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Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

Desires

The following prayer is taken from Valley of Vision – a collection of Puritan prayers complied by Arthur Bennett. I highly recommend it.

O THOU THAT HEAREST PRAYER,

Teach me to pray.
I confess that in religious exercises
the language of my lips and the feelings
of my heart have not always agreed,
that I have frequently taken carelessly upon
my tongue a name never pronounced above
without reverence and humility,
that I have often desired things which would
have injured me,
that I have depreciated some of my chief mercies,
that I have erred both on the side of my hopes
and also of my fears,
that I am unfit to choose for myself,
for it is not in me to direct my steps.
Let thy Spirit help my infirmities,
for I know not what to pray for as I ought.
Let him produce in me wise desires by which
I may ask right things,
then I shall know thou hearest me.
May I never be importunate for temporal blessings,
but always refer them to thy fatherly goodness,
for thou knowest what I need before I ask;
May I never think I prosper unless my soul prospers,
or that I am rich unless rich toward thee,
or that I am wise unless wise unto salvation.
May I seek first thy kingdom and its righteousness.
May I value things in relation to eternity.
May my spiritual welfare be my chief solicitude.
May I be poor, afflicted, despised and have
thy blessing,
rather than be successful in enterprise,
or have more than my heart can wish,
or be admired by my fellow-men,
if thereby these things make me forget thee.
May I regard the world as dreams, lies, vanities,
vexation of spirit,
and desire to depart from it.
And may I seek my happiness in thy favour,
image, presence, service.

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declaration

Sunday, December 9th, the Chinese Communist government arrested one hundred members of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China. Other arrests have taken place since then. Among those arrested were Early Rain’s senior pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong. They have not been heard from since their arrests. Wang Yi is a well-known and influential pastor, both inside and outside of China. Since February, the Chinese government has ramped up its crackdown on the Chinese church (yes, even those churches who are registered). Good information can be found at China Partnership, Steve Childers’ website, China Aid, and World magazine. All of these sources have reported that persecution has spread to other churches, pastors, and schools.

Several months ago, Pastor Wang Yi wrote a letter to to his church in the event that he was detained for more than 48 hours. It’s called “My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience,” and you should read it. After you’ve read it, pass it on to others so they can read it. We in the United States need this kind of wisdom and maturity. You can read his declaration here.

The last elder of Early Rain Covenant Church, Li Yingqiang, wrote this letter to the church hours before he was arrested, on the subject of how the church should respond to persecution.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in China, that they would remain faithful, obedient, and bring glory to God.

Please pray also for the the church here in America. We need this kind of wisdom and thinking.

 

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Ro8.34

“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13)

It’s wonderful to hear that someone is praying for you. Sometimes you can almost feel it. Their willingness to go before the throne of God on your behalf is a tremendous blessing. It means something when we pray for each other.

But there’s Someone else who’s praying for us, too – the Lord Jesus Christ. In his epistle to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul said, Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;  who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:33-34). 

If you belong to Jesus Christ, you can be confident that He’s praying for you (see also Hebrews 7:25; John 17:20-26 and 1 John 2:1), just as He prayed for His disciples (Luke 22:31-32; 23:34; John 14:16; 17:6-19). Better than anyone, He knows precisely what and when to pray. He knows when we’re tempted and what it is that tempts us. He knows when we need strength or comfort or exhortation. He also knows His plan and purpose for us, meaning that He knows what we really need (not always what we think we need).

How wonderful is it to know Jesus is praying for you? How much of a blessing is it? It should be encouraging to us, to say the least! Knowing we’re being prayed for by our brothers and sisters in Christ and by Christ Himself gives us both confidence and hope.

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View-Before-2

Opening the refrigerator accomplishes several things: you find out what’s in it; you get something you need (or more likely, not something you actually need but simply something you want at that moment); and you can be reminded of something because of everything you have attached to the door.

We have at least four postcards from various missionaries attached to the door of our refrigerator. We put them there, instead of stacked on a shelf somewhere, to serve as a reminder to pray for them. We don’t always follow through on that, but that’s the idea.

Pray for missionaries you know and support (whether that support comes in the form of prayer, finances, both, or more) – they need it! In most cases, they’ve sacrificed much to serve the Lord, the work isn’t easy, and the results are often difficult to discern.

So then, how can you pray for your missionaries? Here are a few suggestions. Pray that they would:

  • Love God and others with everything they have and are.
  • Glorify God in every area of their lives.
  • Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Remain faithful to God and His Word.
  • Grow in their trust of God.
  • Be devoted to prayer.
  • Have a strong marriage and family life.
  • Avoid extremes in life and doctrine.
  • Pray for other missionaries and agencies.
  • Not be jealous or envious of other ministries or missionaries.
  • Not be proud.
  • Grow in humility.
  • Work hard and leave the results to God.

There are dozens of other things we could pray, but these are a good start.

One final thing: Make sure to let your missionaries know you’re praying for them and ask them how you can pray more specifically. They’ll appreciate it!

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How can I pray for you? We should ask that question to our brothers and sisters in Christ more often than we do. We may be surprised at the answers we get.

But we should also be thinking about what we can pray for others. There are times when we’re at a loss as to specifically what we can ask God on their behalf. One answer comes from the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:9-11. He says, And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

We can pray for ourselves, our family, our church, our pastors, elders, and deacons, our Bible study group, our teachers, our classmates, our parents, our friends, our co-workers, and anyone else we can think of, and ask God:

  • Would give them a love of God and others that will abound still more.
  • That their love would abound and grow in real knowledge.
  • That their love would grow in all discernment.
  • That they may approve what is excellent.
  • That they would be sincere and blameless all the way up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
  • That they would give glory and praise to God.
  • What better things could we ask God to give and develop in the lives of our fellow believers (as well as our own life)? That’s what we can pray for each other coram Deo (before the face of God).

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john-calvin-44

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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Intercessory-prayer_825_460_80_c1

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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