2023 fmcusa general conference

July 25-28, 2023

GC23 News

The Posture of a People of Prayer

September 1, 2022

Hands over Bible praying
Brett D. Heintzman

Brett D. Heintzman

Director L+L Communications

Brett D. Heintzman is the publisher of Light + Life and the communications director of the Free Methodist Church USA, which he also serves as the co-director of the National Prayer Ministry. Visit freemethodistbooks.com to order his books “Becoming a Person of Prayer,” “Vital: Holy People,” “Jericho: Your Journey to Deliverance and Freedom” and “The Crossroads: Asking for the Ancient Paths.”

By Brett D. Heintzman

Imagine that you’ve just heard from friends that one of their loved ones has passed away. They are in the very first stages of grief and are distraught, tearful, and heartbroken. You, as their friend, immediately want to comfort them and be there for them. Although the perfect words escape you, your heart is sympathetic toward them and their grief. The shift in your heart is a natural change in posture. The small things of life and common pleasantries take a back seat to the more important matters at hand. It would be unthinkable to simply send a sympathy card with no shift in your heart and consider that you had fulfilled all obligations to your friends. No, true sympathy would call for more — for a move in the direction of empathy.

Such is the case with prayer. Often, we hear of needs and a request for prayer, and we express that we will pray. May I be bold enough for a moment to ask how often our intentions become action and we actually pray for the need? Could it be that we as Christians have learned to express our intent to pray as a way of expressing concern for a need, but don’t actually pray? If you do, well, great! If not, I think we have learned to “send sympathy cards with no change of heart.” Social media is one venue where we have learned to express our concern by saying we will pray for someone and quite possibly don’t actually pray.

What is lacking that we would express concern without actually praying? Posture.

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“Only we can keep our hearts in check.”

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I believe all Christians pray because prayer is the natural outflow of a genuine relationship with God. However, just as the Laodiceans were called out for being “lukewarm,” we too must stoke the fires of our hearts to ensure our prayer lives are red hot. This is on us. Only we can keep our hearts in check. We’ve all gone through lukewarm seasons, but there are certain times that God’s people have been called to up their game regarding prayer and fasting. Consider this passage from the prophet Joel:

“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord” (Joel 1:14).

Offerings were being withheld from the Lord, and there needed to be a remedy that called for reset of posture.

“Put on sackcloth, you priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God” (Joel 1:13).

Joel, on behalf of the Lord Himself, is calling the people to an intentional change in posture because the times demand it. It involves sackcloth and ashes, fasting and crying out to the Lord.

The question is, do the times today demand such an intentional shift in posture? I believe the answer is “yes!” Our FM family is less than one year away from our General Conference. As you may know, each GC is more than an event. We elect our bishops, and our elected delegates conference over resolutions that are presented to change our Book of Discipline. We gather, worship, celebrate, and pray. But prayer must be more than one facet of the weekly program; it must be the foundation that is laid for the event beginning even now.

The National Prayer Summit will take place on Monday, July 24, on a preconference day just prior to the beginning of General Conference 2023 on July 25. Even the Prayer Summit is not enough. It cannot be the beginning and end of the prayer foundation for GC. The full foundation of prayer must begin now and take us through the entire year. It must involve the whole of our family, not just the usual prayer warriors that we call upon for special moments.

This month, Light + Life is focusing on “The Call to Pray.” It is an intentional call — an invitation to do more than express mere concern for the coming year, but to intentionally change our posture so as to lay a solid foundation of intercession for our General Conference.

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“There is great power in prayer.”

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How do we do this? Posture can be defined in these ways:

Readiness and Anticipation: People who intentionally posture themselves for prayer are ready for the call and anticipate the opportunity to actually pray with great eagerness. This is a heart condition that can be cultivated. Cultivation takes discipline. When you and I cultivate our hearts, we must first set aside time to pray. Something that begins with discipline soon blossoms into something that naturally flows with joy. Are you experiencing joyful readiness? Can you sense the anticipation? Let’s stir up our hearts and embrace this opportunity to pray over the next year with great anticipation.

Relationship and Intimacy: People who intentionally posture themselves for prayer are in deep and intimate relationship with the Lord. How is your relationship with Jesus at the moment? Are you in the Word and spending time with Him in prayer? How rich are those daily conversations? You and I can make a choice to deepen our personal relationship with the Lord and, in doing so, will see an increased desire to pray.

Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength: People who intentionally posture themselves for prayer are all in. Most if not all Christians would say that they are “all in,” yet we must truly examine ourselves to see if this is indeed true. Does the Lord have my whole heart, entire soul, all my mind, and all my strength? To what degree can I give Him more? You and I can make an intentional choice to give over to the Lord our entire being, and, in doing so, we will see an increased desire to pray.

Empathy and Involvement: Truth be told, many Free Methodists are not aware of, or are involved in, General Conference. Is it likely that people will not pray for things they do not care about or have no knowledge of. Again, we can be intentional about our willingness to pray. Invite someone to join you in praying for General Conference. Help them to know more about the divine appointments that take place at GC and why a foundation of intercession is so important. Invite them to be sympathetic, even empathetic, toward the event and get involved through fasting and prayer.

There is great power in prayer — we all know this. Yet, there is little power in intention without action. For GC and other pressing matters of the church, let’s be more than a people of prayer. Let’s be people with a posture of prayer. I plan to accept this invitation. Will you? May it be so. Amen.+

Brett D. Heintzman

Brett D. Heintzman

Director L+L Communications

Brett D. Heintzman is the publisher of Light + Life and the communications director of the Free Methodist Church USA, which he also serves as the co-director of the National Prayer Ministry. Visit freemethodistbooks.com to order his books “Becoming a Person of Prayer,” “Vital: Holy People,” “Jericho: Your Journey to Deliverance and Freedom” and “The Crossroads: Asking for the Ancient Paths.”