Archive for category Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, we lift up MainStreet to You and pray a hedge of protection around them. We thank You, Father, that You are a wall of fire round about MainStreet and that you set Your angels round about them. We thank You, Father, that MainStreet dwells in the secret place of the Most High and abides under the shadow of the Almighty. We say of You, Lord, You are their refuge and fortress, in You will they trust. You cover MainStreet with Your feathers, and under Your wings shall they trust. MainStreet shall not be afraid of the terror by night or the arrow that flies by day. Only with their eyes will MainStreet behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because MainStreet has made You, Lord, their refuge and fortress, no evil shall befall them — no accident will overtake them — neither shall any plague or calamity come near them. For you give Your angels charge over MainStreet, to keep them in all Your ways. Father, because You have set Your love upon MainStreet, therefore will You deliver them. MainStreet shall call upon You, and You will answer them. You will be with them in trouble and will satisfy MainStreet with a long life and show them Your salvation. Not a hair of their heads shall perish. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
This fall Nehemiah will be our guide and model for mobilizing MainStreet in the task of restoring the city of Mound for the glory of God. Nehemiah was living in the King’s winter palace when he got word of the broken down state of Jerusalem. Filled with compassion for the plight of Jerusalem, and filled with determination to do something about the problem, Nehemiah courageously asked the King to send him to Jerusalem with provisions to rebuild.
Upon his arrival in the city, he spent 3 days preparing his heart and mind to face the challenge ahead of him. Then he arose secretly in the cover of night, and with a small band of men, he went walking through the city examining the extent of the damage. Nehemiah was a man of prayer, and I would guess that his walk that night was filled with heart-felt prayer for the city lying in ruins, and for the strength and determination to complete the significant project ahead of him.
Similarly, God has filled a group of people with compassion for the spiritual state of the city of Mound. God has enlisted a strong team of people to begin the work of rebuilding the church of God in this community. Tonight we want to follow Nehemiah’s example, and make our own prayerful walk down the main street of Mound praying for revival in this city, for the mission of MainStreet, for those who don’t yet know Christ, and for this Sunday’s groundbreaking worship service. Here’s the story: Read the rest of this entry »
Let your Name be Holy,
May your Kingdom come,
May your will be done.
John Stott offers the following commentary for us to consider:
“The first three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer express our concern for God’s glory in relation to his name, rule and will….It is comparatively easy to repeat the words of the Lord’s Prayer like a parrot (or indeed a heathen ‘babbler’). To pray them with sincerity, however, has revolutionary implications, for it expresses the priorities of a Christian. We are constantly under pressure to conform to the self-centeredness of secular culture. When that happens we become concerned about about our own little name (liking to see it embossed on our notepaper or hitting the headlines in the press, and defending it when it is attacked), about our own little empires (bossing, ‘influencing’ and manipulating people to boost our ego), and about our own silly little will (always wanting our own way and getting upset when it is frustrated). But in the Christian counter-culture our top priority concern is not our name, kingdom and will, but God’s. Whether we can pray these petitions with integrity is a searching test of the reality and depth of our Christian profession” (John Stott, The Message of Sermon on the Mount, pp. 147-148).
Which of these 3 come more difficult for you? Surrendering your personal NAME, KINGDOM or WILL?
Yesterday in the Twitterverse the following quote was going around:
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
It’s alleged that this quote comes from Kierkegaard, though I haven’t seen a reference appended to it anywhere.
The first time I saw the quote, I jumped into a good conversation about it. Then after the third time I saw it, I was done.
If I may put it provocatively: the quote is a cop out. It transforms prayer from a dangerous act in which we summon the God of all the earth to act now upon the earth over which God is sovereign into something that’s just for shaping our little hearts. This is the worst sort of existentialism working itself out in a theology of prayer. The real thing isn’t that God would be intimately involved in the real world, acting on behalf of those upon whom God has set God’s name. No, the real thing would be getting ourselves aligned with some transhistorical God who won’t be bothered to engage the lives of God’s people.
If Kierkegaard is right, Christianity is not worth believing, and prayer is not worth doing. Read the rest of this entry »
If my people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chr. 7: 14).
The classic Bible passage for the National Day of Prayer is 2 Chronicles 7:14. This scripture calls for a corporate display of humility and dependence upon God. The entire nation of Israel is here invited to national repentance from self-sufficiency and to turn as one people to seek God’s face through prayer. The hope, of course, is that the floodgates of God’s mercy and blessings will once again be poured out on the land.
I love BIG VISION, crying out for BIG REVIVAL, organizing BIG NATIONAL gatherings and inviting God to move in BIG WAYS. The National Day of Prayer is the one day a year where we dream big dreams of more widespread revival and renewal — not just for private prayers for close family and relatives. Tonight I will gather with friends in my community to pray for the government, the schools, the community, the future and revival. Once a year we are invited to lay BIG national causes at the foot of our mighty God and think more globally. Read the rest of this entry »
We all know the famous Beatles refrain: “Love, love, love, all you need is love.” There is a lot of truth to this statement, but it has to be qualified in some major ways. Long before Paul and the boys wrote their song, a more ancient Paul wrote his own mega-hit “Love Song” beautifully describing how “love never fails” (1 Cor 13). Yet love is a very slippery word that is often twisted, cheapened and distorted these days. While it may sound blasphemous at first, I would say that disordered love is the root of all evils (cf. 1 Tim 6:10). What is greed but a selfish love preventing one from giving in love to others? What is pride but an unhealthy love of oneself? Resentment remains when one chooses to love their bitterness toward another rather than choosing to
love their offender enough to forgive the offense. Similar evils stem from a disordered love of money, acceptance, sex, success, fame, status, nation, race, security and so on. So, the Beatles need to clarify the kind of love it is that we really need.
