Posts belonging to Category Prayer



Stop Praying!

Here is a great church sign for all my friends up north:

Whoever is praying for snow - please stop!

Do I hear any amens?

HT: Pure Church

Quick Takes – 5/30/2009

John Piper encourages you not to use Twitter while in church. “When you are in corporate worship, Worship! There is a difference between communion with God and commenting on communion with God. Don’t tweet while having sex. Don’t tweet while praying with the dying. Don’t tweet when your wife is telling you about the kids. There’s a season for everything. Multitasking only makes sense when none of the tasks requires heart-engaged, loving attention.”

Paul Miller writes about God’s divine story in your life. “If God is sovereign, then he is control of all the details of my life. If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good. If he is all-wise, then he’s not going to do everything I want because I don’t know what I need. If he is patient, then he is going to take time to do all this. When we put these all together — God’s sovereignty, love, wisdom, and patience — we have a divine story.”

C. J. Mahaney celebrates the blessing of unanswered prayer. “I want to celebrate unanswered prayer. I want to … thank God for all the prayers I have prayed sinfully motivated, that the Saviour hasn’t answered. I want to thank God that he is sovereign, not sentimental. I want to thank God for all the times when … I have approached the Saviour demanding that he do for me whatever I ask, … that the Saviour’s response was not simply, ‘You don’t know what you are asking’, but that he withheld an answer to that prayer. I am grateful to God for unanswered prayers.”

The Holy Spirit and Prayer (PTOM 5)

(Last week and this I am sharing my Personal Theology of Ministry. Click here for more posts from the Personal Theology of Ministry series.)

Apart from God nothing of lasting value can be accomplished:

Therefore I will do the work of the ministry in full dependency on God through the Holy Spirit. In order to bear fruit I must remain in Christ. Apart from Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5). When Paul came to Corinth he did not depend on his own human skills or strength. Instead he resolved to know nothing but Christ crucified and relied fully on the Holy Spirit to authenticate his message (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). The Holy Spirit is the one who gives gifts for ministry. I must depend on him for these gifts if I am to speak as one speaking the very words of God and to serve with the strength God provides (1 Peter 4:10-11). Much of this dependency is demonstrated through prayer. Even Christ in his earthly ministry modeled dependency on God the Father through prayer (Luke 5:16; Hebrews 5:7).

Back to Table of Contents | Next section: The Centrality of Scripture (PTOM 6)

Related post: Church Search

National Day of Prayer 2009

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer for the United States. The purpose of the National Day of Prayer is to gather the people of our country to come together and pray, particularly for our nation and for those in leadership on all levels of local, national, church and educational areas of influence.

Let me encourage you to participate in this special day of prayer for our nation. Over 40,000 prayer events are scheduled to take place this year across the country — at churches, schools, government buildings and other public gathering places. Some local pastors and I will be hosting an event in Agawam, MA during the lunch hour. To find an event near you, click here.

A Praying Life, by Paul Miller

A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, by Paul Miller looks like a great new book on prayer. Here are some recommendations for the book:

“Paul Miller refuses to separate the spiritual life from the rest of our daily living. In A Praying Life, he shows the difference that constant communication with Christ makes in the everyday experiences of life, especially the life of the family. Reading this book will help you make prayer a more important part of your own life story by integrating prayer into the daily routines of life.”
 - Dr. Philip Ryken, Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church

A Praying Life is a deeply moving testimony to God’s power in prayer. Paul Miller shares his life and biblical wisdom to instill in us, his readers, a “heart that becomes a factory of prayer” – that is, a passion to speak to God honestly and in a way that will change our life and the lives of others for whom we pray.”
 - Tremper Longman III, Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

“Honest, realistic, mature, wise, deep. Warmly recommended.”
 - J.I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College

“Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” Paul Miller’s superb book calls us back to this ‘greater work,’ reminding us of the joy we find in our Lord’s presence and equipping us with practical insight on how to recapture the intimacy and power of a praying life”
 - Ken Sande, President, Peacemaker Ministries

