Author: Josh Howeth
We’ve all experienced it right? If you haven’t, you most likely will at some point. Going to a prayer meeting because you thought you should and because it’s “what a good Christian does” of course. You went, you made it through, and you left wondering if anything that took place actually mattered. You wondered if it was worth your time and you swore you would never come again. Yet, the next week, you felt obligated to go because it’s what a good follower of Jesus does.
Many people have baggage when it comes to prayer meetings. Most of the time you sit around and pray for what seems like trivial things: Jonny’s scraped knee, safety for someone traveling, job interviews and countless other health related concerns and money situations. It’s not that we shouldn’t pray for these things, but deep down we are really just trying to get through the list and as long as we at least mumble something related to the request we feel like we did our duty and accomplished something.
What Prayer Really Is
Whatever your perception is when it comes to prayer and more specifically praying together in community, we must understand and see it for what it really is.
It is group of people who have been grafted into the family of God, who simply get together and talk to their Father about what is on their heart. Then we get to watch and listen as God speaks into our lives and moves in and around us and answers our prayers.
It is a time where a faith family gets to come together and throw ourselves completely on our God and trust Him and His faithfulness. To cry out for Him to continue to pour out His grace like a flood on our world. To confess our sin to Him and ask the Holy Spirit to bring repentance into our lives.
Prayer gatherings are essential. They can and should be powerful.
A Praying Community
At The Branch, we want to be a community that prays. Not because we think that if we simply pray, we’ll get what we want from God. But because we want to always be a community that rests, fully dependent, upon our God.
So, starting this Wednesday, September 26th, and every Wednesday from there on out, we will gather as a community from 7-7:45 a.m. and do nothing but pray. That’s right…I said A.M.
We will pray strategically for the gospel to spread to the ends of the earth. We will intercede for our campus and our city. We will pray for our church and our leaders. And we will simply share our hearts with one another, lean on one another, and pray for each other. And then, we get the joy of hearing God speak and watching God work.
This is such a fitting time to start this as a church since we are in the middle of our two weeks of prayer and fasting. We hope you will join us this Wednesday at 7am at our office space at Central Park South. Our office is right in the heart of downtown, in the old First Congregational Building, bordering the south of Central Park. We are located in suite 11 at 760 SW Madison.
We hope you’ll come and pray with us, drink some coffee and reconnect before you head off for work or whatever else you have planned that day.
We need this. To simply have a time every week as a community that we do nothing together other than pray. This is such a valuable time. We will cherish it, and hope you will too.
Can you believe that The Branch is only five weeks away from launch? In some ways it seems like it has taken so long to get to this point, and in many ways it has come very fast. Nevertheless, the next five weeks are very critical in the life of our church and it is super important that we cherish them.
This coming Sunday, September 9th, marks the beginning of four core group worship services that will take place this month. If you are someone who currently calls The Branch your home, or if you are someone that is definitely planning on calling The Branch your home, these four services are very important for you to be a part of.
We will be meeting at La Sells Stewart Center in the Ag. Science room. Twigs will be held for children in the Wells Fargo room. We will begin at 5:30pm and our time together will run no later than 7pm.
What to Expect
During these services there will be a message delivered some weeks by myself and some weeks by Pastor Stephen. We are going to sing praises to God for who He is and in remembrance for all that He has done for us in Jesus. We will also spend a good amount of time in prayer together as a community, take communion together, and there will be an opportunity for us to joyfully give as a church to further His Gospel’s advancement in our city.
These times of worship will be very casual, and in many ways they will feel like a very large small group, or better yet, a larger family gathering.
A Time to Prepare
These next five weeks are a time for us to prepare. Not only to prepare for events, service projects, getting the word out about our launch and our first Sunday gathering as a church. But even more importantly, time for us to listen. Time for us to pepare our hearts to hear the voice of God. To come to a sobering realization that all of our efforts apart from Him are worthless in terms of building His Kingdom and bringing Him glory.
You guys, we desperately need God to move. We want Him to start a revival on our campus and in our city. This will not come from anyone’s personality, great websites, wonderful flyers, smiling faces, good music or any event that can possibly be put on. This only comes when His people have a complete dependance on Him and have a pure desire to cry out for Jesus to receive the full glory that is due to Him.
A Time to Pray and Fast
So, starting September 17th and ending on September 30th, we are going to enter into two weeks of guided prayer and fasting as a community. This is not a time for us to prove to God how serious we are, to bribe Him in any way or to make sure He answers our prayers.
It is a time for us to cut out some noisy things in our lives, or to deny ourselves in such ways that we create more space to hear the voice of God. I firmly believe this can be such an enriching time for us as a church, and I believe it is very needed for the life of our church.
My hope is that during these next four Sundays, we are so moved by God and His Gospel, that we move forward as a church with such confidence in His power and His compassion for OSU, Corvallis and the world. That we are sobered up and come to a deep realization for our desperate need of Him. That we realize He is the only one who can give life. That in and of ourselves we can produce no fruit for His glory. That is why I love our name so much. It is such a great and constant reminder.
So, if The Branch is your family, or you know that you want it to be, please come this Sunday as we worship together.
And may the next five weeks be such a formative time for us as we approach October 7th.
It amazes me how God can put desires in our heart, to where we own them, and it then becomes our desire. When I began the adventure of seminary in the bay area in January of 2007, I had not much of a clue in what manner God would have me serve Him. All I knew is that He was worthy of my life, and in my heart I knew I would be settling if I were to pursue any other vocation.
In my first semester, I was taking a course that was aimed at laying the foundation for our future ministry. One part of this course was to seek, pray and ultimately discover what our personal values were, and what it was that would “make our hearts sing” in ministry. I remember pouring much prayer and thought into those moments, and in those moments arose within me desire. Desire that I believed God had placed in my heart.
The interesting thing is that I didn’t think too much of that activity the rest of my days in seminary. To be honest, it was a fun-filled, busy time. I was a full-time husband, youth pastor, worship leader, Starbucks barista, student, friend, eventually dad, you get the idea. To think again and again about that process and arrival was not something that crossed my mind much, if at all.