We keep all sorts of records in the Church and get ministry reports from leaders of the various ministries. Hopefully we collect such data for a reason, like making an assessment to know where and how we need to improve, etc. But, before we even do that, what would happen if we took the actual records and laid them before the Lord?
Since “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16), it only makes sense that we first turn to the Lord about everything we do, which includes even record keeping in the Church. It doesn’t make sense to lean on our own understanding but rather to submit all our ways to Him as it comes with the promise that He’ll make our paths straight (Prov. 3:5-6).
What We Do When We Lay Our Records & Reports Before the Lord
When King Hezekiah of the Old Testament times received a letter of the tauntings of his enemies, he “went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD” (Isa. 37:14-15). Though it wasn’t the kind of records and reporting we’re talking about in this post, it does give us precedent for laying what’s in our hands before the Lord and seeking His help. As with Hezekiah’s prayer, so we too can approach the Lord with praise and adoration in acknowledgement of God’s supremacy (Isa. 37:16) and then petition Him to take heed to our situation or needs (Isa. 37:17-20).
- Of course, we should begin with praise to God for anything good the records reveal. But, even if everything our records and reports reveal isn’t good, there’s always something for which we can come before Him with praise, adoration, and thanksgiving. He’s still supreme and faithful, able to take anything and use it for the good (Rom. 8:28). We “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Ps. 100:4-5).
When we lay it before the Lord in acknowledgement of His role, we give testimony of Him and our hearts are reassured because we realize we have a God who “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” and so we say “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21).
- We might pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). That might lead to confession of our sins or seeking forgiveness for where these records and reports reveal we’ve failed (1 Jn. 1:9).
When we lay it before God for Him to reveal our faults and shortcomings, we won’t get wrapped up in false guilt over not having high enough numbers or other observable results. We’ll get in touch with what matters to Him and deal with what truly matters. That leads to renewal and redirection rather than a sense of condemnation and despair.
- More than likely our records and reports will point to gaps and needs. So, we make petition or supplication to God for the wisdom, power, and provisions needed to more fully pursue His purposes, design, and mission for His Church.
When we lay it before the Lord, we know that He sees and cares. We can trust Him and not be anxious as we present our requests to Him (Phil. 4:6-7). This leads to peace and perspective for what lies ahead.
- Perhaps our records will reveal areas where we have grown and can pass on what we’ve learned to others or where we have more resources than needed and can share from the overflow of God’s blessings with others. How important that this too is embedded with prayer, and we find ourselves interceding for the needs of others, asking God how He might want to use us as a result.
When we lay it all before the Lord, we might be surprised where it takes us. Records and reports no longer become a mere administrative duty or end in themselves.