Fall Alpha 2019 (October 15th - December 3rd) was incredible! It included twenty four weeks of prayer, eight weeks of Alpha classes, a prayer and worship night to kick it all off, and one weekend retreat to Stillwood Camp. I can think of no better way to describe God's amazing work in Alpha than to use the lens of Alpha prayer. I pray you might look through it and see God’s grace, and some of the amazing work done by the Holy Spirit.
First, the scale. Let me give you a picture of the army the Lord assembled for Alpha prayer: there were 81 people in 24x7 prayer (people from inside and outside Westside), 12 people in intercessory prayer, 58 people in corporate prayer, 41 Alpha table leaders, 6 Alpha Core Leaders and 24 staff members & elders praying. This is just what we know of through sign ups, but many more were praying informally as well.
Second, the process. Both praise reports and prayer requests were submitted weekly. Throughout church history, the Lord’s prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13, has served as a guide for prayer. This is what we used to guide Alpha Prayer. You can see how we did this in the section at the end of this blog called “Alpha Prayer Process”. Praying this way was training in seeking the things that Jesus sought and trying to see things the way Jesus saw them.
Third, answered prayer! There were so many specific petitions resulting in answered prayer, and so many hearts singing with the joy of praise. Each prayer could be an encouraging story in a blog post of its own. However, as a summary, here are some of the larger categorical prayers we prayed with a small and somewhat statistical window into the Lord's work.
(*The numbers referenced are real people and can only imperfectly hint at the Lord's work.)
Lord, empower our Church to invite people to Alpha!
Over 70 people started at Alpha on night 1, which is up 20 people from any previous Alpha. At least five people in the Westside body attended just to be a presence at the table with a friend, co-worker or family member they had invited that did not know Jesus.
Jesus, draw the lost!
At least 20 people did not identify as Christians, and another 25 identified as having become complacent in their faith or struggling with unbelief. We are so thankful for the Lord drawing those that do not know Him, or have lost sight of Him.
Father, guard and keep them!
It was amazing to see the large majority of people that started in the course come consistently right until the end, despite rain and many other obstacles individuals were encountering that we prayed through.
Father, we ask for 50 people to attend the alpha retreat! We hold fast to this in faith!
Building enough trust at Alpha for people to go away for a weekend in just six weeks is really miraculous. In past Alphas we have had just over 40 people. At the start of the final week before the Alpha Retreat, we were going to fall well short of the 50 people we asked for. Then, in the final week, 27 people signed up, and we ended up with 60 total people at the Alpha Retreat!
Holy Spirit, soften their heart and help them surrender to you!
We know of 6 people that gave their life to Jesus through Alpha—people who now have a personal relationship with Christ and the hope and freedom that comes along with that. They are now children of God and we are so so thankful, to have the privilege of welcoming them into our church family. We know of 13 who have had a resurgence of faith or rekindling of their desire to follow Jesus. Praise God for his salvation!
Jesus, don’t let the seed of truth you have planted be eaten by the crows, or choked by the thorns!
Many that finished the course that identified as “still seeking” are attending on Sundays and/or are continuing in relationship with their table leaders. Encouragingly, almost half the people that attended Alpha have signed up for the Foundations class, hungry to learn more about Jesus and the Bible.
Though the Alpha prayer initiatives have ended, I know that I, and many of those who have been through this last Alpha, cannot stop praying. We have tasted and seen the goodness of our Lord and Saviour and have felt him draw near to us as we drew near to him in prayer. Our God has so much more in store and will never stop pursuing. Praise God for his lessons to us on how to pray, on developing our faith, on drawing us closer to Him and teaching us to love. He is gentle, merciful, patient, and gives us grace upon grace. All glory be to Christ our king!
After one final night of worship, prayer and retrospect as a team on February 4th, those who participated in Alpha will look ahead to Spring Alpha beginning in April. I encourage you to pray about who you might invite to Alpha or whether you might get involved.
Specific petitions and praise from the team were grouped into the categories below:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.”
The PERSON of God
Like Jesus, we begin our prayer for Alpha, for us at Westside church and for the Church itself, by focusing on the person of God. There is no better way to begin a time of prayer than to praise God for His incomprehensible character – goodness, love, kindness, mercy, holiness, etc. This appropriately takes our gaze from ourselves and focuses it on God. In doing so, we enter into His presence with awe and humility.
“Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”
The PURPOSES of God
Next, like Jesus, we pray for God’s kingdom to be manifest in Alpha, in us at Westside church and in the Church. Taking time to pray in this way aligns our hearts to God’s purposes for our lives and the world. We are to be the vehicles bringing about His purpose and will, not the reverse. His purpose is to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory. In fact, that’s why He made us – so we can see and delight in His greatness. When we pray for His will, we are also praying for the things that will bring us the greatest joy.
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
The PROVISION of God
Along with Jesus, we pray for “daily bread” for Alpha, for us at Westside church and for the Church. In asking God for “daily bread” we ask Him to provide for all our needs: spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, material, etc. We acknowledge in doing so that He is the Source of everything we need and that we are utterly dependent on Him.
“And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.”
The PARDON of God
As sinful people, we pray for Pardon for Alpha, for us at Westside church and for the Church. It is essential that in our times of prayer, we deal with the specific sin in our lives since sin hinders our prayers (Psalm 66:18), and ask for forgiveness. Experiencing cleansing from our sin is vital to maintaining our close fellowship with God.
“And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.”
The PROTECTION of God
Lastly, like Jesus, we pray for protection from temptation and the author of it – Satan. There is a great spiritual war that is raging. We, Christians are in the middle of it and must never lose sight of this fact of our need for protection in the battle for Alpha, for us at Westside church and for the Church.