Archives For Prayer

At the Red Brick Church we are striving to live out Jesus's encouragement that we ought always to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1)And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1 . . .

If nothing else, just pray with the song given at the end of this post . . .

Life aches over the long haul, not just for a second or two. If life was a 50-yard dash, then we could endure the pain through sheer force of will. But life isn’t a sprint. It’s a cross-country marathon that hurts each step of the race. Soon enough we find ourselves singing with Jackson Browne that we’re “running on empty.” We lose heart and can barely put one foot in front of the other.

So the question becomes, “How can we go on when we’re running on empty?” Where can we find the strength to make it through so many aching years? The general answer is, of course, the LORD. Scripture promises that those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:28-31).

But the general answer, “the LORD will give us strength,” doesn’t suggest any particular course of action. How is it that we are going to see God get us through life? Jesus answered the question of how we can be renewed in Luke 18. He taught his disciples a parable for the purpose of showing that the antidote to wearing out in life is to always pray. Notice Luke 18:1 at the top of this page. Christ gave this parable so that they always pray and not lose heart.

The parable that Christ gave in Luke 18:1-8 is a curious picture. The LORD told the story of a widow persistently petitioning an unjust judge. The judge eventually grants the widow’s request because she has worn him out. Christ reasoned that if even an unjust judge eventually gave in, we can be sure that God will hear the persistent prayers of his own who call out in prayer.

Do notice the emphasis on persistent prayer. The key to always praying so that we don’t lose heart is recognizing that prayer should be a long, steady pull – – – not a quick jerk here and there. For those areas of life where we hurt, we should find ourselves on our knees day after day after day. Over and over again, we should approach God with the bright anticipation of children who ask a loving present for a gift.

When we find ourselves wearing out, then we should respond by getting on our knees each day to bringing our requests to our heavenly Father, “We should ask God with anticipation, “Is it today that you will grant my request? Lord will you hear my prayer?”

Forget Jackson Browne and the lament that we’re running on empty. Instead, let’s sing the old chorus, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord, / Standin’ in the need of prayer. / It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord, / Standin’ in the need of prayer.” Or, “Pass me not o gentle savior, hear my humble cry. / While on others thou art calling, / do not pass me by.

As you pray persistently, do not forget to ask God for those areas of vision that we are targeting as a church. We are striving to be a church that features: (1) Word centered Worship (2) A passion for outreach locally and around the world. (3) A passion for raising up a new generation of Christians who continue in the faith after High School. (4) A current constitution and a strong-evangelical doctrinal statement (5) A shared vision for giving sacrificially of our time, talents, and treasure. (6) Meaningful membership and maintained rolls (7) A name that reflects our identity – (8) A staff to lead and feed our church: (9) Facilities where we can minister and share life together. Persistently pray!

See also on prayer:

Specific Family Prayers Provide Particular Encouragement

Jesus Example of Prayer in the Gospel of Luke

Pray Like a Drunk

2013_12_06_10_41_45Family prayer journals can be used to encourage those for whom we are praying in special ways. Click on the pictures and enlarge them to see how we prayed and what we wrote down. My children write like their father. You may or may not be able to read their handwriting.

Recently a young father in our church learned that he has cancer. Like most churches, we are quick to promise prayer in that kind of situation. Within a few days, our leaders met together with the family in their home to pray over them.

In addition, our family has learned that one of the best ways for us to pray is to do so together and to make journal entries about our prayers. 2013_12_06_10_41_46We pray together as a family after our evening meal and then someone writes a brief note about how we prayed.

If you read the journal entries, you will notice that we usually write down what it was we ate. Our point is not that matters whether or not we are kosher (we ate pork chops one night). But we know that specificity adds credibility . . .when they read this they can know that our family really did take time after dinner to pray for them.

It is one thing to say generally, “We’re praying.” It is even more encouraging when we show with specificity that we prayed together as a group at a particular time and place.

Answered prayer on FacebookOf course, you can imagine how thankful we were to hear the day before Thanksgiving how God has answered prayer.

Paul’s words should challenge us to pray for the Church in Syria and for one another. What would happen with the cause of Christ if more of us took seriously Paul’s admonition to pray (2 Cor 1:11).

Doubtless, many persecuted Christians in Syria and around the world are so persecuted that they are despairing of life itself.

The Apostle Paul could relate. In 2 Cor 1, Paul bares his heart by sharing that in Asia he and his coworkers thought they had reached the end:

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  (2 Cor 1:8-9).

Still, Paul knew there was a purpose for his suffering.

But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Cor 1:9-10).

If Paul knew that his only hope was through Christ, he also understood that God works through the instrumentality of prayer. God’s faithfulness in seeing his people through difficulties is in and through God’s people praying. So Paul adds:

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:11.

