Christian, Uncategorized

Four Prayers for My Church

Today is the widely recognized National Day of Prayer and although most people think about praying for our nation, I want to share with you four prayers I have for my church. Midway Baptist Church is the epitome of an established Southern Baptist Church. Our church is 140 years old and God has blessed us historically, but we understand that we have no promise of longevity in the future. As a pastor, I do not simply desire that our church will continue to operate. Instead, my desire is that our church will impact the kingdom of God. I do not want to be involved with passive maintenance. Instead, I want to lead our church in active obedience. So here are four prayers for my church today:

  • My first prayer is that my church would continue to grow in their love for the scriptures. I want my people to desire and devour the Word of God. These are the “wonderful words of life” but I am afraid that many of us are living in a constant state of spiritual starvation. My desire is that my congregation would become spiritually fat because they continually feast upon the riches of God’s Word. I pray that they would wake up meditating upon God’s new mercies. I pray that we would eagerly desire to sing, study, hear, memorize, speak, and live the word. I pray that they would not be satisfied with low-fat sermons and bible studies. No sugar substitutes; no low calories. I want us to desire the pure, unadulterated, powerful word of God.

 

  • My second prayer is that my church would desire to share the gospel every day, first with themselves, then second with their neighbor. I pray that my church would understand that the person and work of Christ on our behalf is our only hope in life and in death. I pray that my people will understand that the gospel comes all the way down. It comes to the lowly and the humbled. It is for the losers and the worriers. The gospel is for capital “S” Sinners. I pray that the gospel would penetrate the heart of our church so much that it overflows naturally into our daily conversations. I pray that we would gossip the gospel. The time is short and the harvest is plentiful. I pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would raise up workers from our church and send them into our community to reap what He has sown.

 

  • My third prayer for my church today is that God would help them to draw a clear line between their vocation and the gospel. I pray that He would help them to understand that “a Christian is an utterly free man, lord of all, subject to none.” And simultaneously that “a Christian is an utterly dutiful man, servant of all, subject to all.” I want our church to understand how God expects them to use their God-ordained job for His glory. Whether they are in the home, at work, at the farm, I want our people to understand what it means to do all things to the glory of God. This can only be done well if our people understand that their first job as believers is to love God supremely. Often we use our jobs as excuses for why we cannot serve God, but one day we will be ashamed of the years we spent prioritizes anything over Christ. Our jobs are not meant to be a distraction; they are meant to be a tool in which we serve God well.

 

  • My fourth prayer for my church today is that God would raise up young men to lead our church faithfully. The Lord has blessed our church with godly leaders that love him. I cannot thank the Lord enough for the godly deacons that serve Midway Baptist Church alongside me. They have all blessed my family and me tremendously, but there is one problem. All of our deacons are older in age. Our youngest deacon is in his mid-sixties. They have served faithfully, but they cannot serve forever! My desire is that God would begin raising up younger men to lead our church faithfully. It will not be long before the baton will be passed; I pray that God would provide our church with spiritually mature, faithful men who are not afraid of the challenge and the responsibility that leading a church entails.

 

These four prayers cannot summarize all of my prayers for the church that I dearly love. My greatest desire for my church is that God would transform lives and make us useful for his Kingdom. I pray that we would be busy sharing the gospel, serving our community, and strengthening the saints all for the glory of God. What are some of your prayers for your church?

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Christian, Uncategorized

“Pray About Everything” A Review

The discipline of prayer is often one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines of our time. I often find in my own life I have so much to pray about and yet, I pray so little. As a pastor, this is concerning to me, but what becomes more concerning, is when I realize that the seeds planted in the pulpit are reaped in the pew. Paul Tautges seeks to reverse this trend by setting forth this short work that encourages individuals, specifically pastors, to cultivate a profound sense of God-dependency within their lives and within their congregations.

In “Pray About Everything”, Paul Tautges presents a firm theological foundation for prayer that is both readable and enjoyable. This book is written in two parts with a practical set of appendices that help to wrap everything up. In Part 1, Tautges seeks to define and ground the command to pray within the biblical and historical tradition. Tautges shows that the early church understood prayer to be a lifestyle of God-dependency. He also examines how Paul’s commands to the church at Thessalonica reveals a powerful level of dependence on God in every aspect of life. In Part 2, Tautges presents seven brief meditations for prayer meetings. These meditations are instructional and devotional. They include instructions on what it means to pray in Jesus’ name, praying for unbelievers, praying for government leaders, and various other practical beliefs about prayer.

