Reblog: The Busy Mom’s Guide to Prayer

by Melissa

When I was younger, I prayed a lot. I would set aside a chunk of time in my day, usually in the evening, and I would get out my list or my notebook, and I would speak long and sincere prayers for my friends and family, for missionaries, ministers, strangers, and world leaders. I would sometimes kneel beside my bed and cry out to God for hurting people. I would always make good on my promise to pray for others when they asked me to. And, at times I would keep detailed notes of what I prayed about and, later, how God had answered my prayers.

Times have changed.

Read the rest here.

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Reblog: The Power of Public Prayer in the Church

by Kent Hughes and from Westminster Theological Seminary

Our public prayers in our corporate worship services have a massive impact on the prayer lives of God’s people, in that such prayers teach the church how to approach our transcendent but immanent God. They also bring power to our churches. The immense importance of the corporate prayers of the body of Christ rests on Scripture’s direct accounts of the power wrought by such prayers and the apostolic dependence on the prayers of the church.

The Power of Public Prayer

The book of Acts tells us that it was after a mighty corporate prayer for boldness (Acts 4:24–30) that “the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (v. 31). Acts also recounts how the church’s corporate prayers brought deliverance for the imprisoned apostle Peter. The manacled apostle felt an angel tap him on the side, heard his chains rattle to the ground, and saw the iron prison gate automatically open for him (12:7–10). After Peter collected himself and went to the house of Mary, he found the church praying for him (v. 12).

There is mighty power when the church comes together for focused, corporate prayer. . .when the people are truly engaged and praying in concert, great grace is poured out.

The same thing happened to Pastor Zebedayo Idu, who, having been imprisoned by a Marxist dictator (who had given orders for his immediate execution), suddenly found himself free and on the street due to a “mechanical” malfunction. As he ran back to his village, he glanced into the church, where he saw his congregation united in fervent intercession for him.

The apostle Paul’s intimate knowledge of the power of corporate prayer prompted him to conclude his teaching on spiritual warfare with the ringing challenge for his readers to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication . . . for all the saints” (Eph. 6:17b–18). And then, very significantly, Paul asked for the church’s prayer for himself, adding, “And [pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (v. 19).

There is mighty power when the church comes together for focused, corporate prayer, because when the prayers are not perfunctory but thought through, and when the people are truly engaged and praying in concert, great grace is poured out on world mission, local evangelism, national leaders, the preaching of the Word, the sanctification of God’s people, and the ill and grieving.

Preparing for Public Prayer

Preparation for public prayer requires preparation of the heart and of the head. Preparation of prayers apart from the heart may result in accuracy and eloquence, but of a frigid sort. Preparation of the heart is indispensable, but apart from some thought, prayers may be pious and vacuous. Pulpit prayer requires a melding of both types of preparation.

Preparing Your Spirit

The public prayers of the pastor must be a reflection of his private prayer; public prayer must flow from our communion and intercession with God in secret. Congregational prayers can be theologically precise and beautiful but hollow if they are not rooted in the heart and practice of the pastor.

The takeaways for those of us who are charged with leading in corporate prayer are significant:

  • We must be pastors who have deep, regular, private communion with God.
  • The emotion that we express in public prayer must be consonant with the feeling that we express in private prayer. We must be real.
  • Apart from personal, family, and confidential matters, the things that we pray for in public must be consistent with the things we have been praying for in private. Our private prayer burdens should inform our public prayer burdens.
  • We must be utterly engaged in our prayers, so that God fills our horizons, not our “audience.”
  • We must ask God to work in our hearts first those things that we would like worked in the hearts of our people.
  • We must go “prayed up” and prepared when we stand before God’s people to lead them in prayer.

We are saying that thought-through public prayers will enrich and elevate public worship and the prayer life of the congregation.

Preparing Your Prayers

When we speak of “preparing prayers,” we are not referring to set prayers that are sometimes used for invocation or confession, but prayers that the pastor may compose for any part of corporate worship, including invocations and confessions.

First, we must understand how not to pray, a negative that must certainly inform the subject of preparation. Significantly, just before Jesus told his disciples how they ought to pray, giving them the example of the Lord’s Prayer, he told them how they ought not to pray: “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matt. 6:7). Jesus warned against two kinds of prayers: those full of empty phrases (today’s pious, vacuous jargon) and lengthy prayers (inflated by such empty jargon). This is not an argument against extemporaneous prayer, but a warning to take care as to the words and content of our prayers. This can best be done by writing out our prayers.

