a prayer amidst the killing

 

Father God, my mind is flooded tonight with words and my heart is heavy with them.

ISIS. Massacre. Genocide. Air strikes. War.

In the name of Jesus, I ask that you give wisdom to all this world’s leaders who seek peace.

Confound and confuse, divide and defeat, all who seek the death of innocents.

Shield and deliver the harassed and oppressed, the abused and persecuted.

Protect all who seek to bring relief.

Intervene in this lost world’s ways and stop this cancer of killing. Deliver us from evil.

Amen.

LIFE group guide: steady prayer – how to make it a reality (2)

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (May 25) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To offer practical guidance in the reasons for, and development of, daily prayers.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  … the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. (Luke 18.1 NAB)

•  … be patient in suffering; give constant energy to prayer. (Romans 12.12b KNT)

•  … to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever … (Ephesians 3.20-21 NRSV)

•  … be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6.18b NIV)

•  Keep on praying and guard your prayers with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4.2 CEB)

•  Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5.17-18 NAB)

•  You do not get what you want, because you do not pray for it. Or, if you do, your requests are not granted, because you pray with wrong motives, in order to squander what you get on your pleasures. (James 4.2-3 REB)

•  This is the bold confidence that we have before him: if we ask for something according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we already possess the requests we have asked from him. (1 John 5.14-15 KNT)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. “Given the opportunity, I would love to be able to talk with ____, often and at length.”

2. “It seems to me that this attitude – ________ – is crucial to prayer.”

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Read Rom. 12.9-18. What actions keep steady company with steady prayer (vs.12b)?

2. Read 1 Thes. 5.12-22 (vs.17b-18’s context). In the midst of what specific sort of circumstances was Paul telling the Christians in the Thessalonian church to pray?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. Think of prayer as a “thing.” What are some of the essential components of this thing?

2. Aside from time, how might, or how does, spontaneous and scheduled prayer differ?

3. We’re called to “guard” our prayers (Col. 4.2). Guard against what?

4. Can prayer ever be “dangerous?” Should it be? Explain.

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Keep a log for one month of when and what you pray in your scheduled prayers.

2. Work hard to make prayer the very first thing you do when you wake up every day.

doing something vs. praying (doing nothing)

 

If you’re a Christian, more than once you’ve likely heard, or thought, of prayer as the opposite of work.

God have mercy!

For prayer is surely some of the hardest work done on this planet. And we all know it. Perhaps we have just momentarily forgotten the fact.

  • Ever pray when your body was weary, your eyes were heavy, and there were a thousand things crying for your attention? Then you know prayer requires real effort.
  • Ever pray while you were so burdened with your own shortcomings, failures, and sins that your prayers seemed empty or meaningless? Then you truly exerted yourself.
  • Ever pray when the words simply would not come, no matter how hard you tried? Then you knew the industry of prayer.
  • Ever kept talking to God when he seemed silent and non-responsive when it was your loved one who was gravely ill or in danger? That was truly hard labor.

Still not persuaded? Then try telling Jesus, the one in whose name you pray, that prayer isn’t work.

  • Tell him as you recall him daily getting up before others did to walk to a quiet place to pray. This was not done without deliberate, disciplined effort.
  • Tell him as you see him sweating blood in prayer in Gethsemane’s Garden. This was not done without a workman’s pirit of love, determination, and grit.
  • Tell him as you overhear him pray the most difficult of prayers – praying forgiveness for one’s enemies – with labored breath on his cross. This was not done without years of toil and testing in the field ahead of time for that very moment.
  • Tell him as your grasp the fact he intercedes for you still. This is far from “nothing;” more like the most precious of “something.”

So shout it from the rooftop: prayer, rightly done, is difficult, daily labor. And perhaps that’s why more prayers are not offered – because it is w-o-r-k!

After all, it is not an effortless thing just to try to wrap our head around the idea that the Most High Holy One works at listening to us. And what are we? Dust. But surely the vainest of things is to work in his name without praying, for what are our efforts without the work of the Lord mingled with them?

Prayer is work; make no mistake about it. And make not the mistake of not working at it.

mothers I love to find

 

I love to stumble across – finding – mothers doing their “mothering” in a way that truly honors God. I don’t know exactly what it is, but there’s something exceedingly powerful to me about watching a mother train up a child in the way they should go. It speaks deeply to me and gives me great joy. And so, I especially love to find mothers who pray with, and for, their children.

  • Mothers who cannot imagine starting their day, and the day for their children, without carving out a minute to pray with them.
  • Mothers whose own prayers, as well as those she leads her children in, are composed with adoration and praise of God, as well as thanksgiving and request.
  • Mothers who jot down a sentence prayer for their child on a sticky note and stick it somewhere for their child to happen upon during the course of their day or who include a portion of their prayer in a text message.
  • Mothers who pray strategic prayers (planned prayers that address the broader, and particularly formative, matters of life; the forks in the road) as well as tactical prayers (spontaneous prayers formed, and said, in the moment regarding very specific matters; the mile markers).
  • Mothers who cannot imagine ending their day, and the day for their children, without carving out a minute to pray with them.

Lord, may I find more mothers like this. More and more. Amen.

“Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time.” (Ephesians 6.18)

how to pray for your church’s leaders

 

Do you have a deliberate, regular plan you work as to how you pray for your church’s shepherds and staff? Or if you’re a church leader, how would you like fellow church members to daily pray for you?

I recently noticed that Thom Rainer relates in his fine book I Am a Church Member (p.51) that he has for many years regularly asked church members to deliberately pray five minutes a day, every day, for their leaders. Imagine every church member praying daily for their church’s leadership. Amen!

But if you were to start praying for shepherds and staff, what would you pray about each day? If you don’t already have a plan, let me suggest a plan I follow whereby I talk to God about seven specific matters regarding our church family’s leaders. To keep it simple and steady, each day of the week has a specific point of focus. Pick up this plan – or let it spark one of your own – and run with it!

  • Sunday – guidance from God’s Spirit and godly influence with people
  • Monday – spiritual development, growth & maturity
  • Tuesday – purity & holiness of life, protection from Satan’s traps, & escape from temptation
  • Wednesday – provision for their physical needs & ways
  • Thursday – discernment, insight, knowledge, tendencies & wisdom
  • Friday – family (marriage, children, extended family & closest friends)
  • Saturday – strength of emotional, mental & physical health