Prayer is one of the most acclaimed of the spiritual disciplines, and rightfully so as it is the primary conversation tool between humanity and God. Still this is one the disciplines I and many others have struggled with through the years. More than simply sharing with God what is on our hearts, and really hard, listening for what is on God's heart, there is the times of discernment. Prayers of discernment can be some of the most difficult to work through. Why because it has to do with a choice and a future. When a choice and a future are a part of the equation, there is a lot of room for human desire to slip in.
Right now the church I serve is in the midst of discerning some next steps. The join is I have wonderful leaders with a passion and heart for God. The challenge is we are all very driven people with our own ideas of what the church should be about. The work of discernment will involve sifting through our own stuff, so we can see clearly what God is calling the church to next. More than that, we will have to sift through all the good ideas, along with the great ideas to get to the one which God is calling us toward.
Discerning prayer is not a simply one day or one month activity. No, discerning prayer is a long haul discipline where we allow God to speak to us, and allow God's desire become our desire. This means a process of hearing and checking. Hearing what God has called, and checking over time and place to see if we have heard accurately. What might seem like God speaking this morning, might look differently two mornings from now.
A second component to discerning prayer is the need to be done in community. When discerning the next place God is calling, we must trust God to speak to all those discerning not just me. There must be a group of people who are engaged in the same process. The ideas that rise up, if the calling of God, will all come together without sales pitches or argument. Simply God will call and we will discern.
As one might guess this is not an easy or short process, yet it is the kind of work which moves the Body of Christ to the next places. This is the kind of work churches must be willing to do if the mission is going to be accomplished. In case you were wondering, the mission is to go make disciples of Jesus Christ. May we all be willing to do the work of discernment.