In these two parts, Tautges presents a wealth of biblical knowledge on prayer that is perfect for beginners and those more advanced in the discipline of prayer. Tautges brings together the profound and the simple in an extremely helpful and attainable manner. In every chapter, Tautges shows his heart for churches to let go of self-dependency and grasp the life-giving God-dependency found in the gospel. As a pastor, I would recommend this book to anyone struggling to cultivate a consistent and meaningful prayer life, and I intend on using it with my own congregation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Shepherd Press in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Christian

Praying the Word of God

It has been said that prayer is the life-blood of the Christian.  Prayer is, as John Piper so fittingly put it, the “communication by which the weapons of warfare are deployed according to the will of God.”  It is the very spark that ignites us to action, and the fountain that refreshes us in our weaknesses.  A non-praying Christian is simply an oxymoron.  Yet, prayer seems to be something that I struggle with in my day to day life.  I always feel as though I don’t pray enough, and when I do pray I feel as though I’m being terribly repetitive.  I read stories of the giants in church history who were known for being mighty men of prayer.  Men like John Knox and George Muller lived and died praying to the God they loved.  I am certainly encouraged and challenged by their example, but more often than not I become overwhelmed, discouraged, and ultimately frustrated by my lack of ability.  Did these men have something that I don’t?  Were they just more focused or did they just have more time on their hands?  Is there a secret to powerful prayer that has been eluding me?  Unfortunately, there is no cheat code to prayer.  There is no one time fix-all to having a perfectly consistent and effective prayer life.

However, I have found a technique that has helped me tremendously.

I pray the word of God.

Here are four advantages to praying the word of God, specifically through the Psalms.

1. Praying through God’s Word gives you a structured guide to prayer.

One of my biggest problems in prayer before was that I did not have much structure during my prayer time.  This caused me to lose focus faster and more frequently than I’d like to admit.  When I pray verse-by-verse it helps me to stay on course.  For example, when I pray through Psalm 67, I begin with verse one. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” I begin praying for God to be gracious and to bless me, my family, my church, and whatever else is close to my heart.  When I get done with that I go on to verse two.  I continue this until I’m done with the Psalm or I run out of time.  This method allows God’s infallible Word to be our guide in prayer.  John Sampey, former president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, once wrote, “If one wishes to learn how to approach God acceptably in worship, the Psalms are the best manual to put into his hands.”

2. Praying through God’s Word helps you to grow in the love of the Word.

Is there a better way to come to appreciate God’s Word more than to make it the center of your prayer life?  Martin Luther was a man of great resolve who stood opposed to the most powerful institution of his day.  His life is said to have been “full of dangers and conflicts with men and demons.”  Written on his personal Bible in his own hands are the words of Psalm 119:92: “Unless thy law had been my delight, I should have perished in mine affliction.”  When we pray the Word of God it has a way of burying itself into the depths of our heart and affections.  We begin to understand why the Psalmist loved the law of the Lord enough to pen Psalm 119.  It becomes our food and our drink.  We crave it and we uphold it as the perfect masterpiece that God himself sent to us in love.  We become enamored by the very heart of God by simply praying back to Him the Word that He has given us.

3. Praying through God’s Word helps you to have a more effective prayer life.

We as humans seem to be consumed by the idea of being as efficient as possible.  Our consumerist society is best characterized by Frank Gilbreth, the father in the beloved children’s novel Cheaper by the Dozen. We are told from a young age not to waste time, and we are tempted to feel it would be more productive to just do something other than prayer.  However, as a Christian we know that prayer is the most productive action that we can do.  We can petition that the all powerful Sovereign of the Universe would act in our lives.  How do we do that correctly though?  Pray the Word of God.  The Word of God is a “rich vocabulary of praise for stammering lips.”  When we don’t know what to pray, we can always pray the promises of God found in his scriptures.  What better reason can we give God to answer our prayers than, “Lord, based upon your unchanging Word.”

4. Praying through God’s Word helps you to have a more consistent prayer life.

Ultimately, we are an inconsistent and an imperfect people.  This can only change by the Holy Spirit growing us closer to God.  Jesus prayed in his high priestly prayer in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  Jesus did not say that we’d be sanctified by neat daily devotionals or by Christian books and he certainly did not say that we’d be sanctified by occupying a pew on Sunday morning.  It’s only by dwelling and abiding in the scriptures that we see spiritual growth in our lives.  In fact, it’s a love for God and what He has said that is a characteristic of one who has truly been saved.  Don’t spend your time waiting for a future unrevealed word from the Lord.  Dive into the truth that He’s already spoken in His Bible.

Obviously, a lot can be said about the attitude of prayer.  One cannot have any of these things if they have not been radically transformed by the grace of Christ.   Prayer is not the Christian equivalent to rubbing the lamp of a divine Robbin Williams-esque genie, and we must not treat this sacred act as such.  Discipline in prayer only comes to those who work at it.  Those that understand that prayer is a lifestyle and not just an escape hatch when we get ourselves into too much trouble.  These are the ones that will preservere and will honor their Lord by seeking his face continually.

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