Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Start with prayer

It's my habit to start every meeting with prayer. It might seem like a small thing, but it's not. Prayer connects us with intent to a God who is always present to us but to whom we are not always present. Prayer reminds us that everything we do or discuss happens within the context of God's love for the world. Prayer opens us up to a wisdom that is beyond our own cognitive powers even at their best.

For the same reason, I begin each day not just with prayer but with reading the Bible (it's when I do my Bible challenge reading). Again, it's about intentionality and perspective and wisdom. It's about being open to transformation -- and I find that happens not when I try to figure everything out myself but when I'm open to the deep wisdom of God in prayer and scripture.

As the weather has gotten warmer, things are starting to heat up downtown. Change is happening, and with change comes conflict. Some of the conflicts are age-old ... particularly the ones surrounding how we live together as a community that includes the urban poor and homeless -- and some are new. But just about all of them defy easy answers. Just about all of them involve differing -- and sometimes contradictory versions of reality. Many of them seemingly require the wisdom of Solomon to sort out!

Frankly, many of the issues we are leave me at a loss. And so I am doing the only thing I know how to do. I am praying and I am reading scripture. But I am not doing it alone.

Starting last week, I've invited a group of downtown pastors to meet together for just a half-hour a week (5-5:30 pm at Gelateria Tavolini on 14th and Washington). Our only agenda for that half-hour is to read the Bible and to pray for one another and for the city. That's it. No problem-solving. No negotiating. No bitching and moaning. Just exploring scripture and prayer.

It's started small. Last week it was me, Jon and Amanda Andrus (who own GT and are involved in pastoring the Pursuit Christian Community) and a Southern Baptist church planter who happened to walk in while we were meeting. Schedules being what they are, I'm sure we'll have people who are more regular than others ... but everyone I have invited has said they hope they can come.

I don't know what the solutions are to the challenges we face downtown -- challenges of economic development, poverty, homelessness, health, safety and others. But I do know that if those of us who are committed to making this a city that makes glad God's heart start with prayer and build that as our foundation ... then we have a better chance of wisdom deeper than our own being revealed to us.

What do you think?