Our Prayer

Like many modern organisations, churches often have some kind of vision or mission statement - a short summary of what they hope to achieve, what they’re aiming for. It’s a slogan, intended to help motivate and focus their congregation on a common purpose.

At our AGM we adopted an alternative idea: not a vision statement, but a prayer. A prayer recognises that ultimately what happens at St Peter’s is not the consequence of our vision, strategy, commitment or labours, but of God’s goodness to us. It still expresses our hopes for our church, but couches it in a way that keeps our perspective anchored on God.

What follows is an exploration of this prayer, drawing out its assumptions and aspirations, so that we as a church share a common understanding.

As God’s children –
    Shaped by the Bible
    Saved by Christ
    Known by the Father
    Made new by the Spirit –
We seek to
    Know him more
    Trust him more
    Obey him more
    Glorify him more
All under his sovereign hand, as we await his Son’s return.

The first thing to observe is structural - there are two large chunks, representing our identity and purpose respectively, the ‘who we are’ and the ‘what we pray’. In itself, this is a key part of understanding the whole thing. Our goal at St Peter’s is to live out our identity as children of God.

It’s like any family; we share the same history, the same hopes and dreams, the same challenges. Nobody joins a family intending to stand apart from it!

But note also where the authority lies: we are God’s children, who seek to obey him. We live our lives under his (sovereign) authority - but it’s a loving authority under his hand, not his fist.

The first half unpacks our identity as God’s children in four key respects.

To begin with, we are shaped by God’s Word; just as it was the Word that created the world, it’s his Word that recreates us as we hear him speak to us through it. The message we hear is of the cross, the death Jesus underwent in order to save us from the consequences of our own failings.

Both of these, to a certain extent, are available to all. That God knew us and chose us before the beginning of time, however, is deeply personal and individual. Similarly, without having been made new by his Spirit, we would remain dead to him.

Together, however, these four mean that we are adopted into God’s family; furthermore, they describe how he continues to grow us as his children.

The second half of this prayer outlines our aspirations, what we hope for as a community of God’s people. These things are beyond us - hence such prayer is essential - but are certainly not beyond God’s reach.

The four elements are sequential, and build upon each other. As we come to know God more, we recognise how worthy of our trust he is. As our trust in him grows, we will obey his commands more consistently. And as our obedience grows, our acts of service will reflect on the God who enables them, bringing him glory as the world sees him at work through us.

We will never finish growing in these areas. This is our task, on this earth, for our lifetime. We do not hope to ‘pay God back’! We are simply growing into the fullness of the kingdom that Jesus’ return will establish forever.

The things we seek are also consequential: each flows from its respective element in the first group of four. The Bible that shapes us enables us to know God more; our assurance of salvation strengthens our faith; the privilege of being chosen by God motivates us to live as citizens of his kingdom; the renewing work of the Holy Spirit enables us to succeed in that, bringing honour to God.

And finally, these are also cyclical. Our waiting provides the time for us to grow in our identity and our activity. As the Spirit keeps remaking us, we are further shaped by God’s Word, affirmed in our assurance, and deepened in our relationship with God. As we continue to glorify him, our knowledge, trust and obedience will continue to develop.

Such is the nature of God’s work in us, and our work in him.

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