Phil Miglioratti - "Prayer Network"
4:29AM Jul 9, 2020
Jonathan J. Armstrong
Today it's our delight to be speaking with Phil Miglioratti. Phil Miglioratti is an advocate for prayer in many venues and the coordinator for pray dot network. Phil, thank you so much for joining us today.
Jonathan, thank you for this invitation and for the opportunity to share a few thoughts on prayer.
Phil, we understand from one of the sites that you manage, pray for surf that you're an avid Beach Boys fan, is that correct?
Well, it is. And, you know, it's something I just love their music since early 60s. You know, I grew up with them kind of thing. And early on, I felt and this is true, I actually felt a concern. Do I enjoy this too much? And so I kind of made a deal with God. I'm not saying he had anything to do with it, but my deal with him was if you let me enjoy this music, I'll pray for For these guys, and long story short, I mean long story meaning, you know, over 50 years later, I've had the opportunity to certainly pray for them but pray with some of them over the phone backstage at different concerts, that band member who happens to be a Christian and included him in one of my podcasts there. And, and so I won't go further other than to say, you know, God kind of winked at me and said, okay, have some fun with this, but, you know, be one of the persons that intercedes for these guys. And I take no credit in this but just as an example of how God might have been acting, one of the leaders of the beach was a guy named Brian Wilson has many people know he has a song that most people don't know called walking down the path of life, which is a kind of rock him that you could play in any of our churches on a Sunday morning. It's about confession to God and inviting God into his life. Again, I'm taking no credit for that, but it did come after I had an opportunity to pray with him and hand him a Bible. So You know, but they grew up in church. And so hopefully the presence of the Lord is true and real in their lives, some of them at least,
praise God. And what a fascinating view into the way that as we pursue prayer and a life of prayer, God will uncover surprising things he always does. Fill you advocate for prayer across a whole spectrum whole bevy of social media platforms. you tweet avidly you blog at church leaders calm discipleship network dot n i n g.com. On pray network, and an img.com on pray for surf.blogspot.com Would you please share with us about your ministry of prayer in this social media space?
Thank you, Jonathan. That's kind of that's developed really over the last 20 years. Getting in a little bit early on the internet stuff. started something called the National Esther's current network which is embodied in another place called Phil's blog, dotnet, Till's blog dotnet and just over the years proliferated based on different full size or focal points and what's happening now with with me with the Lord is, is not having me remove any of them but kind of focus if I could just give you one word that would be a focus objective it would be to use the hashtag language of Twitter, hashtag reimagine prayer. That's also another site, reimagined discipleship, hashtag reimagine church. And the call I feel comes from Romans 12. Two Do you mind if I spend a minute us explaining how that is impacting at least my perception and Ministry of prayer at Romans 12 two, this comes from the passion translation. Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you. But the mo inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation reformation of how you think this will empower you to discern God's Will as you live a beautiful life satisfying and perfect in his eyes. And as I began to be drawn more and more into Romans 12, two as if the Lord was saying, don't just think of this as your personal life, and don't just think of the culture as the worldly culture that, you know, we have to discern, we have to be careful of we can't get drawn into it, it leads to death and darkness. And so I've kind of got a paraphrase that comes like this. Stop imitating the ideas and opinions or traditions of the church culture around you, doesn't mean the church is bad. It's simply to me that means reimagine prayer. The Holy Spirit is wanting to open us I think up to some, you know, that no one knows everything about prayer, but also we're changing and there's a whole other conversation, Jonathan, but we're changing from the industrial age to the digital age, the technology logical age. And you say, well, should that make you change how you pray? Maybe. So all I'm saying with this first part is be open to not throwing your traditions away, certainly not throwing our theology of prayer away, but to letting God give us maybe some fresh music just to go on quickly. So be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit. To me, that's, that's the secret of prayer. We might talk about that later. The Holy Spirit is kind of been left out of prayer. We could talk about that. But be transformed through a total reformation of how you think about prayer, not just how you think about the world, but how you think about prayer. This will empower you to discern God's Will as you live a beautiful life of prayer, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. So don't mean to do a sermon on you, but that that's really the platform God has me on and so my, I'm not prophetic, but a pastor all my life. I'm a facilitator. I try to bring other people together to convene them for their ideas, but in terms of prayer, the trumpet calls I would love God to give out a little bit through me is to say reimagine prayer, by the Holy Spirit into scripture, to pray God's things that maybe we've not thought of before.
reimagine prayer, what a calling this is. And you've also alluded to the fact that we're entering or are squarely in a new age. This is a post Industrial Age context. We're in an information age, a digital age. How might technology be used to foster this new way of prayer that you're calling us to reimagine?
