Two weeks ago, we had the joy of meeting with leaders heading up church-prayer-unity networks in 15 cities/towns of the North Island of N.Z.
As those present worshipped, shared their ‘city stories’ and prayed for one another it was great to witness the rising tide of expectancy and faith - that as we unite in worship, work, prayer, believing - God will draw near our cities and towns with His shalom and manifest presence. Below are some things that will help prepare the way.
1. Corporate Worship and Prayer.
His manifest presence comes when we centre our hearts on Jesus in worship. Ps. 22:3, “But You are holy who inhabit, dwell in, are enthroned in, the praises of Israel”. James 4:8 “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Let’s build an altar of worship and prayer in our city – a place for the Presence.
2. Prioritising Relationships
As has been said – ‘love determines the manifest presence of God’. 1Peter 4:8 “Above all have fervent love for one another ..”. Deal with offences. ‘Unity is not passive assent but actively refusing to be offended’ –Ruth Rubial. Love the whole born-again church of the city. It takes the city-wide church to win a city-wide war.
3. Hearing and Obeying. God gives His Spirit to those who obey. Acts 5:32. “He that has an ear to hear (and obey) let him hear what the spirit says to the churches”. Prov. 8:1 says that wisdom takes her stand at the high place and cries out from the entrance to the city.
4. Caring for the Poor and Needy. This will help bring His presence. Isaiah 58 says that when we undo heavy burdens and share our bread with the hungry, then our light shall break forth like the morning.
5. Honouring and Serving Civic Leaders. There are two combination locks that will help release His presence and blessing into our cities. One is spiritual leadership, the other is civic leadership (Romans 13). As the spiritual leaders connect with, honour and serve civic leaders our cities will be further on the pathway of God’s blessing.
6. Servant-hood and Humility. Jesus took the towel when others would not. Jesus came into the city on a donkey! He comes when we live at the foot of the cross. James 4:7. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”.
7. Faith. Manifest presence comes as we trust Him and believe His word. Mary said to the angel “be it unto me according to your word”. Just as the Holy Spirit hovered over Mary to bring forth the Christ-child so the Holy Spirit hovers over our city to bring to birth and grow a united church, the body of Christ in that place. Persevering faith is essential.
8. Finally and most important - Leadership. His manifest presence is established where there is good leadership and good government, whether it be in our families, our local church or the city church. Good servant-hearted leadership gathers –unites – promotes vision, in order that God may dwell, bring shalom and command a blessing on our cities and towns.