“This is as fine a book on prayer that you will ever read, but it is so much more. It is the story of our struggle to actually live like we believe our Heavenly Father really does love us. If we did, nothing could keep us from being committed to the day-by-day hard work of prayer. Paul exegetes our struggle in a way that is convicting, insight giving, and encouraging. This is a book on prayer that actually makes you want to pray!”
 - Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries

Related post: The Sin of Prayerlessness Series

First International Day of Prayer for Turkey

Today is the first annual International Day of Prayer for Turkey. Andrew Jackson, who is attending a service in Instanbul today, shares the following letter from Christian leaders in Turkey:

We would like to invite you to join us in a commitment that we as the current churches of Turkey have made: as from this year, 2009, to set aside every year, the day of April 18 as the “International Day of Prayer for Turkey”.

Why April 18? We had been thinking of such a day of prayer for many years as we knew we needed more prayer from around the world. Various dates were being proposed, when, as you will sadly recall, three of our brothers were brutally murdered, martyred, in the city of Malatya in 2007. On 18 April 2007, Necati Aydin, Tillman Geske and Ugur Yüksel were murdered for no other reason than actively living and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. We know that their deaths, that saddened God’s heart and our hearts, were not in vain. We feel that more than any other event, mingling their memory in deep prayer for the country they and we all love, will honour their sacrifice.

We therefore call upon the body of Christ worldwide to join us each year on April 18, to pray for the church and the land/people of Turkey. To pray that the church in Turkey is anointed and strengthened in the Holy Spirit to live for the glory of God; and to pray that the outcome of this will bring hope and blessing to the land and people of Turkey as hearts and eyes are opened to the Kingdom of God.

Will you please pray for the church and the people of Turkey today? I just did.

White House Vetting Prayers?

According to U.S News and World Report, the Obama administration is vetting the prayers offered by various religious leaders before President Obama’s appearances. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki says that this has “been standard since the campaign.”

In a departure from previous presidents, [Obama’s] public rallies are opening with invocations that have been commissioned and vetted by the White House … Though invocations have long been commonplace at presidential inaugurations and certain events like graduations or religious services at which presidents are guests, the practice of commissioning and vetting prayers for presidential rallies is unprecedented in modern history.

Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, (who is against prayers being offered in State settings) said, “The only thing worse than having these prayers in the first place is to have them vetted, because it entangles the White House in core theological matters.” Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, comments:

I rarely find myself in agreement with Barry Lynn, but I am with him on this issue — at least with respect to his argument that this practice “entangles the White House in core theological matters.” Of course it does. When a White House approves or edits prayers, it has entered theological territory and takes on a theological function … The government has no authority and no proper role in the vetting of prayer. No Christian should allow any prayer to bear the label, “This prayer approved by the White House.”

What do you think about the practice of vetting prayers for government occasions?

Related posts:

Rick Warren’s Inaugural Prayer

Here is the video and full text of Rick Warren’s invocation given at Barack Obama’s inauguration earlier today:

(Video length: 4:44)

Almighty God, our Father: Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory. History is your story. The Scripture tells us, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African American President of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders. Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans—united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you—forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone—forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve—forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitude—even when we differ. Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy, and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day, all nations—and all people—will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care. I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life—Yeshua, ‘Isa, Jesús, Jesus—who taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.

The Storm Center on the Battlefield

Andrew MurrayThis is Part Seven (the final post) in a series on The Sin of Prayerlessness. The excerpts come from the first chapter of the book The Prayer Life, by Andrew Murray. Click here for an introduction and links to the other posts in the series.

The Storm Center on the Battlefield:

Mention was made in conference of the expression “strategic position” used so often in reference to the great strife between the kingdom of heaven and the powers of darkness.

When a general chooses the place from which he intends to strike the enemy, he pays most attention to those points which he thinks most important in the fight. Thus there was on the battlefield of Waterloo a farmhouse which Wellington immediately saw was the key to the situation. He did not spare his troops in his endeavours to hold that point: the victory depended on it. So it actually happened. It is the same in the conflict between the believer and the powers of darkness. The inner chamber is the place where the decisive victory is obtained.

The enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian, and above all the minister, to neglect prayer. He knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected. When the Church shuts herself up to the power of the inner chamber, and the soldiers of the Lord have received on their knees “power from on high,” then the powers of darkness will be shaken and souls will be delivered. In the Church, on the mission field, with the minister and his congregation, everything depends on the faithful exercise of the power of prayer.

In the week of conference I found the following in The Christian:

Two persons quarrel over a certain point. We call them Christian and Apollyon. Apollyon notices that Christian has a certain weapon which would give him a sure victory. They meet in deadly strife, and Apollyon resolves to take away the weapon from his opponent and destroy it. For the moment the main cause of the strife has become subordinate; the great point now is who shall get possession of the weapon on which everything depends? It is of vital importance to get hold of that.

So it is in the conflict between Satan and the believer. God’s child can conquer everything by prayer. Is it any wonder that Satan does his utmost to snatch that weapon from the Christian, or to hinder him in the use of it?

How now does Satan hinder prayer? By temptation to postpone or curtail it, by bringing in wandering thoughts and all sorts of distractions; through unbelief and hopelessness. Happy is the prayer hero who, through it all, takes care to hold fast and use his weapon. Like our Lord in Gethsemane, the more violently the enemy attacked the more earnestly he prayed and ceased not till he had obtained the victory. After all the other parts of the armor had been named, Paul adds: “With all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6.18). Without prayer, the helmet of salvation, and the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit which is God’s word, have no power. All depends on prayer. God teach us to believe and hold this fast!

Thoughts: We cannot fight the good fight of faith without prayer. Prayer is the place where the decisive victory is obtained. I hope this series has been helpful to you in our own prayer life. If you enjoyed these excerpts from the first chapter, I would encourage you to buy the book. Here are a couple links:

Click here for more posts on Prayer.
Click here to read the message Called to Pray.

The Cause of Prayerlessness

Andrew MurrayThis is Part Six in a series on The Sin of Prayerlessness. The excerpts come from the first chapter of the book The Prayer Life, by Andrew Murray. Click here for an introduction and links to the other posts in the series.

The Cause of Prayerlessness:

In an elder’s prayer meeting, a brother put the question: “What, then, is the cause of so much prayerlessness? Is it not unbelief?”

The answer was: “Certainly; but then comes the question what is the cause of that unbelief?” When the disciples asked the Lord Jesus: “Why could not we cast the devil out?’ His answer was: “Because of your unbelief.” He went further and said: “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17.19-21). If the life is not one of self-denial — of fasting — that is, letting the world go; of prayer — that is, laying hold of heaven, faith cannot be exercised. A life lived according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit — it is in this that we find the origin of the prayerlessness of which we complain. As we came out of the meeting a brother said to me: “That is the whole difficulty; we wish to pray in the Spirit and at the same time walk after the flesh, and this is impossible.” …

Scripture teaches us that there are but two conditions possible for the Christian. One is a walk according to the Spirit, the other a walk according to ‘the flesh.’ These two powers are in irreconcilable conflict with each other … ‘The flesh’ cannot be improved or sanctified. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8.7). There is no means of dealing with ‘the flesh’ save as Christ dealt with it, bearing it to the cross. “Our old man is crucified with him” (Rom. 6.6); so we by faith also crucify it, and regard and treat it daily as an accursed thing that finds its rightful place on the accursed cross.

Here then we have the deep root of evil as the cause of a prayerless life. ‘The flesh’ can say prayers well enough, calling itself religious for so doing and thus satisfying conscience. But ‘the flesh’ has no desire or strength for the prayer that strives after an intimate knowledge of God; that rejoices in fellowship with him; and that continues to lay hold of his strength. So, finally, it comes to this, ‘the flesh’ must be denied and crucified …

O my brethren, do not seek to find in circumstances the explanation of this prayerlessness over which we mourn; seek it where God’s word declares it to be, in the hidden aversion of the heart to a holy God.