Yes, some of your listeners are way ahead of me even on this maybe that proves that they're younger and you know, just live by technology much more than maybe some of us older folks do but but technology is really accessible to all of us, regardless of our age. And, and there are so many apps that are available that remind you to pray. There's even if you just take a smartphone, I have an iPhone, using reminders that You know, I'd like to believe that I'm praying without ceasing through the day. But I find that when these reminders pop up back to pray for surf idea at 409 every day, a reminder comes up on my phone to pray for the Beach Boys. 409 was one of their songs you probably much too young didn't ever heard it, Jonathan. But anyway, it's just a correlation of time and topic. But those kinds of things can be done by anyone who has any kind of a smartphone that it's as simple as that. But there's also, you know, texting groups, and again, apps and prayer sites and prayer groups and churches. And, in fact, there's so much out there, it can be confusing to people. But hopefully, individuals will find something that works for them to help them not just praying more of the same kind of prayers, forgive me for saying it this way. But more more weak prayers don't make prayer stronger. There's still I'm still praying weak prayers if I could use that phrase. So what we need is folks being challenged to reimagine always on the basis of Scripture, Romans 12 to led by the Spirit, reimagine how they pray, obviously, Facebook, that Facebook site called pray dot network, and also one for prayer, pray for serve those kinds of things, just trying to catch people by prayer. And also I think another thing and I'll stop with this Jonathan another thing that I see is prayer is the one thing that even what we call the nun, you know, part of the nuns to not anyone but in a oneness or spiritual but not Christian. Prayer is the one thing you can connect people to in a spiritual way that can draw them closer to Christ. Sometimes if the first thing we connect to them with is you know, hey, you know there's a hell and you're going there that that might not get us very far. But if we connect with Hey, there's a God he wants to talk to you. Maybe they don't speak into say, Well tell me how to pray. Tell me how to take some baby steps. And so that social media is a great way to our Facebook posts. Just to say one of the things I do on Facebook, a lot of the people on Facebook are not Christian people necessarily they've connected with me because maybe old neighborhood where I grew up or they've connected with me because their beach boy crazy like I am. Every once in a while, I'll just put a scripture or say, saying something like, Oh, this verse is really helping me pray today. If you're not sure how here's a way to start. Very simple, not judgmental, not controlling, just a very simple way to help people who I may never know, have learned that how to pray or at least begun to
feel you have experienced in pastoral work in prayer facilitation, and you've acquired expertise also in social media outlets and the application of technology. What is it that technology does very well in helping us foster the spiritual discipline of prayer? And where does technology really not help us out or where is that how is technology What What can technology not do? Well,
facilitating prayer. For me, it's a two sided coin the very thing that I'll use as an example of something good and then also, you know, that can be something that it's bad and I'll go back to my simple examples I've used here of setting reminders to pray. And I find that sometimes if that remind that that's great that helps me that's a good discipline but but sometimes I just kind of, oh yeah, Lord, don't forget Hannah. she's she's she's struggling. And I just move on and it technically it was a prayer. God hears off prayer better to pray a five second further upgrade all sometimes but but the negative or the downward pole for me when that is a, I can't believe that I've prayed just because I've seen a reminder and I've said a few words of prayer. Okay. It can't be the discipline. It can simply remind me to be disciplined. That makes sense. Yeah.
