In the Ember Prayer Room, we rotate through a different apostolic prayer every week. The apostolic prayers are what we see the early church praying. It is helpful to note that most of the prayers we see in the New Testament are Directed to God, positive, and primarily for the Church.
Ephesians 1:17-19; Ephesians 3:16-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-11; Romans 15:5-6, 13; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5; Acts 4: 29-31; Acts 2:17-21
Every time we pray them, I feel like I am prophesying the church's destiny. The early church was not asking God for some whimsical idea. They had understanding of the end of the story; Jesus, the bridegroom, will be receiving a victorious bride.
6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.-Rev. 19:6-8
And indeed Paul expresses what we are working towards as the body of Christ.
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;-Ephesians 4:13
Even recently, I can honestly say (if i can be honest) that I find myself discouraged with how we the church are relating to the poor and the broken, the marginalized. As I wrestle through this I love that I am weekly in a prayer room, accountable to this small company of people, praying for the church. There are so many moments that I am frustrated, but when we start singing phrases from passages like, "that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ," I experience affection for Christ's bride. Singing the scripture brings my awareness into the reality of this being my story. This story is one of God transforming a harlot into a queen through the fires of His love. It is a process that my own personal story is caught up in; continually receiving grace and forgiveness in the midst of my mess. This is the journey of the church. This is how I get to grow through partnership with Christ; in forgiveness and extending mercy to a people in process.
We are in this together. When we pray for the Church, we use language like "we" and "us" rather than "them." In the same way we see the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit as three distinct persons in one; God sees us in the same reality. "that they all may be one, asYou, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us," -John 17:21. When I visualize the Church of the City of Norman, I am intentional to not visualize denominations or organizations, I see a people with multiple expressions of His heart.
What do you think about the Church? What picture do you see the Apostolic Prayers painting? Would love to hear from you.