At this point, readers may think that we are down on extemporaneous prayers in public worship. We are not. If we are Spirit-filled Christians, our waking hours are filled with extemporaneous prayer, and not just before meals and meetings. As pastors, we may be called on to offer extemporaneous prayer several times a day. In this sense, extemporaneous prayer is a barometer of spiritual health. It can even be said that at times an extemporaneous prayer is the height of spiritual expression and heartfelt devotion.

We are saying that thought-through public prayers will enrich and elevate public worship and the prayer life of the congregation. In fact, preparation often provides the ground for remarkable extemporaneous prayers. And because of this, we pastors should embrace the discipline of writing out our prayers.

Years ago, in the Princeton days of Miller, it was noted that Rev. John Gillies, a visiting Scottish preacher, prayed with remarkable pastoral grace and depth. When asked why that was, after demurring, he explained that if there was anything in his public prayer different from the prayers of others, it was due, “under God,” to the fact that in the first ten years of his ministry he never wrote a sermon “without writing a prayer, in part or in whole, corresponding with it in its general strain.” This kind of discipline pours grace on the gathered worship of the church.

Having made the case for the discipline of writing out our prayers for public worship, we are not suggesting that those prayers be read verbatim. They can be used as “security blankets” in making sure that we pastors stay on target. They can even be reduced to suggestive outlines or their contours committed to memory. In any case, they must be internalized so that they come from the depths of our hearts with much affection. Likewise, the set prayers and prayers of confession must never be “said,” but prayed with the full engagement of our minds and hearts. Our people can sense the difference.

Find the original post here.

Reblog: Seven Ways To Pray for Your Prayer Life

From Challies.com

Here are seven ways that you can pray about your prayer life. These are seven items you can add to your prayer list as you consider your own prayer life or another person’s.

1) Pray that your prayers would be the expressions of a humble heart.

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6)

2) Pray that God would remind you that he doesn’t want or need your eloquent prayers.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

3) Pray that you would remember what the really important requests are.

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
(Matthew 6:9-13)

4) Pray that you would remember biblical examples of answered prayer.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. … Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:13-14, 17-18)

5) Pray that God would give you confidence in his sovereign power.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

6) Pray that God would help you to persevere in your praying.

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.” (Luke 18:1-8)

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

Reblog: 18 Things to Pray for Your Church

by The Gospel Coalition

What to Pray For:

1. That we would have unity amid diversity—loving those with whom we have nothing in common but the gospel.

2. That a culture of discipling would form in which making disciples is viewed as an ordinary part of the Christian life.

3. That faithful elders would use Scripture to train members to do the work of ministry.

4. That a hunger for studying the gospel would form among members so that they can guide and guard one another in it.

5. That transparent, meaningful relationships would become normal and remaining anonymous strange.

6. The preaching of God’s Word—that it would be biblically careful and Holy Spirit imbued.

7. That elders would remain above reproach, kept from temptation, complacency, idols, and worldliness.

8. That the church’s songs would teach members to biblically confess, lament, and praise.

9. That the church’s prayers would be infused with biblical ambitions, honesty, and humility.

10. That adult members would work to disciple teenagers and not just leave it to programming.

11. That the church’s primary teachers grow in dedication to God’s Word even when no one’s watching.

12. That it would grow in being distinct from the world in love and holiness, even as it engages outsiders.

13. That members would share the gospel this week—and see more conversions!

14. That members would be prepared for persecution, remembering to love, not curse, their persecutors.

15. That hopes for political change would be outstretched by the hope of heaven.

16. That giving would be faithful, as well as joyful, consistent, and sacrificial.

17. That more members would use their careers to take the gospel to places it’s never been.

18. That members would be good and do good in their workplaces this week.

They include some commentary on the items first. I skipped that part here. To see the complete blog post go here.

Reblog: 25 Quick Tips and Reminders to Help Your Prayer Life

by Gospel Relevance

1. Prayer is not just an invitation, but a command.

2. Not every “impression” and “feeling” and “interrupted thought” during prayer is God speaking to you.

3. Reading books on prayer is great, but they won’t help much if you don’t actually pray.

4. There’s no such thing as an “unanswered prayer.” God answers every prayer with yes, no, or later.

5. Private prayer is not enough. Attend your church’s prayer meeting, prayer with people in your small group, etc.

6. Public prayer is not enough. Pray in private.

7. To start prayer with praise is commendable, but not a pre-requisite. Sometimes, life is too hard, and you can start with tears or screams or whatever is on your heart.

8. Listen to trusted Christian friends when they pray and learn from them.

9. Prayer while driving is helpful, but can be a distraction. Set up a place and time for intimacy.

10. Don’t pray, “Lord, please bless this food as nourishment to my body” if you’re eating pizza and french fries for dinner.