And so continue on with that if you would continue to flesh that out, yes, the strength of technology when applied to prayer, and where is its weakness? Well, for me,
I see the strength of technology as helping me be more disciplined reminding me, connecting me relationally to more people, it could be a church prayer team, it could be a national, you know, some national prayer teams, because of my roles that I'm on that connect me to people. So relationally. Another strength is, is finding how other people pray oftentimes in these apps or these, you know, the comments of people who say they're praying when they say how they're praying. I'm like, Oh, I never thought of that. But an example that came into pre technology age, but it makes that point, as soon as seminary class and it was on Greek it happened to be and again, this is ancient history, but prayer, you know, doesn't change really through the ages and was that we had a time of a break and time of prayer. And one of the woman's students in the class after someone had prayed instead of going to her list, okay, now my turn, here's what I'll pray Lord. She'd started with a simple phrase. Lord, I agree with that. And, and she was like she took the football and a handoff and continued to explore that focus, explore that topic. Well, that happened to me in real life, real time. But I think it also happens in social media, because you hear people pray, see people pray, you watch videos, those kinds of things. So I think there's a lot there that can help people increase their effectiveness.
Feel to many of us, it seems that there's an increased desire or appetite for prayer in many of the churches that we're familiar with and possibly around the world. What's your view? Is there an increased desire for prayer? And if so, what causes what causes new hunger for prayer?
Jonathan, I think you're right. I've observed the same
You know, I was praying when I was a little kid but in terms of leadership or, or wanting to pastor or steward people in their life of prayer that really began for me more in the early 90s 1990s. A long time ago. But since then I've seen an increase in prayer. There was a time when, as a prayer leader, coming to a pastor maybe to say, Hey, would you need to think of having a greater strategy of prayer for your church or whatever the context was? I wouldn't get resistance. No one said, I don't believe prayer go away. But it would be like, I'm not sure. hesitancy not sure what you're saying. Whereas now It not only would they be more receptive to it, they might initiate it. So that's assigned to me that prayer is much more on the Raiders radar screen of Christians, certainly Christian leaders, and also what I call pro champions, people. People who aren't necessarily the preferred director, or the prayer guide, or the pastor, and yet, God has downloaded a passion for prayer in their heart, and wants them to find a way to express that in the context of their small group, their family, their church, that community, the wider Body of Christ. And they don't have to have a title to do that. So just living their life of prayer being prayerful, I think has a possibility to impact people a lot. So yeah, their prayer is much more on the radar screen. There's, I can't prove this, but I think there's more books been written about prayer in the last 20 years and maybe in the last 20 centuries. I don't know that's not a statistic that's just meant to get the point across that it's really a volcanic eruption of books on prayer and the ones I've run into good good theology, good foundation. good ideas. Best Practices. So I'm very, very encouraged. But the statement I made earlier and it sounds so negative or judgmental, I don't mean it that way. But we've got to be careful that more of the same kind of prayer is simply more of the same kind of prayer somewhere. I hope we get more Spirit led scripture fed forgive that to the little sermon outline here but Spirit led scripture fed worship bread, corporate said globally spread kinds of prayer. Forgive me for throwing all that at you but, but to me that that's a format that seems to fit everything that God brings to me in terms of pray more effectively prayer more fervently. I don't want to run away from that. That's my, I want to call it a value system, but that's a grid that I want to see prayer through because it printed tethers me to Scripture, it makes sure the Holy Spirit is not just, you know, off to the side, I'll let you know when to help me but the Holy Spirit is flowing this thing. And it moves beyond just my grocery list of the day. It eventually moves to others and certainly the world.
Thank you so much for sharing that. Phil. that's a that's a great, memorable and significant teaching that you've you've shared with us. Phil, what is the secret to maintaining global movements of prayer? Hmm.
Well, I don't want to be trite with this of the Holy Spirit is the secret of Holy Spirit is never a secret. But what I mean by that is I don't think we create movements. I think sometimes we've seen something that maybe is blossom because molested, but it's as much how do I say this isn't it's as much manmade as it is spirit created. And how do I discern that, you know, it's subjective. I know But I'm trying to say is that a true movement? It will always be even if we go back, we say, that's the church that started that, or that's the prophetic person that wrote that first, or that's the pastor who built that multiset church, praise God for all men and women of God. But if it is a movement of God, the Holy Spirit started. So I go back to a phrase that Henry Blackaby, a great prayer leader said, you know, decades ago, find out what God's doing, and then join him in that work. So in terms of prayer, nope. unless God tells you to start something new, you don't need to start something new. You need to say, Lord, where are you at work in my church? Where are you at work in my community? And how do you want me to join that? He might say, just go and be part of it, you know, you don't need to start something. And one of the things we've found in our citywide work is oftentimes when God downloads a passion for prayer at someone they and I I think I did this when I first got zapped if you will. It. It's like, I'm responsible to start something new because God's given us to me and I'm going to know what says it this way. But I'm going to be the leader and I'm going to build it and suddenly it's I'm I'm, as opposed to God's already at work. Thank you for introducing me to this move of your Holy Spirit. Let me be part of that. Now, I may bring something brand new to it. I may bring something that that's weak where I'm strong. So guys, not just going to have you fill a seat. But just be careful. You don't need to. I don't mean you personally. We don't need to start something. No, God has already gone before us. join him in that work and ask him how you fit. Thank you so much for that counsel.
