There are lots of ways we prepare for Good Friday and Easter as a church. From graphics and website stuff, to planning across all our service teams, to coordinating with our meeting location, and of course the plans to celebrate Jesus through the Word and song.
Let me be clear, all of this is good and needed, but the reality is it’s possible to prepare for Easter and actually end up missing the whole point of Easter. Here’s what I mean: This week I realized that in all my preparation one thing has been severely lacking, PRAYER. I confess that prayer hasn’t been on my radar like it should. It just hasn’t. And God in his grace reminded me why this needs to change.
- Prayer for My Own Heart: I need to pray and meditate on God’s word to remember just how significant the cross and resurrection are in my own life. Not just around Easter, but throughout the year. I need to repent of the ways I miss it’s centrality and get caught up in other things that don’t hold as much value. I often find that my heart attitude toward my day or work or relationships isn’t one of gratitude, as it should be in light of the reality of the cross.
- Prayer for the Hearts of Those Around Me: Easter is a unique season in our culture where many will make plans to attend church and even participate in some religious traditions, when the majority of the year, this is not the case. I think of 2 of my neighbors and some parents on my kid’s t-ball team who just seem to be more open to conversation about church recently. All of this reminds to pray for them. We plan to invite them, but it’s uncomfortable (yes even for me as a pastor), and I need the Spirit of God to move them and me to have a conversation about the most significant event in history. Otherwise we’ll just settle for talk about the NCAA tourney and how “it’s getting hot again”.
We started the year with a series, “Pray First”, but it seems like God continues to bring this up for me. How about you? What needs to change about your prayer life, specifically as we focus on the cross and resurrection leading up to Easter? How can you make it more of a priority? Here are few things to consider:
- Plan a time to pray: morning/evening, 10 minutes/30 minutes etc.
- Plan a place to pray: a chair you’ll sit in, the car drive to or from work, the backyard while the sun sets.
- Plan to Read the biblical account of the cross and resurrection. Mark 14:32-16:8. Watch the movie, The Passion of the Christ. If you’re like me, all the noises of the day cause me to forget the gravity and weight of all that Jesus went through. Committing some time to meditate on it will direct you as you pray.
- Pray for specifics:
- The centrality of the cross in your life, the price paid, the finality of it, the loving sacrifice of Jesus on your behalf so you can be saved from wrath.
- The victory of the resurrection, its power over the sin in your life, its power to change the lives of people around you, the boldness it provides in how you share Jesus with others.
- Friends or family members who don’t yet know Jesus, ways you can share Jesus with them and invite them to Good Friday and Easter services.
- Friends or family members who are nominally connected to the church, who may need to be baptized, or who need to make following Jesus more of a priority throughout the year and not just around Christmas and Easter.
Here’s what we want as a church during Easter and any time of year: God’s glory to reign in our lives and in our city through the person and work of Jesus. This won’t happen without prayer. There are other plans and details coming, but start with prayer and make it the thread that connects everything else.