Surely, if Syrian Christians had our email addresses, and they didn’t think that we would mark them as spam, they would echo the Apostle Paul’s words to us today, “You must help us by prayer . . .”

The Stillman Valley Post Office where the crime took placeAt the time, I didn’t realize the Postmistress was bound and gagged in the back of the Stillman Valley Post Office. It was only later, over a sub, that I was able to piece this together. Besides me, she, talking about the post office lady, was the other victim in the crime, though my wife and our church administrative assistant also suffered. And Stacy at Shear Madness was inconvenienced, though Stacy was pleasant throughout. My wife, Jamie, and Jana, our church admin, were less pleasant.

So far as I can tell, Pearl was the only one who benefited, though I was blessed to see her. I should point out that Pearl is from southern Iowa and deserves to be blessed.

I digress. Near the end of the day I was looking for my car keys at church. My keys were nowhere to be found. This was a logical impossibility since I drove to church and had not left the entire day. Indeed, I worked through lunch. Strictly speaking, I wasn’t exactly fasting, but if I hadn’t bragged about it now I might have been in line for some sort of reward (Matthew 6:1). Though polishing off the Nutter Butters when I got home might also have disqualified me from what could be called a biblical fast.

Back to my missing car keys. Given that I had drive to church, and not left the premises, there were only two possibilities. Either:

1. I locked them in my car.

2. Or, Jana (our church admin) misplaced my keys.

I like to give Jana the benefit of the doubt, as it is  my practice to extend grace, so I asked Jamie, who was picking Allie up from the Stillman Valley library, to stop by with an extra car key so we could search my immaculate Camry.

Jamie did stop by. She could not find my keys in the car.

In the mean time, I found a set of Jana’s keys at church and immediately realized what had happened.

1. I set my keys down on the counter adjacent to Jana’s.

2. Jana, who has been a bit frazzled as of late, took my keys with no malice aforethought.

I know this is possible because I once inadvertently took a guy’s keys from a public library in Grand Rapids, MI.

I speed-dialed Jana who, inconveniently for me, was shopping. She denied taking the keys but agreed to quit shopping to look in her vehicle for my keys.

I waited patiently (Isaiah 40:28-31) for Jana to confirm that she had my keys and contemplated the logistics of getting them back, as Jana lives a full 4 tenths of a mile from me, and now that junior tackle football has started, High Road traffic has picked up.

Jana insisted on that she did not have the keys. When I pointed out that I had not left church the entire day, she reminded me that I had gotten a haircut.

Yet, again, humility required that I consider the possibility that I had been absent minded with my keys. I went down to Shear Madness and asked Stacy to return my keys. She also denied having them, and pointed out that she had seen me drive away after getting a haircut which necessitated I had my keys when I left. It all came back to me. Stacy and I had been discussing precious metal prices with enough intensity that I almost forgot to pay her.

Usually, I walk to get a haircut, but I had forgotten today that I had an appointment, so I drove there at the last minute, after taking Allie to the library, never exceeding the speed limit, you understand.

DSC_0022

Pearl is on the left

As I was leaving Shear Madness, I remembered that I had also left church to go to the post office so I hiked (so as to save fuel) the 25 yards to the post office and saw my keys on the post office counter in plain site.

At once, it became clear to me what had taken place. The post office person (who was not the regular) had pick-pocketed me. I know this sort of thing is possible since I recently watched the art of pick-pocketing.

Logic requires the crime. I surmise that the lady at the counter took them, after overpowering the normal post office lady.  When she saw that I had solved the crime, she resigned by putting my keys back on the counter, which was fortunate for her given the consequences of being convicted of grand theft auto.

On the way out of the post office, I saw Pearl, who told me that she has an important upcoming doctor’s appointment. I prayed with her and helped get her posted items to the window. Pearl and I were both blessed.

 

Children praying during a time of worship at Vacation Bible School in 2013.

Children praying during a time of worship at Vacation Bible School in 2013.

I previously posted that children are easily the most beautiful site in the world. Still, I was struck anew this year during Vacation Bible School of how thankful I am for the children of our church. This year, as I took pictures, I was careful to pray for them very intentionally.

I pray that our children would:

  1. Follow Christ and be clear about the Good News of how they can truly know Him (see this post).
  2. Know that the Lord Jesus Christ is our King (Acts 4:12).
  3. Understand and believe that we meet Jesus and centrally see His wonder and beauty in God’s Word (Psalm 19:7-11).
  4. Believe that God spoke all things into existence by His powerful Word. (Genesis 1, Psalm 8:1-9).
  5. Know and feel that their church family loves them (Acts 2:42).
  6. Experience our church as a place of joy and laughter and be filled to the measure of all the fullness of the love of Christ (Phil 4:4, Eph 3:14-21).
  7. Sense and know that our church is a place of solemn reverence (Colossians 1:15-20).
  8. Hear the call that Christians are to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

We are pryaing that our children would know that God spoke all things into existence.

