Merced County Times Newspaper
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Life Place Church hosts community prayer gathering

Pastor Bob Allen of Life Place Church in Merced hosted the Community Church Prayer & Worship Gathering on Aug. 4.
Pastor Bob Allen of Life Place Church in Merced hosted the Community Church Prayer & Worship Gathering on Aug. 4.

A Community Church Prayer & Worship Gathering took place on the evening of Aug. 4 at Life Place Church, located at 2740 N. Highway 59 in Merced.

The gathering was attended by more than 50 churchgoers from local churches and was an inspiring study on The Lord’s Prayer, featuring six pastors/spiritual leaders explaining the prayer, verse by verse.

This type of prayer service, put together by pastors and leaders of churches and Christian organizations in the community, began several years ago during the worst days of the drought when it was determined that the emergency nature of the situation would be best addressed through the prayerful focus of the entire Christian community.

Al Schaap, Pastor of Gateway Community Church in Merced, thought of the idea of extending the services to include prayer for other spiritual concerns besides the drought. The services began to take place on Sunday evenings in every month that had a fifth Sunday.

More recently, the community prayer services have been held on other Sunday evenings than the fifth Sunday because one of the churches had specific special events on the fifth Sunday, and that posed a calendar conflict making it impossible for them to attend.

During the service, after the attendees listened to outstanding musicians playing Christian music, Pastor Bob Allen of Life Place Church opened the prayer gathering, saying, “We are a part of the great, big body of Christ throughout the Merced area.  I’ve been thrilled that we can gather . . . we are one in Christ . . . one God, one church.”

Pastor Allen expressed sorrow about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, and elsewhere, calling out, “Enough!  We’re going to claim this country for Jesus.”

He said, solemnly, “The theme tonight is The Lord’s Prayer.  There are some points of that prayer that will be brought out by different pastors.”

Ron Croft, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Merced:
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”

Pastor Croft marveled at the wonder of being able to call God our Father — a Father who delights in the love of His children, and who tenderly cares for us.

He said, “When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He said, ‘We are going to God, the one who cares for us like no one else can.’”

Pastor Croft explained that “hallowed” means holy, and concluded, “We know that God is set apart, yet He is intricately involved in our lives.”

He then prayed for the community to be involved in prayer for others and in sharing God’s love.

Monika Grasley, leader at Life Line CDC in Winton:
“May Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Grasley explained that the kingdom of God is present precisely at the “thin places” where “the ordinary and sacred collide”.

She said, “We get to help God’s kingdom come and His will to be done.”

She prayed for God’s people to step up and “create thin places” and to “be bold and stand up for what is right in your eyes.”

Annette Macias, Director of Love, INC.:
“Give us this day our daily bread.”

She prayed, “You give us bread enough for each day, just like the Israelites in the wilderness.”

The “bread” is not only food to satisfy our physical needs, but spiritual bread, the grace of God.

Debbie Croft, Director of Alpha Pregnancy Help Center:
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

She explained, “As His children, with His Holy Spirit within us, he calls us to act with His same divine qualities and live and love as He does with the same compassion and mercy that He gives.”

Pastor Bob Allen of Life Place Church:
“and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Pastor Allen emphasized that neither Christ nor the Father lead us into temptation, and the actual sense of this verse is “don’t let us yield to temptation” or “don’t let us be led into temptation.”

He prayed, “We are all a target.  Don’t let Satan get to us.  Put a hedge around us.”

Pastor Greg Boyd of Calvary Chapel:
“For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever.”

Pastor Boyd explained that in the Bible, we are asked to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength because “thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory.”

Describing the acknowledgment and acceptance of God’s eternal greatness and goodness to our benefit, he said, “This has been a model prayer for the church for almost 2,000 years. We focus on it to remind us of how Jesus taught us to pray.”

After the pastors and leaders spoke, those attending broke into small groups to pray for each other’s needs and concerns.

The service was followed by a delicious potluck dinner and fellowship.

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