Check this out. I'm out of the clothes pretty soon. When the church was under great pressure and their Google ads weren't working, this says this in Acts 4. Now, lord, consider these threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. After they prayed, the place they were meeting was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. And I just got to say it. I know I'm kind of talking about inviting people to church and stuff, but I just got to say something. I got to say something to people you got to start speaking the word of God boldly over your life. Stop letting anxiety be the most bold thing that's spoken over your life. Stop letting that problem be the most bold thing spoken over your life. Say God. You know the threats, you know the issues, you know the doubts, you know the anxieties. You know the fears I'm facing. You know my current life problems. God, give me the words to speak life over this. I refuse to accept death one more second longer. When the God who never sinned, who never lied, who lived the life I couldn't died the death I deserved, went to the cross For me, rose again from the grave and I now have access to him. And since that God's Holy Spirit is in me, since the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead is in me, I'm going to tap into that boldness. I'm going to tap into that boldness for my family, for my marriage, for my dreams, for my hopes, and I refuse. I refuse to allow death to get the loudest voice in my life. I'm going to speak with boldness. I hope that was bold enough. Secondly, pray for opportunity. We pray that God opens the door Colossians 4 says this and pray for us too, that God may open the door for our message. We cannot force open the door to someone's heart. If you're in here and you're a Jesus follower, you know you didn't follow Jesus because someone made you, forced you to kind of like the video we watched at the beginning. But you had to open your heart to God by yourself, on your terms, and that's what we want to do. The third thing pray for the right words. The apostle Paul again says pray for me, pray also for me that whenever I speak, words may be given to me. I love this because Paul is an icon of the faith. The reason why the church survived the infancy stage was because of Paul. And here's the icon of the faith, praying God, give me the right words to say to people. See, paul didn't have a formula in how to share the gospel. He didn't have a three-point message on how to do it. He knew that he needed to pray for the right words because every person is different and they have different needs and concerns and hurts and baggage. So Paul didn't speak blanket statements over things. He had an individual relationship with people. Love them. That's what we want to do. That's what we want to do. I'm gonna close. Last thing is this we got to pray for others. Pray for us. We pray for our church, pray for yourself and then pray for others. And here's the thing there's a power in praying for people. The funny thing is I indirectly prayed for my wife, erin's sister, prayed daily for her sister, for Erin to give her life to Jesus and during that time I said, yeah, I'll pray for her too, which is so. For a long time I prayed every day for Erin. Before I was romantically attracted to her. I think I always liked her. That made me feel my prayers a little bit more. Heal the Lord, heal her, bring her to the light, you know. Anyways, so over the course of a few years it took some work for Erin. That was funny. She gave her life to Jesus at the beginning of her second year at George Mason University and then she did become my wife at the end of her last year at George Mason University. Yeah, come on, prayer works, baby. But seriously, seriously. Maybe there's a loved one, a child, a friend, a parent, someone, you know, man, they're just hurt. They're hurt, they're harassed. They're like sheep without a shepherd. They need help and we can't open their hearts, but we can labor and pray for them. We can labor and pray for them. And you want to know what we do. When we pray for people, we pray for God's best in them. That's what we do. We pray for other people, praying for God's best in them. So that's what I want to do right now. You guys also got an index card when you walked in. And what I want to do. I'm going to end the message like this. I want to end the message like this. I want us to ask the Holy Spirit just, you know, right now, maybe you're not a religious person, that's okay. Maybe you know. Just think of some people that you know and I want you to write down three people that you want to be praying for daily, and this is what I want us to do. I want you to write down these three people. You can do it right now. You can think about it. If you're someone who needs a process thing, you may know exactly who you're praying for. If it's your spouse, you just do it like this Number three people that you want to pray for, predominantly, three people that you would want to invite to Alpha, who are exploring. They need some help, they're searching, and I want you to write in. And then what I wanted to do for the next 21 days. After you write those people down, I want all of us and our phones to put a reminder at 1102 to pray for them. Why 1102? Because Jesus says this in Luke 11, 22. He says father, reveal who you are. Set the world right. I want, I want us to be praying for people that God will reveal who he is to them, that he would set their world right, that they will find purpose and hope. Okay, so let's pray. God, jesus, holy Spirit, thank you for your love, thank you for your goodness. And God, we do pray, bold prayers, bold prayers over our lives. We want to speak louder than our anxieties. God, we want to partner with you, we want you to work in us, with us and through us. So, jesus, come move. And God, as a church, we do pray that we would be a church that goes to lost sheep places and that we would just meet people where they are Not expecting people to clean up their mess, but, like you, jesus, meeting them right where they were In their mess and all Loving them. Help us be that kind of church. Lord and God, we do pray for Alpha, lord, that we see people come to know you. People come to ask the big questions of life, find relief, hope and healing. If you're in here today and you don't know this Jesus I'm talking about, maybe you did. You grew up in church but life kind of got you. If you want to make a decision to trust Jesus with your life. I just want to pray with you, right where you are, not going to call you up or have you come up for our stand up, nothing like that, just right where you are. If you want to make a decision to trust Jesus with your life, or trust Jesus with your life again, pray this prayer with me. Just say, jesus, forgive me for my mistakes, make me new. Today. I trust you with my life Today. I follow you In Jesus name. Amen, amen. Let's give God some praise in here today.

The Power of the Local Church
The Concept of Alpha
Demystifying Prayer
Church's Role in a Changing World
Praying With Boldness and Helping Others
Prayer and Outreach for Alpha