Do you remember your first prayer? Not the first time you memorized, "Now I lay me down to sleep..." and not even those meaningful prayers you may have prayed at bedtime as a child. I'm asking for you to recall that first time you cried out to God in desperation. I'm asking you to remember that first time you faced a situation so overwhelming that it exposed the magnitude of your human limitations and left you in a place of frenzied faith for divine intervention. Do you remember that time?
I do. I was eleven. My mom was well into her pregnancy with my brother. I remember my mom being in her room and dad was on the phone calling people on the phone to come to the house. I'll never forget the expression on his face. It is the only time I ever remember seeing my dad afraid. Neighbors came rushing over, mom was helped into a car that raced off to the hospital. They told me and my sister (13) that everything was going to be okay and that we should go back to bed. It was one of those moments as a child when you realized that adults lie.
September of that year my brother was born after months of my mom being on bed rest. I know scores of people were praying that night. No Facebook in 1978, just the telephone! Churches then had prayer chains. You were assigned people to call to notify them of a prayer need whenever you were called...I think all of Varina's phones were ringing that night! I made a call too, my first prayer.
I was in bed crying, afraid, I saw the look on everyone's face. Was that going to be the last time I ever saw my mom? Was she going to die? Was my brother/sister going to die? I found my prayer voice that night. And although my prayer life went through what should probably be referred to as the silent years during the debauchery of my high school and college life, that first prayer has now become a life of prayer. And God answered.
As I was praying for North Riverside Baptist Church on Wednesday, March 16th for their impending vote to invite City Life to join them at their church here on 311 Selden Road, God reminded me of that night in 1978. Faith builds in our hearts when we recall the times from our past when God heard our cry! Think of all the times God has intervened on your behalf! Think of all the answers to prayer God has graciously given to you! Think of all the times you have posted on Facebook, called a friend, shared at church, cried with your family...because of an answer to prayer!
But what if you could be an answer to prayer for God? What would that be like? Even though we call Matthew 6:9-13 The Lord's Prayer, this is really our prayer. This is Jesus teaching us to pray. But Jesus does have a prayer. But that prayer is in John 17. Look at verses 20 and 21. Jesus says this prayer is for us, for all future Christians. And what does He pray? In verse 21 He prays for unity. City Life has a vision for multi-church campuses for one central reason. We want to be an answer to Jesus' prayer just as He is so often an answer to ours! When NRBC voted in the affirmative last night, Jesus pointed at 311 Selden Road and told all of Heaven that another room full of Godly people answered His prayer!
I know there will be dissenters. There will always be people who are not able to see past their own superficial, personal preferences...people who only ever want answers to prayer but never willing to make the kind of sacrifices necessary to be an answer to prayer, not even for Jesus. I love how this decision for City Life to join NRBC and form a new multi-church campus here in the 757 is just weeks before Easter as we celebrate Jesus' greatest of sacrifices! It's never wrong to question. It's never wrong to be honest about your concerns. It's never wrong to share your fears, your reluctance. But God expects us to work through the reaction that comes from our humanity and feel the eternal part of who we are deep within beginning to resonate with the call of the Holy Spirit within us saying, "Be an answer to Jesus' prayer!"
City Life has never had 24/7 access to a facility before. We have never had a campus where all of our operations were in one central location. I believe God is going to give some of you dreams for new ministries, dreams that are going to be possible now because there is a place for those ministries to begin. For example, we have never been able to do conference type ministry that starts on a Friday night and culminates with our Saturday night service. We've dreamed for years of encounter type weekends where people can come for extended times of prayer and worship. How about being able to baptize people...during our weekend worship service!
There is triple the parking capacity here compared to The Mosaic and a building with endless classroom space, phenomenal nursery, youth rooms, a commercial kitchen, and a fellowship hall that can accommodate our entire campus. The sanctuary can seat 400 people which means our NN Campus can double in size. There is also a budget to renovate the existing chapel for our weekly youth service on Wednesday nights! I know from the picture I posted to Facebook yesterday of the existing sanctuary you see a worship space that is quite different from what you are accustomed to seeing on Saturday nights. But once the renovation is complete which includes $70,000 in theatrical lighting, a stage redesign, $20,000 in sound upgrades, and all the technicals support systems necessary to provide a modern worship experience, you are going to fall in love with this sanctuary!
Jesus prayed. Will you be an answer to prayer?