Reasons Local Churches Dwindle Away

Chris —  February 11, 2013 — 3 Comments

Number three is the one that really got my attention. You will have to click through to read it. But I think #3 is absolutely a central reason why many churches dwindle away.

Chuck Lawless writes:

I love the local church. It’s God’s church, despite its flaws. For ten years, I’ve had the privilege of consulting with churches seeking to grow. Here are my reflections of those years – one reflection for each year.

If you’re a pastor in a struggling church, be sure to read to the end.  I think you’ll find hope there.

  1. Churches often wait too long to address decline. Some churches don’t do regular checkups, and thus they have no means of knowing they’re sick. Others recognize the symptoms but choose to ignore them. By the time they admit decline, the pattern is so entrenched that reversing the trend is not easy.
  2. Statistics really are helpful. I realize that numbers can become an idol—and that we must fight against—but numbers do tell us something. Most often, they tell us to ask more “why” questions. Why has the church declined in attendance for five years? Why did the church reach 50 people last year, but attendance grew by only fifteen? Why has worship attendance in the second service plateaued?

Read the rest here.

 

Kevin DeYoung:

Your pastors and elders need your help to live out the calling of Acts 6:4: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Because everything seems more important and seems more urgent than being in the word and prayer. Everything.

What happens if all the lights are burnt out and the heat doesn’t work and the pews are upside down and the sound is off? People will notice. People will say something. People will be upset.

But what if . . .

Read the rest here.

Each time I read the Gospel of Luke, I am struck by the Lord’s example in prayer. This list is not exhaustive. It does not include, for example, Jesus’s emphasis on prayer in his parables.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22

16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Luke 5:16

12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. Luke 6:12

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Luke 9:18

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. Luke 9:28-29

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46

 See also Julian Kinkaid’s, The Theme of Prayer in Luke. I don’t know this author, but I appreciated his summary.

Pray Like a Drunk?

Chris —  December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

When was the last time you prayed this urgently?

I’m preaching this Sunday on the birth of Samuel: the third in our series, Ways in the Manger.

In the beginning of the narrative, Hannah longs for a child. She prays so urgently for a son that the priest, Eli assumes she is drunk. But Hannah assures him that she is as sober as a judge.

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

Lest, we get the wrong picture, notice the text says Hannah was “speaking in her heart” – – – only her lips moved. So she was not blathering like Otis on the Andy Griffith show. Still, she was pouring out her soul so urgently that Eli thought she was looped.

We ought  also to notice what will become clear as the narrative progresses. The God of Israel truly was central for Hannah. She did not want a child who would become a small idol for her. I’ll have much more to say about that in the sermon.

I wonder when was the last time I prayed as urgently as Hannah? Is there ever a time when we pray so urgently because we are so concerned for the cause of Christ?

 

If you sensed the Holy Spirit prompting you to pray for a stranger, what should you do?

I caught a short question and answer recently on a Christian television show – – – and I don’t even know the name of the show – – – The host was answering viewer mail and one of the questions was, “What should I do if prompted to pray for a stranger?”

The host emphatically answered that you should go ahead and make supplication.

So far, so good. I agreed completely. If prompted to pray for a stranger, then by all means, do it. Seriously.

But the television host went on to explain that he thought you should approach the stranger and ask permission to pray. So the scene might be one of walking up to someone in a Hy-Vee grocery story (“where there’s a helpful smile, in every aisle”) to say, “The Lord just prompted me to pray for you and I wondered if that would be okay?”

The host stressed that he has never had someone reject such a request, implying that he has, on numerous occasions, approached a stranger and said, “God just put it on my hear to pray for you . . .”

Really?

We  ought to break this down into two questions.

  1. If I feel prompted to pray for a stranger, should I do so?
  2. If I feel prompted to pray for a stranger, should I approach him or her and ask permission to have a word of prayer?

As I have posted in the past, I am a firm believer in secret prayers. Not only do I think there is a place to pray for strangers, but I have done so on numerous occasions. I have a small dream that when I get to the other side, I’ll be able to read the files on how secret prayers have been answered. But I don’t have a biblical defense of my hope. I just think it would be kind of cool. But heaven will be wonderful either way.

Anyway, if we really believe in the power of prayer, is it necessary to tell the person we are praying for him or her? Wouldn’t it be better to just pray?

And how wise is it to approach a stranger and offer prayer?

Thoughts? Under what circumstances?

Maybe there is a third question, “Should I expect the Holy Spirit to prompt me to approach strangers and ask permission to pray for them?”

See also:

The Value of a Place to Pray