Reaching Your City For Christ

By Francis Frangipane

We recently introduced you to our dear friend, Phil Miglioratti. You'll recall, Phil is a Baptist pastor, a member of the National Prayer Committee, and also the publisher of the National Pastors' Prayer Network (a consortium of six blog sites, www.nppn.org). If you are a pastor or ministry leader, you ought to pray about utilizing the wonderful resources God is providing to rebuild the Lord's house.

Pastor Phil is passionate about Christ-centered unity in the church and just as passionate about winning the lost to Christ. He coordinates the "Prayer-Care-Share" initiative of Loving Our Communities to Christ in seventeen cities across the United States (www.missionamerica.org, www.lc2c.blogspot.com).

This is the first of a two-part interview between Francis Frangipane and Phil Miglioratti.

Francis ~ Phil, how were you introduced to the pastors' prayer movement?

Phil ~ Before I knew there even was a movement of pastors praying together, I found myself inviting colleagues to my office to pray. A precursor to that was a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit in our small congregation that took us by storm and surprise! This revived our understanding of God (worship) and gave us a hunger for a deeper and immediate relationship with the Lord (prayer). The Lord gave me a pastor friend who mentored us as we took baby steps upward and forward; he suggested I needed to meet with other pastors for prayer. My invitation brought half a dozen or so together; we prayed weekly for several years, and that group continues with one of the original members! The prayer intensity of that pastors' prayer group allowed us to share personal and ministerial struggles. At one point, it was my refuge during a church conflict that had the potential of spinning me out of the ministry.


Francis ~ You began out of your own need, but God quickly gave you a larger vision . . .

Phil ~ True. The group met my need for a place to wade deeper into the waters of Spirit-led, corporate-bred praying and, thanks be to God, met an unexpected need of spiritual support during a crisis. As the crisis passed, the Lord gave me the sense that many (most?) pastors have similar needs: a safe place to experience the edification and fellowship of pastors as well as a place to express bigger prayers of hope for revival and awakening. In other words, if it was a such good thing for me, maybe other pastoral colleagues would also benefit from a weekly hour of prayer.

As the National Day of Prayer approached, I invited other pastors to join our "PPG" and our group of a half dozen swelled to over three dozen that day. The next year for NDP, we offered four gathering spots. Soon, we counted three or four dozen ongoing PPGs across the Chicago region, a result of my hunting for existing groups and challenging colleagues to begin one in their local area. It wasn't too long before the Lord had me view the map from a higher perspective; I went from having a vision for my city to our state and quickly the nation. He was calling me to serve the emerging movement of pastors' prayer groups and thus was born the National Pastors' Prayer Network.

Francis, this journey would not have taken place without your book, The House of the Lord, and your newsletter that I discovered while attending one of your conferences back then. The message of the book read like the story of my life in those days, especially the aspects of spiritual conflict. It gave me the hope from God that I needed to press forward to see his victory. And your work with pastors as you went from city to city became a model for me of how God wanted to connect his Church in cities and communities large and small. Your pioneer efforts laid a foundation for many of us who have been called into this movement. Much thanks!


Francis ~ Analyze the pastors' prayer movement; how are we doing?

Phil ~ It seems to me the pastors' prayer movement was a new alternative to the typical approach in most towns and cities, the ministerial. Ministerial groups are fine, but I have not seen in them an abandonment to prayer – intercession on behalf of the city. And it appears that commitment to prayer in PPGs produce stronger working relationships among the pastors and leaders praying together, which has led to the next phase of the movement. Most PPGs are now not only praying for the community but they are beginning to pray in the community, which is creating opportunities to pray with the community. Many PPGs pray with the mayor or police chief or on-site at a school. Outward focused praying has resulted in a vision and passion for community transformation. Also, pastors are beginning to recognize the strategic role of church members who have influence in the marketplace. Partnership, or at least mutual respect, is beginning to emerge in some of our cities.

Pastors experience in microcosm what the Lord wants them to produce in their congregation: prayer-forged relationships and prayer-driven ministry with an outward focus. No more holy huddle-only prayers.


Francis ~ What mistakes or missteps have been made along the way?

