Week of Prayer – New Name, Broadened Focus

Post a Comment » Written on December 11th, 2008     
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CHICAGO, IL (December 11, 2008) – The first week in January is not just another week in the life of the Covenant – it is set aside for the observance of a Week of Prayer in local congregations throughout the Evangelical Covenant Church – in North America and around the world.

“This special emphasis provides our churches not only an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God through prayer, but also to broaden our understanding of prayer and its central place in the life of the church,” says Doreen Olson, executive minister of the Department of Christian Formation that now administers prayer-related initiatives.

The Department of Church Growth and Evangelism previously handled these responsibilities as part of a Prayer Week theme. The new Week of Prayer resource reflects a refreshed format as well as a new perspective in thinking about the role of prayer in an individual’s life.

Covers“I’m aware that many Christians think of the devotional life with far too narrow a perspective,” Olson says. “In this week of prayer, we offer an experience in many forms of prayer.” Olson suggests that without a deepening of one’s inner life through prayer, “it will be difficult to sustain our missional focus on evangelism and ministries of compassion, mercy and justice.”

Content was written by Diana Trautwein, associate pastor at Montecito Covenant Church in Santa Barbara, California.

Distribution of the new Week of Prayer resource will also change from the pattern of years past, when bulk copies were routinely shipped to all churches for inclusion in worship bulletins or for use in other ways. Accurately assessing quantities needed for each church has proven a formidable task.

A mailing will go out this month to all local Covenant churches containing sample copies – churches can then order the quantity they desire through the online Covenant Bookstore. The resources are free, as is the shipping. Material is available in English, Spanish and Korean. Click here to order the materials online.

“We’ve always sought to be good stewards of the resources God has given us,” Olson notes. “It seems unwise to send out volumes of material when we’re unsure of its use. With this new approach, church leaders are in the driver’s seat and can order what they need at the time they need it. At the same time, we’re able to see what’s actually being used. That just seems like good stewardship.”

Olson also points out that some churches do not find the first week in January as the best fit in their local ministry calendar. She says the refreshed material is designed to be used anytime during the year that works best for the church.

Other prayer resources are also available through Christian Formation, including Invitation to Prayer, a guided retreat focusing on the fundamentals of prayer with extended time and space for God; Streams and Pathways, an experiential introduction to a variety of spiritual prayer practices sometimes referred to as spiritual disciplines; and Time to Breathe, a retreat to introduce youth to spiritual disciplines or practices. Each is led by a trained facilitator brought to a sponsoring church’s area upon request. Click here to learn more.

For those interested in extending the prayer focus for use by individuals and/or small groups anytime during the year, please see the Prayer That Focuses Life study guide (English and Spanish) available through Covenant Bookstore.

An additional opportunity for prayer will come in the spring with the Bringing My World to Christ evangelism emphasis administered by the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism. Materials will be mailed to churches in late March or early April.

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