It’s summertime. That means sunny days, warm weather, berry picking, canning, camping, family time, boating, picnics, vacations, fun times, etc. But, let’s remember to not take a vacation from our spiritual life!
A few days ago, during our worship portion of our church service, God spoke to my heart to pray for an expectation in the people. I could sense there was little expectation in that particular service. it caused me to look at myself. It also stirred me to do some research into the scriptures, so I would know how specifically to pray for this. What I discovered is found in the numbered points below, but first I want you to think about this: What do you expect when you go to church? To be entertained? To be stirred up spiritually? To be healed, helped? To be fed? To see your friends? To put your time in? To please God? To serve? Nothing… to just sit there and pass the time, checking your email or facebook, hoping the message is short, so you can get on with your day? Whatever it is…..What you expect is what you will get! If you expect nothing, chances are you will receive nothing.
I know I was challenged with this myself, when God spoke this to my spirit. It’s so easy to just be on auto-pilot when we go to church. First of all, realize that your pastor spends most of his week preparing for the message. Yes, that is his life. However, no matter how hard he studies, prays and is ready to present what God has revealed to him, if the congregation is not in tune and not expecting, an anointed message can fall flat. It’s the job of the congregation to plug in a head of time so they are spiritually in tune, ready to receive, and expecting. Expectation is a key to receiving what God has for you in any service. Webster’s dictionary defines expectation as a strong belief that something will happen. I want something to happen in each service I attend, don’t you?
Sometimes when we go to a conference, everyone has their expectation turned on! They are prayed up and ready to receive. I have seen the difference in that type of setting. The spirit of God moves exponentially, gifts of the spirit flow and miraculous results occur, all because of the expectation of the people. It’s not just the great speaker! (Although he or she may be great) It’s the people and what they came with; expectation. It stirs the very atmosphere. God’s presence is there due to the people and their readiness to receive what He has.
However in a regular weekly church service, oftentimes people can get dull and sleepy. People come in late, are tired or sluggish and have no real expectation. One time a preacher friend of mine told a congregation, “ If you get sleepy during the service, lift your eyebrows up! You will stay awake (it’s hard to sleep with your eyebrows raised!) Sit on the edge of your chair…your pastor will appreciate the look of ‘I’m expecting today’!” Sure enough, when we come expecting and hungry God will respond and bring forth exactly what we need for the days, weeks and months that are ahead.
Here is what I discovered when searching the scriptures regarding expectation, so that I could pray more effectively:
1) Pray for an alertness and expectation in the people. We need to be on our guard or we can slowly get dulled by the world. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the world around us and before we know it we are spiritually dull.
Luke 21:34-36 “But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.” (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
2) Pray for a stirring in the people
2 Tim 1:5-6 “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” NKJV
To stir up basically means to rekindle or fire-up. We have a responsibility to keep ourselves stirred up spiritually. We do this through praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20) and staying in the Word of God on a daily basis.
3) Pray for a hunger in the people.
Matt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. NKJV
The word hunger here means, famish or to crave. One bible dictionary says, “avidly to desire something (as necessary to life)”. Now that is hunger! Pray for that in yourself and others!
4) Pray for focused attention in each service.
Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. NKJV
From the Message Version: “It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.”
The word here, “give the more earnest heed to” gives the idea of holding the mind towards, i.e. pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to, adhere to. (Strong’s Concordance ) The second part of this verse talks about drifting away. It means to flow by or carelessly, pass (miss). It gives the idea of a ship coming into port and instead due to carelessness they drift by and are carried out to sea. Ellicotts commentary says, “ It is the man that is in danger of being carried along by the current: unless the mind be held closely to the words that God has spoken, it must drift away from them, and from the salvation which they promise.”
So the next church service you attend, prepare yourself ahead of time and go hungry and expecting. Stir yourself up through prayer. Pray for the congregation that you are a part of. Be alert and attentive to what is being preached. And stay focused during the message. Don’t allow your mind to wander. And see the difference, not only in the atmosphere but what takes place in your own spiritual life as well. I love church and the assembling of the people together. Let’s help people get what God has purposed for each particular service through our own prayer, hunger and attentiveness. Have a super abundantly blessed day!
P.S. Don’t forget to go to church this weekend!
Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Copyright © 1972-1989 By Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.)
THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
 (from Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Copyright © 1972-1989 By Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.)