“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
Every Tuesday our church staff sits down together to pray for the different things going on in our church, along with praying for the various prayer request submissions we get every week. Although many of the various ministries would spend time praying with each other as a part of their ministry, it wasn’t until this last year that we decided that praying together regularly as a whole staff was something we needed to do. This time has become one of my favorite parts of the week. Not only do we get to take a break from the scheduling, the practicing, the researching, and the meetings, but we are reminded every week about how badly we need Jesus for the work we are doing.
There is a misunderstanding I think that we as ministry leaders often have as to why people come to our church. If you ask the Family Pastor, he would say its the quality of the Children and Student ministries. If you asked the Worship Pastor, he would say the worship. The Senior Pastor, the teaching. And so on and so forth. But as we meet every Tuesday and we read through the various prayer requests, I’m not sure if any of those things are the real reason people come to our church.
I’ve never read a prayer card asking for better music in the main worship service, or for better snacks in the 3rd grade Sunday school, or for more interesting anecdotes to accompany the preacher’s sermons. People are asking to be healed from cancer, to be freed from addiction, to be reconciled with family, to see their friends come to salvation, to find hope in the midst of unemployment. People come to our church looking for miracles that only God can do.
When I think of the time period that Jesus came, I will often times wrongly think of it as in irreligious time. But that was not the case. Jesus came during a period of the Pharisees and Essenes. It was a time of religious reform. The temple was built and active and the Jewish culture was growing more and more, since Rome had no interest in cultural micromanagement. Jesus didn’t come to polytheistic Rome or to the hedonistic Greeks, rather he was born in the “Torah-belt.” This was on purpose. At that time, despite all of the religious reforms, the ascetic stringency, the meticulous elaborations and adherence to the Law, people were still living in darkness. The Jewish religion could not meet the needs of its constituents.
And neither can we. When we pray through the prayer requests every Tuesday, reading through people’s desperate cries for something impossible, I always think of John 1:5. Jesus is the light religion can’t turn on. He gives life that the church, without him, cannot resurrect in others. This should be both encouraging and frightening. The success of our church is not the quality of our programs, which is good news. Instead it is the ability for us to do the impossible, which is terrifying. We are selling a product that we, in and of ourselves, do not possess.
And this is why we pray.
Lord Jesus, we cannot do what you have asked us to and we desperately need you. You are the only light sufficient to overcome the darkness of this world! Come Lord Jesus, Come.