What comes to mind when you think of getting ready for Easter?
Pastel outfits? Big hats? Boiled eggs? Chocolate bunnies? Cascarones?
Having been in ministry for several years now, I tend to think more about song setlists, lighting, graphics, and rehearsal more than any of those things mentioned above.
Believe me when I say that here at the Austin Stone, we do care deeply about all of those things—especially because, if planning and production are done well, they can remove distractions, stir affection for, and draw attention to Jesus! Tweet This
While we have planned, prepared, and made adjustments for Sunday, we also value making sure to prepare our own hearts for what is coming.
We know some of the many things God has done in the past through worship gatherings on Easter weekend, and this year is no different—we expect that He will do great things again this weekend!
We spent our Austin Stone Worship staff huddle on Wednesday morning in a time of worship and prayer for our own hearts as well as the people we will invite and for the ones who will just walk through the doors this coming Sunday.
Chris Collins, the Director of Worship, led us through this prayer time using some points from the very familiar (dare I say, too familiar) verse John 3:16. He pointed out that we usually view this verse in an external way but very rarely to we examine and process it in an internal way.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The verse can be broken down into three parts. We spent about 5-10 mins on each part, in complete silence (no mood music like we normally do for prayer or reflection times), and on our knees or lying face down. Obviously you could do this however you felt led to do it.
I would love to walk you through the individual parts as actual prayer points, the way we used them, in case they can be useful to you in preparing your own heart.
- For God so loved the world: Use this time for prayers of adoration and thanksgiving. Our realization was that none of the work we do is primarily because of our genuine love for people or even out of a love for God. Simply put, we love because He first loved us. The verse says, “God so loved the world.” Our reality is that He made a way for us and others. How amazing that He even called us into this work of Kingdom building in the first place. Take some time to dwell on the goodness of God, and to thank Him for His grace in calling you, and then thank God for His love for you and others.
- He gave His only Son: Use this time for prayers of confession. How often do we miss God’s provision? This section of the verse starts, “He [God] gave…” God is our provider. We shouldn’t worry about where our help comes from. If we finish the sentence, we see what God gave–”His only Son.” Often we turn our eyes away from the glory of Jesus, the only Son of God, freely given to us to take our sins away and bring us abundant life. Take some time to confess your unbelief in the perfect provision of God in Jesus. Ask Him to fix your eyes on heaven and your heart on the resurrected Jesus.
- Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life: Use this time for prayers of supplication. Obviously there is a difference between just believing and believing in a way that means we won’t parish but have eternal life. We can know this because the scriptures say that even “the demons believe,” yet we know they don’t have eternal life. There is a belief that is synonymous with faith, a belief that comes from a hope revealed to us from the Holy Spirit. Tweet This Sometimes we lose sight of this and live like it isn’t true. Often, it means we aren’t praying for others to know this hope, and we probably aren’t sharing this hope either. Take some time to ask for God to renew your faith in Him and to give others the faith to believe in Him for the first time.
We wrapped up this time by singing together. Let me just say that there is something so amazing about sitting in extended silence and getting on your knees or laying on your face alongside your brothers and sisters who are also in leadership while in the very room where you will be leading the upcoming Sunday. These moments are why our team is so special. I firmly believe that these are the times, in prayer, where we do the most effective thing we can do for our people.
I am beyond thankful for a team that not only calls us to pray and invite people into a relationship with Jesus all year round, but really values this kind of Christ-focused and mission-driven preparation for Easter Sunday–a time that can easily become about attendance numbers and entertainment value in the services.
Here is my hope for you—that you do not let another Easter go by where the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus seems like just another ordinary thing. Tweet This
Marvel at it. Dwell on it. Thank God for it!
Happy Easter from The Wigintons!