Phil ~ I think the enthusiasm over the blessing of praying together (whether in weekly groups or annual 3-4 day retreats) caused many groups to be keepers of the flame rather than spreaders of the fire. As the movement has matured, we have recognized the need to affirm and deploy believers into their sphere of influence with a missional mindset, but that took time. Frankly, some leaders, in their efforts to build networking and collaboration among the Body of Christ, have been exasperated by the pastors – too busy to make it their priority but too controlling to release the ministry to their pew-sitting members (many of whom are very skilled and highly recognized in the community). We pastors also suffer from programitis. We decry them but quickly default to them when a new initiative of praying for the lost or caring for community needs or, especially, sharing the good news of Christ is adopted.


Francis ~ As you know, we have just updated and revised my book from 1991, The House of the Lord. It’s now under the title When the Many Are One, published by Charisma House. By the way, thank you for your endorsement! Where can readers find other resources that help build community or citywide prayer among pastors?

Phil ~ As the movement of pastors' prayer groups and community transformation develops, new resources are being written and new strategies are being unfolded. Here are a few "portals" to check out; they'll lead you to many other sites and sources.

* www.CityReaching.com - City Impact Roundtable, scores of city movements across the US
* www.NPPN.org - a directory of PPGs, articles for PPGs, interviews, etc.
* www.LC2C.blogspot.com - prayer-care-share stories and strategies, coaching insights, new perspectives on how to share the gospel
* www.flministries.org/pub.htm - Tom White's book, City-Wide Prayer Movements
* www.servethecity.org - a coalition of congregations and ministries who bring resources together to serve the city and demonstrate the love of Christ
* www.missionamerica.org - an unprecedented Coalition of Christian leaders who have prayerfully come together to mobilize the Church for praying, caring and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in deed and word
* IV Press - Mac Pier & Katie Sweeting's The Power of a City at Prayer
* Issue #67 of Pray! magazine: What Happens When We Pray For Our Cities?
* PrayerShop Bookstore - has resources on all aspects of prayer and praying

Francis ~ Phil, would you pray for the pastors of our nation?

Phil ~ Father, download your heart for the communities and towns we live in, deep into the DNA of every pastor and leader so that, we too, like our Lord Jesus, cannot help but weep over the city. Jesus, call us together in prayer across boundaries of ethnicity or denomination or generation; prayer for each other and one another's congregations, of course, but also prayers of big hope for the people, places and things of where we live and serve. Holy Spirit of God, empower and embolden us to lead our congregations in praying for the lost to be found, in caring for those with names and needs in our neighborhoods, and in new ways to show and tell the glorious old gospel of Jesus Christ. Transform our praying by the renewing of our minds. Amen.


For those interested in building unity in their cities, "The House of the Lord" now under the title, "When the Many Are One", is available at www.arrowbookstore.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please feel free to forward this message to others; acknowledging our web site would be kindly appreciated.

Reprint Agreement
Your interest in duplicating and re-sending this material is a joy to us. We only ask that you also provide website information for the Ministries of Francis Frangipane. The only exception is if the article is actually an excerpt from a book by another publisher. In this case they have asked that they be listed as the reference. Finally, any questions about the teachings of Francis Frangipane can be sent to info@frangipane.org. God bless your pursuit of His heart.

The Land Beneath Our Feet

By Francis Frangipane

As a speaker in citywide and regional prayer conferences, I am often asked to unmask the "spiritual power" opposing the body of Christ in the conference region. City leaders and intercessors have even asked if I knew the "name" of the principle spirit that is resisting the church in their area.

"Do you want to know the name of the most powerful spirit opposing most Christians?" I ask. Eager faces respond affirmatively.

"It’s Yahweh."

My questioners, who suddenly look like a tree full of owls, are always bewildered by my answer. They are sure I misunderstood their question. Then, I explain. I remind them that, according to the Scriptures, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). So, if we are divided in our hearts from other churches, if we instinctively look down on other Christians or if we are at all self-promoting in attitude, we are walking in pride. As such, the Spirit that stands to resist our endeavors is not demonic; it’s God.

The Lord will not excuse our pride just because we sing three hymns on Sunday and consider ourselves "saved." God resisted Lucifer’s pride in heaven and He will oppose our pride on earth. What is most sad is, religious pride has been so homogenized into our Christian experience that we don’t even perceive it as being wrong. Yet it is without doubt the most offensive blight upon God’s people.

The Lord does not want the lost added to churches where they must assimilate the poison of pride at the same table as salvation.

