As you make loving others the priority of your church’s life all other goals that are important and biblical, tend to fall into place fairly spontaneously. It works that way with discipleship, prayer – other biblical values that are worth pursuing.
If you make those other goals the focus, as important as they are, they are not likely to materialize in your midst as a congregation. You can try to teach them into existence and to a degree that will help, but in the end, God’s presence is required for success.
If you make it your aim to become a praying church it is unlikely you will ever get there unless you reach out to love others. But as you reach out you will learn to pray along the way.
If you make it your aim to become a loving church, one thing is for sure – you’ll never get there by simply trying to become more loving or by preaching about love.
Get lost in loving others beyond your borders and see what God builds. God’s Spirit will come upon your congregation in a profound way. You will be known for your love for one another.
I disagree, and I don’t. What I’m not a fan of in what you said is the use of the sweeping statements – i.e. being a praying church doesn’t likely lead to being a loving church, but only the other way around. That feels like we’re doubting that spending time with God can break our hearts, which in turn leads to love.
I’m perhaps referencing a modern mantra here: If you love God, you love others; if you love others, you love God. Perhaps this is less about how one leads to another and more about how they overlap in a messy arrangement of possibility.
At the core, though, I like what you said out to say and don’t disagree with it – namely, we should be loving others more. Thanks!
I couldn’t agree with you more Steve.
Loving people like God loves us is what life is all about. Hard for any person or church to get too off course by starting from this place of simple and sacred truth.
Mr. Myles makes a valid point about the inherent worth of prayer for both individuals and congregations, but this chicken and egg discussion compliments your point more than I think his comment might at first glance suggest.
One of the purposes of prayer is to enable us to do the will of God, which invariably has to do with our loving one person or another in response to God’s prompting, and because it’s just the right thing to do. An argument can be made that prayer without doing something seemingly more tangible to show God’s love to others in a practical way can be a form of faith without works.
At the same time, one question to further ponder on this point is whether the act of praying for others is loving them well enough in and of itself?
Perhaps Mr. Myles makes a pretty good point to that end when it comes to the power and value of praying first. What is more loving than lifting another person up in prayer to the Lord? While it may appear to be less tangible then other simple acts of kindness, in the end, which is more loving to do for another person?
Personally, I think that praying for others leads to loving them as much as loving others through practical acts of service leads to prayer. But if I had to go with one or the other first, I would emphasize tangible acts of kindness, as humans have very practical needs in this life that I know God wants us to meet as His hands and heart here on earth. The Golden Rule comes to mind.
Having said this, a number ofinstances also come to mind where I recall people having been told that they were being prayed for by others, which in turn greatly blessed them, even to the point of tears. No doubt, these people on the receiving end of such kindness felt plenty loved in those situations.
I agree with Tony Myles. I like the essence of your message, but I believe the two (prayer and loving others) work hand and hand. There is a reason we are admonished to pray without cease. We have to avoid pride, doing good to make ourselves feel good and other selfish motives. The enemy is always looking for a way to sneak in.
Prayer is our way talking to and hearing from God lest we forget it really is all about doing the will of the Father.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate all of your spiritual insight.
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