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Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

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Prayer is one of the essential spiritual disciplines of the Christian and the church. Just how essential is explained by John Calvin as follows:

Words fail to explain how necessary prayer is, and in how many ways the exercise of prayer is profitable. Surely, with good reason the Heavenly Father affirms that the only stronghold of safety is in calling upon his name. By so doing we invoke the presence both of his providence, through which he watches over and guards our affairs, and of his power, through which he sustains us, weak as we are and well-nigh overcome, and of his goodness, through which he receives us, miserably burdened with sins, unto grace; and, in short, it is by prayer that we might call him to reveal himself as wholly present to us.

(Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, chapter XX, Sec. 2)

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Undoubtedly, one of the most important things we can do for fellow Christians is to pray for them. That’s true of pastors and elders – pray for those under your spiritual care. It’s true of parents – pray for your children. It’s true of grandparents – pray for your grandchildren. It’s true of every congregation – pray for your pastors and elders. It’s true of all of us – pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Here’s what the apostle Paul wrote: “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:19-20).

The “this” Paul referred to was his house arrest in Rome at the time he wrote this letter to the church in Philippi. His circumstances could have been worse, but they were still bad – he could have been in one of the many Roman prisons. Paul’s circumstances caused  anxiety among the Christians in Philippi. They were worried about him and about the spread of the gospel. As a result, they prayed for Paul, for which he was profoundly grateful. We know, too, that he prayed for them. When we pray for one another, we go before God’s throne of grace in intercession – pleading for them and asking that God’s will be done and that He be glorified.

Let me give you some ideas of what we can pray for each other:

  • That they would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
  • That they would glorify God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31).
  • That they would be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom. 12:2).
  • That the fruit of the Spirit would be developed and displayed in their life (Gal. 5:22-23).
  • That they would love God and others with all they have and all they are (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:28).
  • That they would give cheerfully and generously (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
  • That they would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10).
  • That they would delight in the Word of God (Ps. 1:2).
  • That they would fix their eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).
  • That they would trust God with everything in their life (Prov. 3:5-6).
  • That they would have the boldness to preach the Word of God with boldness and confidence (Acts 4:29).

This is only a small list, but it’s a good place to start. You’d love it if someone were to pray these things on your behalf, so do it for others!

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on the topic of praying the Psalms (which kicks off Prayer Week). Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: In the Psalms, David teaches us to stretch ourselves in prayer, grow in prayer, and recognize our dependence upon God in prayer.

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga of Southwest Hills Baptist Church preach on John 17:20-26. What follows is a summary of his sermon in the space of one sentence: What will you and I do this week to further the unity among His people that Jesus prayed for?

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As young Christians, we learned to pray mostly by listening to other believers pray. We learn to speak in the same way – by imitation.

We can also learn to pray, and learn some of the most important principles of prayer, as we read God’s Word. Listen to the apostle Paul’s words to the Christians in Philippi:  “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:3-5).

Every time he thought of the Philippian Christians, he was full of joy and thanked God. But what can we learn about prayer from these verses?

First, he prayed frequently“All my remembrance of you” and “in my every prayer for you all” make it clear that Paul prayed for them regularly – it wasn’t simply a one-time thing.

Second, he prayed comprehensively. Paul was careful in his prayers to mention everyone in the congregation, hence the phrase “for you all.” He wasn’t satisfied with a blanket prayer (“God, bless all of the Philippian believers”), or only pray for a few. No, he prayed for all of them.

Third, he prayed gratefully. Notice that he began by saying, “I thank my God.” Paul’s continuous prayer for them wasn’t grudging, it was grateful. He was genuinely thankful to God for them and how supportive they had been of him in his ministry to them and others.

Listen to the apostle Paul and learn from him. May our prayer increasingly be frequent, comprehensive, and grateful!

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga of Southwest Hills Baptist Church preach on John 17:13-19. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Jesus prayed that we – His people – would be safe, sanctified, and sent by His Word.

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga of Southwest Hills Baptist Church preach on John 17:1-5. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: The focus of Jesus’ entire life was to bring glory to God His Father and ours should be the same.

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