Wow. It’s 3:34pm and I’m still in awe (and almost in tears) over the awesome thing God did in our Prayer service at Willow Creek Chicago today. This was our second Prayer service and was immeasurably more powerful than the first!
In the prayer service, we center the entire service time around worship and prayer. In our service today we prayed for many things, but the way in which we reached out to God was soooo powerful. To give some context, my church is somewhat on the conservative side. By that I mean most people aren’t likely to lift their hands in worship or do much in an outward expression of their worship experience. However today I saw some powerful things throughout the congregation. During a special time of prayer for personal healing we asked those who needed prayer to please stand – we thought many would be apprehensive about “standing out” in the service. To take it a step further, we asked the rest of the congregation — if they were comfortable with it — to do the biblical practice of laying hands and pray for those who stood. As one of our powerful prayer warriors — Kyella — came forth to pray I was in awe at what I saw next. In a room of around 1,000 people I saw people everywhere circled around individuals praying for them. The power of this moment was magnified by the fact that our church draws a diverse section of Chicagoans – people from every age group, ethnic, and socio-economic background. From the main floor to the balcony men women and even children were interceding on behalf of one another.
Proceeding that powerful moment of prayer I was part of another prayer in which several people representing different groups prayed. This prayer included sign language, prayers in Romanian, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and most touching to me was a prayer from Juan, a blind member of our congregation. Juan prayed a simple but powerful prayer that our church be a church for people who are different and that they can be loved here. Indeed that has been my experience – I am different – but I am loved! The Willow Chicago church is different from the other Willow churches but indeed God is doing something GREAT in this place!
I could go on and on, but today was such a powerful experience of Worship in our congregation – the power of what God did was evident in how our service closed. Our final song was “Presence of the Lord” — a song we’ve never sung in our church before. You never would have known it the way the church went up in praise — people clapping, smiling, yelling out, dancing, hands lifted — all over the congregation! It was a beautiful sight to behold. I truly believe God is doing something dynamic in how he’s transforming our services bit by bit. I’m watching people grow in new levels of Worship… I’m seeing people put their faith to work in their communities… I’m part of a body that is loving everyone in whatever state they are in and seeing people commit their lives to following Christ!