How Do We Pray?
Reflections on prayer in a season of discernment
November 29, 2021
In this season of discernment as the Covenant Church elects new denominational and regional leaders, the church is gathering each week to fast and pray. Join us for a Covenant Day of Prayer on December 6 on Zoom. Register Here >>
Why I Pray (with Others)
By Nicole Bullock
I believe prayer with community is the most powerful prayer experience we can have. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20, NKJV). There is something special about corporate prayer, where we’re able to sense the tangible presence of God.
That doesn’t diminish praying alone with God. All prayer is powerful. Yet the witness of the Spirit among the community of believers finds strength when we collectively turn our hearts and concerns to the Father, trusting that he hears us and is prepared to answer our pleas.
Scripture outlines the potential impact of corporate prayer. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Corporate prayer allows us to present the energy and enthusiasm of a unified voice that longs to see the movement of God. The momentum created in corporate prayer isn’t one we can grasp on our own. Through corporate prayer, miracles, signs, and wonders are manifested and create an atmosphere of greater wonder and awe in the God who has met his people.
Communal prayer produces communal blessing. It is one thing to stand alone blessed; it is something else when we have the joy and affirmation of others to celebrate the person and presence of God with us. Corporate prayer is where God comprises his desire to move among us along with the cries of his beloved creation.
We know God wants to answer our prayers. He wants to bring revelation and revival to his beloved people. He wants to reassure us that he is with us and has great plans concerning us. And when it might potentially be farfetched for us to believe individually, we develop greater confidence and reassurance as we unite with others to see the wonderful things God has in store for us.
Finally, we as believers are built up and unified in the faith together when we gather to pray. As we pray together, we exalt our love and concern for others and the mission of God. Corporate prayer brings not only intimacy with Jesus but also with one another. Let us continue to do the great work of crying out and caring for one another in prayer together.
Nicole Bullock is lead pastor, along with her husband, Geoff, of Blue Oak Church based in the Twin Cities.
Why I Fast
By Benjamin Kerns
Almost two years of Covid have fostered some bad habits in me. In the midst of personal, emotional, and professional stress, I have been seeking to care for and serve the people in my congregation, who are under the same stresses. This means I need to lock down my own personal garbage.
So, in order to cope with that stress, I have resorted to two strategies—involving food and TikTok. When I feel under pressure, when my discomfort gets too high, I pull the ejection handle and eat some sodium-rich food or scroll through social media to distract myself.
But I have noticed that these seemingly simple coping mechanisms have actually built a film around my heart. My natural, soft and squishy center, my deep love for Jesus and the church—the thing that has motivated most of my career—has become harder to connect with.
Like sodium bleaching out our tastebuds or social media laying down the dopamine hits, our taste for spiritual things can be covered over by more immediate and fleshly solutions.
Yet God has given us better tools. Our tastebuds can change and be redeemed. When people adjust their diets and embrace plans like the Whole 30, they say their tastebuds actually come alive and are restored. They can taste flavors they hadn’t been able to taste in a long time.
The same is true for our spiritual tastebuds.
This is where fasting comes in. Fasting is one of the most significant spiritual disciplines in transforming our hearts. Fasting can accomplish three things:
1. Fasting reveals our true hunger. When we take away our easy coping mechanisms, we are left to stare down our true hungers. We begin to see our brokenness on display, to address our anxieties and fears. Just as when our brain tells our stomach it is time to eat, so our anxious thoughts can tell our soul it is time to cast our cares on Christ and lean into his care, strength, power, and love.
2. Fasting invites us to master our flesh. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control, and just because we feel a certain way doesn’t mean we have to act on it. We submit our bodies to the Spirit, disciplining our lives and training to win the prize. Every one of these illustrations points to the benefits of discipline.
3. Fasting adds spiritual power to our intercession. While much of my fasting in this season is a discipline to make adjustments in my soul, another aspect of fasting is to enhance our prayers. We come before God, praying that his will be done. I can’t think of a better time for intentional fasting and praying for many of the things that are in desperate need of God’s wisdom, direction, redemption, and grace.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35, NIV).
Whether you are in a challenging space spiritually and need to do some surgery on your heart, or you are passionately wrestling with the principalities to usher in the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven—or somewhere in between—fasting can be a needed gift for this time in our church, our community, our denomination, our country, and the world.
Benjamin Kerns is one of the lead pastors of Marin Covenant Church in San Rafael, California.