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Prayer Blog

January 8th Prayer Blog

Posted by Carol Gilbert on


I am thanking God for a pastor who addresses hard things head-on, who is willing to step on our toes for our own good and for the good of Christ’s church.

The problem Pastor Dave tackled on Sunday was apathy about the value and importance of the institutional church, as evidenced by irregular church attendance and lack of full engagement in the church. We may say we believe that the structure of the church, its institutional “bones,” are important, but our real-life priorities and actions don’t always back it up. We let things that are good things – Dave cited youth sports, grades, leisure, friends, jobs, as examples – assume a higher priority than being fully engaged at church. We slip into thinking that podcasts, YouTube sermons, Christian radio, and Bible study software are acceptable substitutes. These “substitutes” are certainly easier!
But Dave maintained that they cannot fill our spiritual fuel tanks. Only meeting with God in the company of other believers, with face-to-face fellowship, serving and giving (not just consuming and receiving) – only real koinonia – can fill you up.

If you missed Dave’s sermon, I recommend that you watch or listen on our website when it is posted in the next few days. (You can hear Dave speak at greater length about the “organic” church versus the “institutional” church here.)

Now, how to pray?

Take some time before the Lord, perhaps with your 2018 calendar in hand, and evaluate your (or your family’s) attendance at church (and small group, youth group, etc.) in the last year. When you were absent, what kept you away? Ask the Holy Spirit to use this time, not as a legalistic exercise, but rather to shine His light on what your priorities have been. Ask the Lord to help you receive, humbly and honestly, what He has to say.

Ask the Holy Spirit to examine the quality, not just the quantity, of your presence in church. Even if you attend every single Sunday, is a weekly 75-minute service all the Lord wants for you? Ask Him how He wants you to engage, fellowship, and serve.

Dave used Goldilocks as an analogy to make the point that we can fail on the side of “too much” church just as well as “too little.” We can turn extensive church involvement into an ego trip or a works-based theology. We can be so committed to church that we’re unavailable to our family and the world outside our church walls. Ask God to help you find the “just right” balance of engagement with the body and engagement with the world.

It is ironic that the people who most need to be held accountable for apathy toward church attendance probably did not hear Dave’s sermon. Being careful to take the log out of your own eye first, ask the Lord to point you toward someone in your sphere of influence who needs to hear Dave’s message and think seriously about the issue he raised. Perhaps it is someone who has expressed to you that he or she feels disconnected at church. Ask the Lord to show you when, where, and how to share truth in love with that person.


Lift up the Hildebrandt family, formerly part of Calvary, who lost Matthew, or Matty, in a tragic accident the day after Christmas, days before his second birthday. Pray for them as they process their loss and grieve in their individual ways. Matthew’s parents are Susan and Daniel; his siblings are (oldest to youngest) Abby, DJ, Isaac, Lillian, Caleb, Katherine, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Sophia, Naomi, and Josiah.

Please pray for another former Calvary attender, Amber Gallegos. A single mother of three young children, Amber moved to Indiana just over a year ago for a job opportunity and lower living costs. The family returned to SoCal a few weeks ago so Amber could be treated for Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer at City of Hope. Ask the Lord to give Amber relief from severe pain in her shoulder, where the cancer has spread. Support Amber in prayer as she struggles to trust God with her life and with her children.

At our Vision Celebration on January 20, we will look back at 2018 and hear plans for 2019 from our leadership. As you pray for Calvary’s leadership and direction in the New Year, pray for our sister church in Pszczyna, Poland, as well. Their elders and deacons are meeting this month to listen to the Lord concerning His vision for their church, and they will share it with the whole membership later in January.

Pray for the young parents participating in the Family Equipping Fellowship, asking God to use this 12-week course to align their parental philosophies and practices with His ways. Lift up Dave and Carrie Tebay as they teach the course.

Finally, pray for our Equippers – leaders of small groups and life groups – as they meet this evening. These leaders pray faithfully for their group members, but they need prayer too!

In Christ,
Carol Gilbert
Calvary Community Church of Brea