The One Who Seeks and Judges
Jesus said of Himself, "I do not seek My glory." Yet, how many of our actions are expended doing the exact opposite of the nature of Christ! Our choice of clothes and cars, homes and roles in life so often have self-exaltation working in the background. Jesus continued, "there is One who seeks and judges" (John 8:50). Listen carefully to His words, for every time we seek to exalt ourselves we run face to face with God. One dimension of the Father’s heart is that He "seeks [glory] and judges" those who, through pride, exalt themselves. Indeed, my friends, consider with godly fear our American tradition of self-promotion. Though it is highly esteemed among men, it is actually "detestable in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).

The Old Testament is replete with examples documenting the Almighty’s opposition to man’s pride. Time after time it was not Israel’s enemies that thwarted national prosperity; it was God. From generation to generation, the Lord allowed Israel’s adversaries to humble His people, to drive them toward desperation, humility and finally repentance. There, in brokenness and honesty, God could deal with their sins and finally lead them into national revival.

Listen how the Lord pleaded with Israel: "Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would quickly subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries" (Ps. 81:13–14).

So also with us. We need the might of God to be unleashed against our foes. For truly, terrible powers of darkness have invaded our land, and our adversary stalks our streets seeking whom he may devour. Our hope, however, is not merely in confronting the enemy, but in allowing God to confront us. Our victory over the enemy is directly attached to our full surrender to God.

If we truly learned of Him, we too would be "meek and lowly in heart" (Matt. 11:29 KJV). And God, who gives grace to the humble, would rescue us from the spiritual enemies of our nation.

Heal Our Land
The promise of the Lord is familiar. He says, "If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14). You say, But I’m humbling myself and praying. Yes, but our humility to God is not complete until we learn to humble ourselves to one another.

The fact is, because of pride, we have yet to accept what the Lord means in His words, "If My people." We still interpret His phrase "My people" to mean "our people"---our limited circle of friends, relatives and Christians whose culture or style of worship is, more or less, like our own.

However, when the Lord thinks of His people, He sees a more expansive group. He includes all who have been born again in a city. All of us who "are called by [His] name," though we are diverse in gifts and assignments, must find unity of spirit before Him. And this begins with an amazing strategy: we must humble ourselves.

I know this goes against the grain of our historic church relationships. Satan has not only divided us from others, he has made us proud that we are separate. We think being separate is a virtue. But consider: only one group of people consistently found the Lord confronting and resisting them in the New Testament: the Pharisees. Literally translated, the word "Pharisee" meant "the separate." Of all the religious groups in the first century, it is the pride of the Pharisees that, today, the church most resembles.

We pray, "Lord, heal our land." But the land He intends to heal first is that which exists beneath the feet of the humble. It is the world of the praying meek, who find the transforming power of God as their companion.

The Lord’s remedy for our society is hidden within the life-relationships of Christians. We are always so mindful of what others have done wrong to us, but where have we failed others? What can we do to heal the land that exists between us and those whom we have hurt?

You see, as we become those who "humble themselves and pray" about what we have done wrong, healing from God begins to flow. When white Christians humble themselves and ask for forgiveness from African and Native Americans, God begins to heal the land under their feet.

If God resists the proud, remember also, He gives grace to the humble. Grace is more than being covered; it is being cleansed and changed by the power of God. Grace is God’s transforming power doing in us what we cannot do for ourselves.

When we pray, "heal our land," it is the land beneath the feet of the humble that God promises to touch and restore to blessedness.

Let’s pray: Dear Father, You said the healing of our land begins with the humbling of ourselves. Master, reveal to my heart those with whom I am estranged. Grant me courage to forgive and honesty to see where I contributed to the strife. I long to be an ambassador of reconciliation. Therefore, lead me to bring healing to the relationships in our world, and so bring healing to the land in which I dwell. In Jesus’ name. Amen


This message is taken from our In Christ's Image Training school curriculum.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please feel free to forward this message to others; acknowledging our web site would be kindly appreciated.

Reprint Agreement
Your interest in duplicating and re-sending this material is a joy to us. We only ask that you also provide website information for the Ministries of Francis Frangipane. The only exception is if the article is actually an excerpt from a book by another publisher. In this case they have asked that they be listed as the reference. Finally, any questions about the teachings of Francis Frangipane can be sent to info@frangipane.org. God bless your pursuit of His heart.