Enter the Story of Jesus

April 22, 2024

Jubilee Family,

I underlined many words in chapter 11 of A Praying Church: Becoming A People of Hope In a Discouraging World. Miller titles this chapter The Spirit’s Path, bringing the reading back to an earlier work of his called The J Curve, which I highly recommend. Simply put, the J Curve illustrates Jesus’ dying and rising story. Miller helps the reader understand that the story of Jesus’ people conforms to the same pattern of rising and dying because this is how the Spirit operates in the lives of believers.

I did most of my underlining in the section on how prayer also conforms to the dying and rising of the J Curve. Sit with these quotes and meditate on them today.

Prayer itself is dying and rising (110).

Many Christians expect that good praying should have a spiritual “high” to it, a sense that you’ve connected with God. But the actual experience of prayer can be tedious. The combination of expecting great feelings and encountering boredom is dislocating. It’s one of the reason we distance ourselves from praying together. But what if prayer itself is shaped like Jesus’ dying and rising? The act of praying itself is a kind of dying, where you give up your self will to “make things happen” and go to God with a collective “Help us.” The initial feeling of prayer is dying to self, because praying is an act of the will, a decision to shut down your activity and open the door to God’s activity (111).

By itself, dying does nothing. So how do we link Christ with our dying? Keep showing up. Don’t quit. Pray when you are bored. Pray when you are weary. Pray when others are boring. Don’t run from Gethsemane. Pray in Gethsemane (112)!

Like the seed that dies, prayer disappears into the ground, out of our control, and then it bursts out of the soil as a small green leaf (112).

We’ve not invited a feel-good Jesus into our community; we’ve submitted ourselves to the rule of a battle-hardened warrior king, the Lion-Lamb who’s come to deal with evil. He’s not here to make our plans work. He’s here to draw us into his Father’s mission. A praying community continuously invites his disruptive rule. He still calms storms, rebukes demons, and flips tables! For sure, praying together isn’t like pagan magic — it’s not a way of getting what you want; it’s a way of entering the story of Jesus (113).

Jubilee, let’s enter the story of Jesus together by praying together! Dan and I are at the Treasuring Christ Together Network Pastor’s Retreat. It’s been a sweet time! We love that Jubilee is part of a band of churches who seek to Treasure Christ together! Joe Smith, who helped organize our time, said something to me that was quite simple and profound. He pointed me to  1 Thess 5:16-18, which reads, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Then he said that he found out that where there is no prayer without ceasing, he was neither rejoicing nor thankful. Now that will preach! More importantly, that will remind us of the importance of being a praying church.

Pastor Lew