Phil. Phil, if I can close this interview with a question that we've been asking all of the interviewees on this program, and that is this what would it mean for the church to be ignited today? How would we recognize Unity and what is it that we can do as Christians to pursue the Unity for which Jesus prayed in john 17?
I, you know, that's a lifelong journey question the book of 600 pages and you know, a class of two, not two weeks, but two months. Wonderful question. And I think that's a question on the heart of the Holy Spirit. So first, let me just say, I would encourage people, whatever their entry into the so called prayer movement is, maybe they only see it with a small group or just there to john 17, the the unit unified heart of the church is on the Holy Spirit's heart. So please pursue that pursue that, trying to respond to it quickly a little bit. I would say maybe first, what it's not. It's not necessarily Well, let me say it this way. It's, it's meant to be more organic meaning led by the Spirit flowing flexible. It's meant to be more organic than organizational before. What I found in cities is when they get a sense of you know what God wants us more united, john 17. Let's, and they create an organization. I'm not against organizations, we shouldn't be disorganized. But we don't need to organize a work that the Holy Spirit is still very capable of moving organically. It needs to be more relational than religious and we as reppin chocos, don't use that we understand religion as man's main thing, but it's easy to get swept into that. It's meant to be more prayerful and processing with the Holy Spirit than programatic. Now, there are some good programs I was just recently involved in something in Chicago called explored at Chicago and by God's grace 1000 churches got involved and had programmatic aspects to it, but the churches that will benefit from it and the unity that will come from it from those who began to connect with one another so quickly, some for seeds. I think unity, one place to start where does an individual Start, no one is in charge of a whole city. And if someone says, I'm the apostle of this whole city, pray for them. I don't think they should say that. So where do you start? Let's start by communicating what you see God doing with other churches, other groups, other ministries, organizations, and let others know about that. That's a huge ministry towards the john 17. Unity. It's a way of saying, you know what, you're not the only ones here. God is at work in many places in many different ways. And secondly, begin to as leaders kind of surface saying, Wow, that's interesting thing. connect them to one another. Have you met this person, especially over ethnic lines, black and white, Hispanic, north, side, South Side, high church, low church, whatever terms we use to kind of explain our tribal pneus, so to speak, connect those leaders to one another and you don't realize the huge power that can have, they may begin to cluster and do something and you'll have nothing to do That the gods used to the third C is convene if you're a convener or find a convener to say, You know what? It's wonderful that you guys met at coffee or those. Can we have a pastors prayer group together? Or can we have leadership come together to pray and seek the face of God. And then finally, we hope that the convening leads to collaboration. And again, I go back to spirit, lead, scripture fan, all those things kind of collaboration. Let me say one more thing, and hopefully, there's time for it. I just read today of a church that had a fall a pastor fell it always messy, not judging any of that. And they gathered their congregation to have a meeting to say, you know, let's, let's finalize this let's move on with the future, which is good leadership. But what I heard from the meeting and again, I don't mean to be judgmental, I'm just trying to make an observation was that they sought reconciliation among the different factions of the church. That always happens. When a lot of beloved leader false reconciliation is important, but to me they skipped over the fact of, of repentance, part of the unification of the churches repenting that we aren't unified together. It's even even a part of that repentance is and Lord I'm not sure how to to work with this group because of that point of their theology or, or that that mode of worship that they do. I'm not I'm not judging it, necessarily. That's not I'm going to change it but how look so the we need people who begin to pray from a repetitive attitude so that God's remembering that reconciliation, and it's a godly one organization.
We're so grateful to have been speaking with you Phil, thank you so much for sharing these reflections with us.