When a Christian does not yield entirely to the leading of the Spirit — and this is certainly the will of God and the work of his grace — he lives, without knowing it, under the power of ‘the flesh’ … I pray you take time and give an answer to the question: Have I not found here the cause of my prayerlessness, of my powerlessness to effect any change in the matter? I live in the Spirit, I have been born again, but I do not walk after the Spirit — ‘the flesh’ lords it over me. The carnal life cannot possibly pray in the spirit and power. God forgive me. The carnal life is evidently the cause of my sad and shameful prayerlessness.

Thoughts: This is a long excerpt but a good one. The takeaway line for me comes right near the beginning: “We wish to pray in the Spirit and at the same time walk after the flesh, and this is impossible.” Our prayer life is integrally connected with the rest of our life. How we live affects how we pray and vice versa. As someone once said, “Prayer will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from prayer.” How will you live differently this week knowing that walking according to the flesh rather than the Spirit is the cause of prayerlessness?

Next post in series:  The Storm Center on the Battlefield

A Witness from America

Andrew MurrayThis is Part Five in a series on The Sin of Prayerlessness. The excerpts come from the first chapter of the book The Prayer Life, by Andrew Murray. Click here for an introduction and links to the other posts in the series.

A Witness from America:

In 1898, there were two members of the Presbytery in New York who attended the Northfield Conference for the deepening of the spiritual life. They returned to their work with the fire of a new enthusiasm. They endeavoured to bring about a revival in the entire Presbytery. In a meeting which they held, the chairman was guided to ask the brethren a question concerning their prayer life: “Brethren,” said he, “let us today make confession before God and each other. It will do us good. Will everyone who spends half an hour every day with God in connection with his work hold up a hand?” One hand was held up. He made a further request: “All who thus spend fifteen minutes hold up a hand.” Not half of the hands were held up. Then he said: “Prayer, the working power of the Church of Christ, and half of the workers make hardly any use of it! All who spend five minutes hold up hands.” All hands went up. But one man came later with the confession that he was not quite sure if he spent five minutes in prayer every day. “It is,” said he, “a terrible revelation of how little time I spend with God.”

Thoughts: In an interview on his 90th birthday, Billy Graham said that he wished he had spent more time with his family, more time studying and more time in prayer. Do you wish you spent more time in prayer? What positive steps can you take this week towards that goal?

Next post in series:  The Cause of Prayerlessness

Prayerlessness and the Gospel

Andrew MurrayThis is Part Four in a series on The Sin of Prayerlessness. The excerpts come from the first chapter of the book The Prayer Life, by Andrew Murray. Click here for an introduction and links to the other posts in the series.

Prayerlessness and the Gospel:

What is it, then, that makes prayerlessness such a great sin?

Consider–
    1. What a reproach it is to God.
    2. It is the cause of a deficient spiritual life.
    3. The dreadful loss which the church suffers as a result of
        prayerlessness of the minister.

    4. The impossibility of preaching the gospel to all men–as
        we are commanded by Christ to do–so long as this sin
        is not overcome and cast out.

Many feel that the great need of missions is the obtaining of men and women who will give themselves to the Lord to strive in prayer for the salvation of souls. It has also been said that God is eager and able to deliver and bless the world he has redeemed, if his people were but willing, if they were but ready, to cry to him day and night But how can congregations be brought to that unless there comes first an entire change in ministers and that they begin to see that the indispensable thing is not preaching, not pastoral visitation, not church work, but fellowship with God in prayer till they are clothed with power from on high?

Oh, that all thought and work and expectation concerning the kingdom might drive us to the acknowledgement of the sin of prayerlessness! God help us to root it out! God deliver us from it through the blood and power of Christ Jesus! God teach every minister of the Word to see what a glorious place he may occupy if he first of all is delivered from this root of evils; so that with courage and joy, in faith and perseverance, he can go on with his God!

The sin of prayerlessness! The Lord lay the burden of it so heavy on our hearts that we may not rest till it is taken far from us through the name and power of Jesus. He will make this possible for us.

Thoughts: The gospel cannot go forth in power without prayer. Do you pray for missions on a regular basis? How about for your church’s missionaries? Here are two great resources to help you join in the worldwide effort of praying for missions. Remember, your prayers make a difference!

Next post in series:  A Witness from America