A few years ago, I coauthored a book entitled The Wholehearted Church Planter: Leadership from the Inside Out.
The general thesis of this book is that almost anyone can plant some kind of church if they know and love God, know and love people, and appropriately know and love self. Writing on knowing and loving people, I reference Harry Emerson Fosdick, author of the old classic The Meaning of Prayer.
In his book, Fosdick wrote of a concept he called “the prayer of dominant desire.”
Prayer of Dominant Desire
A prayer of dominant desire is the kind of prayer that grabs one’s heart, mind, soul and strength and won’t let go. It is akin to James’s fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous person (James 5:16). This kind of prayer feels as though it has a life of its own—You think, dream, feel, want this thing so much that your life is wrapped around its coming to be.[Tweet “A prayer of dominant desire is the kind of prayer that grabs one’s heart, mind, soul and strength.”]
Church planters who are learning to know and love the people to whom God has called them pray for those people and their communities.
Their prayers begin to reflect a dominant desire of their hearts. It doesn’t always mean long times of isolated, solitary prayer, extended prayer retreats, or long times of fasting, although it could. These forms of deep prayer are exemplary ways of bringing the desires of our hearts before the Father.
Research as a Form of Meditation
With the more traditional forms of deep prayer acknowledged, let me admit, however, that prayers of dominant desire often work a little differently for me. In my own life, deep church planting prayer sometimes starts with research. God knows me in my innermost being, and He knows exactly how to motivate me to pray.
Research points me towards reflecting, points me towards caring, points me towards writing down my thoughts, points me towards action of some kind. As I research, reflect, think and write, my heart is flooded with compassion and a deep desire to see God work.[Tweet “”Deep church planting prayer sometimes starts with research” @sfwoman”]
I research various refugee groups, the research grabs my soul, becomes prayer, and I end up starting ministries or churches. I fervently research local Muslim groups, beseeching God to show me where various peoples live, and then I discover a new mosque where I can form new friendships.
A few years ago, I was asked to research prison populations and ended up teaching church planting in a prison. Some of those students were released from prison and are now engaged in helping to start new churches. In each case, the act of research (knowing) motivated me to pray, which resulted in God’s lining up friendship and ministry opportunities (loving).
A Question to Ponder
How does God bring forth those fervent, effectual prayers of dominant desire in your life as you engage church starting?