11. Never become so holy that you outgrow your need to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

12. Pray for wisdom – about everything (James 1:5). This will change your life.

13. When people ask you to pray for them, pray for them right then and there, on the spot, if you can.

Find the rest here.

Reblog: Bearing Burdens

From Ligonier Blog

Paul says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Amazingly, the Heidelberg Catechism says, “all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race” (Q&A 37). Jesus lived under the weight of our sins.

There are two practical lessons here for us as Christians. First, since Christ has borne our sins once and for all, we are to continue laying on Him all our burdens from day to day: “[Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7; cf. Ps. 55:22). We need to pray daily for His help in bearing our burdens; and then, when we have done that, we need to continue praying.

Read the rest here.

Reblog: 9 Things You Should Know About Prayer in the Bible

From the Gospel Coalition:

Do you know how many prayer are mentioned in the Bible (and how many were answered)? Here’s the answer to that question and other things you should know about the prayer in the Bible.

1. There are 650 prayers listed in the Bible. (Here is the entire list and where they can be found.)

2. There are approximately 450 recorded answers to prayer in the Bible.

3. The first time prayer is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 4:26 (earlier dialogues where initiated directly by God, e.g., Genesis 3:8-13, Genesis 4:9).

4. The Bible records Jesus praying 25 different times during his earthly ministry.

read the rest here.

Reblog: New Life Daily Mediation

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Prayer and Meditation

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. – Habakkuk 2:20

Although we don’t think about it much, our communication with God consists of two equally important parts: prayer and meditation. Prayer is talking to God. Most of us have this aspect down. Meditation is listening to God.  And it’s here that most of us need a bit of work.

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person does all the talking? It gets old fast, doesn’t it?  The one up side is you become a good listener while the other person gets everything off his/her chest. But there’s a down side too: always listening and never talking leads you to begin to feel unknown, a little unloved, and sometimes, even used.

Now, think about how this applies to your relationship with God. Are you doing all the talking, without ever taking the time to listen? If you’re sharing with Him from the depths of your heart, that’s fantastic!  By all means, keep it up.  Just make sure, that you also take the time to use the ears of your heart to listen to God as well.

Remember, God tends to speak with a still, small voice; He very rarely shouts at His children. I heard it explained this way once, “God is a gentleman.” That’s why meditation is such an important aspect of prayer.  It teaches you to develop a quiet, patient heart and an open, attentive ear. These are essential components to growing in your walk with the Lord.

Reblog: 12 Reasons You Should Pray Scripture

bible1. You should pray Scripture because God’s people in the OT and NT did.

It’s not always logical to argue that we should do something merely because the Bible records God’s people doing it. Sometimes OT narratives or the book of Acts describe practices without prescribing them. But I can’t think of a one good reason that we shouldn’t emulate these two examples.

First, an example from the OT: When the Israelites confess their sins in Neh 9, the Levites lead the people in prayer (Neh 9:5–37). The entire prayer is scripturally informed (e.g., 9:11),1 and verse 17 quotes previous Scripture:

They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies . . . . (Neh 9:17–18, emphasis added)

Read the rest here.

This was an encouragement to me  ~Beth

Sadness in My Heart

It is with sadness, this week, that the Homeschool Community and the Family Intergrated Church community learn of Doug Phillip’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, and the reasons behind such a move.  Our family along with others we know looked up to this man for leadership and wisdom.  It’s not that leaders don’t fall or make mistakes, the mess left behind is just bigger and more encompassing than could be imaged.  If you haven’t read the resignation you can do so here.  I don’t want to prolong this post but will especially be praying for the Phillips family and church family as heads and hearts are presumably broken too.

Re-blog: Reframing Our Work

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Reframing Our Work

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Too often we view our work as a curse rather than a divine calling.  Renowned author Dorothy Sayers is precisely right in observing that we need “a thoroughgoing revolution in our whole attitude to work.”  Namely, that our work should be viewed not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which we find personal delight and magnify God’s glory.  Sayer’s believes work, “should be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that. . . [men and women], made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.”
With the right attitude your work can be a source of personal blessing and a vehicle for glorifying God.
“Train yourself to recognize the hand of God in everything that happens to you.” – Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
This came in my email  box this morning.  It is well expressed and a good reminder for me.  May I take joy in all I find to do.   ~Beth

A Prayer From the Puritans…

Resting on God

O God, most high, most glorious, the thought of Thine infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but Thou art for ever at perfect peace. Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills. Thy power knows no bond, Thy goodness no stint. Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

I come to Thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to Thee, every sin calling for Christ’s precious blood; revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear His voice, know its tones, follow its calls. Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit. Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities, burning into me by experience the things I know; Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee. Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to Thee, that all else is trifling. Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. Abide in me, gracious God.

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.