Author’s Note: The impetus of my story below took place last year… but the global COVID-19 has provoked an even greater urgency in my mind and heart. My prayer is that as you read my story, the Holy Spirit will launch you onto a reimagine-journey that will influence your thinking in a way that will forever impact those you serve.
Romans 12:2 transformed my life. Again.
When I was a teenager the Holy Spirit set this scripture as a foundation of my discipleship into serving Christ. It was planted in sermons, watered in scripture reading, and began growing in my prayers.
But always with a singular application; personal. To me. My walk of faith. My calling.
50+ years later, Romans 12:2 is transforming me again.
Now when I hear it in sermons, read it in scripture, inspired by the text as I pray, I am unable to merely make a personal application. I am compelled to extend the reach of the text to the Church. Our mission. Our message. Our ministries.
My paraphrase: Church…don’t be conformed or confined to the systems and strategies of evangelism and disciple-making you’ve designed and developed over the decades or even centuries. Your ministry must be transformed by the renewing of your mind; a fresh rethink in how you communicate with and engage the culture you are called to influence and impact… so that… how you explain and express the Gospel declares and demonstrates that God’s will, is truly good, perfectly satisfying, and moves you toward being a complete person.
Reimagining this scripture is not a wholesale rejection of the past traditions or a repudiation of present trends but a seeking to go beyond a simple updating of methodology. This rethinking is an openness to “sing a new song,” (Psalm 98:1; Revelation 5:9) which springs from a fresh assessment of how the living Word of God relates to a radically and rapidly changing culture. Never changing the inspired message of the Gospel but reimagining how God is creatively at work in this moment or season to reveal the truths of Jesus Christ our Lord.
God’s Word has not changed. But our understanding of how to obey, implement, and communicate God’s will in our unique place and time does. Which is why we need to reimagine prayer if we expect to reengage the mind of Christ as we apply Romans 12:2 to situations that demand a future perspective.
My reimaging-journey helped me perceive prayer, not as the most important thing, but important to everything. Worship. Discipleship. Leadership. Evangelism. Mission. Pray first.
These scriptures have become my template of how to rethink prayer and praying:
- Ephesians 2:6: We are now co-seated as one with Christ! TPT
This is what it means to pray “in the name of Christ”- In Christ’s presence; With Christ in His purpose and perspective; By Christ’s authority.
- Hebrews 7:25: Jesus … lives to pray continually for (us). TPT
We have an all-access pass (presence) to the intercessory conversation of the Father and the Son (our Redeemer speaking on our behalf to the Creator/Ruler)
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17: Make your life a prayer. TPT Never stop praying. NLT
Our all-access pass gives us proximity but also immediacy. We pray from our position with Christ as we consciously communicate in each moment, experience, and circumstance of the day. Pray NOW!
Rather than simply approaching planning, decision-making, and goal-setting by selecting from among the latest best practices or newest resources (i.e., by “leaning on my own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) or the ideas and programs of others), my goal is to make decisions that result from a process that is truly Spirit-led and Scripture-fed.
- The leading of the Spirit must be our guide; God coaches us on the journey.
“Be (constantly) filled (under the control of) the Spirit” Ephesians 5:18
- The feeding from Scripture must be our guard; God reveals truth and wisdom.
“Everyone who hears my teaching (even while praying) and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation.” Matthew 7:24
Rather than beginning prayer during a planning session or a decision-making discussion with a list of requests (“help us, give us, bless us”), we do well to begin by “asking, seeking, knocking.” Mathew 7:7.
- Ask… first with a question: How should we proceed? (process) Where are you leading us? (purpose) What is your will? (plans and promises).
- Seek… by listening for discernment and direction before listing wants and needs through stillness and silence, searching scripture, and sharing around the circle.
- Knock… and keep on asking-seeking-knocking because we are invited to “Come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. (Hebrews 4:16) …because our Lord told us “Now you can ask, and keep on asking! And you can be sure you’ll receive what you ask for, and your joy will have no limits! (John 16:24)
“Reimagine” is a transitive verb; it indicates a transition from what is (status quo) to a new conception. Failing to invite and involve God (Sovereign Lord, Savior, Spirit) in every stage of our action-plans and each step of goal-setting compromises our ability, as individuals and organizations, to “determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” (GW)
People use different paths to begin their journey of faith.
- Ask the Spirit to give you discernment into the path that suits them (individuals, groups) best.
- Seek the Lord for direction in how to best engage them at their point of need or readiness.
- Knock by asking questions first, listening to their story, waiting for a prompt from the Spirit before you respond verbally, with generosity by spending time with them.
Rethink how you would approach someone or a group of people who are on these paths, how you could guide them into a reimagine-journey of their own. Think of people who respond to:
- Truth – information and interaction, discussion or debate, such as at a Book Club or Bible Study
- Generosity – meet a practical need
- Kindness – authentic words or acts of affirmation
- Advocacy – respond to an injustice that afflicts their life or a cause they believe in
- Community – invite them into a relational experience
- Service – ask them to partner with you/your church in a service project
- Stories – listen to their story, ask authentic questions, share your story when prompted
- Pray – “How can I pray for you?” “Would you like to pray before/after I pray?”
When we live out Romans 12:2, we:
- Refuse to be controlled by what is comfortable or popular
- Pursue (journey) a review (rethinking) that leads to a renewing of mind and ministry
- Avoid merely exchanging a current practice for a different one
…by engaging resources that will equip us to know, pray, and communicate God’s will (salvation by grace through faith in Christ” Ephesians 2:8-9) …in God’s way (“This is how God loved the world.” John 3:16)
Start your own reimagine-journey.
Include your family. Invite your cohorts.
Model and motivate others to #ReimagineROMANS12:2
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