In today’s verse, Paul prays that the Philippians Jesus-followers would overflow more and more with the kind of love that is rooted in knowledge and insight. Why? Presumably because most of the time our love is rooted in something else-say, our desires, feelings, urges and impulses. If we are honest with ourselves, we can agree that we live in a culture where love is sold at discount price anywhere and everywhere.
The cheapest love you can buy is the kind that looks and feels really good at the moment and seems to come with little effort or sacrifice. For example, while true sexual intimacy comes by waiting patiently for one’s wedding night, we often settle by giving in to the temptation during a high school fling. Or, whereas love of ourselves comes naturally, the Christ-like love we are called to imitate learns to love one’s enemies-which is much more difficult. Or, we find momentary pleasure (or love) surfing pornographic Internet sights, when purity comes from sacrifice and resisting temptation.
Paul prays that we will not only love much, but that we will love well. We are called to have our minds conformed to the mind of Christ, so that our mind can tell our heart what is truly good and worthy of our love and devotion. That means that our minds must keep our heart’s desires in line, or else our heart will become captive to our flaky whims and natural desires which are, according to the Bible, marred by sin (Rom 6). The Bible warns elsewhere that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it” (Jer 17:9)?
Well, this is where Paul goes further than the Beatles. Paul desires that we would firmly anchor our affections, desires, longings, aspirations — our love! — all in a deep knowledge of God and what he has accomplished in Christ, and what he is thereby now calling us toward.
What is the point of anchoring our love in a deep knowledge of God and having greater vision into the deeper realities? Paul tells us: “…So that you can decide what is best” (Phil 1:10a). Wow, now this is a counter-cultural aim! Love what is best!? Not what is most pleasurable? Not what feels nice? Not what is easiest? Not what is most comfortable? Not what brings us more gain? Not what makes us look good to others? In a culture that seeks after what is cheaper, quicker, easier, more pleasurable and self-serving, Paul’s prayer for a higher love fits into our culture about as naturally as an elephant in a China Shop!
Paul knows that following the Revolutionary Rabbi is not the easier, more natural, more self-serving route. Yet, in the end, he has a deep knowledge and insight into the larger Story and is convinced that a life rooted “in Christ” is the only life worth living — “the life that is truly life” (John 10:10). Do we have that same knowledge and insight?
Do the things we love and chase after in our daily lives stem from a deeper well of knowledge and insight rooted in God’s revealed truth?
Or are we abounding more and more in the kind of love that is rooted in lesser things — convenience, pleasure, selfish gain, popularity, acceptance, etc?
So, I pray with Paul that we would all learn to choose “what is best.”
Pull up a slab of rock, light a candle and grab a quill, ink and a scrap of papyrus to take notes. We’re journeying together back to the year AD 58 to a Roman prison cell to listen in as Paul pens his letter to the Philippians. What can his letter speak to us some 2,000 years later?
“This is my prayer for you” (Phil 1:9a)…
The Apostle Paul, next to Jesus himself, is my spiritual hero and greatest role model. This guy was out killing followers of Jesus one day, and then after encountering the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he turned 180 degrees and went on to bring the good news of Jesus and his Kingdom to the entire known world of his day.
So, when Paul speaks I listen. Furthermore, when Paul opens his mouth to pray for others, I perk up and listen to what kinds of things Paul prays for. I think we all struggle with prayer. In high school, I didn’t really get past the “good night prayers” — you know, the bedtime ritual of looking up at the ceiling and basically wishing God a good night’s sleep (as if God sleeps). Sometimes, in more inspired moods, I would manage to thank God for his blessings, and offer some prayers for myself and my loved ones.
Still, I think we all desire to move deeper into our prayer life with God. While I rarely “hear” something from God during my prayer time, I nevertheless manage to focus my heart on certain things — godly things. Prayer can center us on God, and turn our focus away from all the busyness of life. Like a radio, praying can help tune our spiritual and mental dials to the sweet rhythms of God, eliminating for a moment all the static and buzz. Prayer can also reveal where are hearts really are that day. Fears, anxiety, doubts and desires we have managed to hide deep inside us often creep up to the surface as we open ourselves to God. This is good, too.
Though, if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes our prayers can be just as hurried, self-focused, distracted and misaligned as the rest of our lives. In these moments, we need God’s Spirit to help realign our hearts to God, so our prayers are in tune with God’s purposes for us. Paul teaches this elsewhere:
[T]he Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will” (Rom 8:26-27).
In our verse for today, Paul, led by the Spirit, offers up a very direct prayer on behalf of his Christian brothers and sisters at Philippi. “This is my prayer for you…” Our prayers reveal our deepest desires. Our desires reveal the contours of our heart. Our heart reveals who we really are. So, before we explore the content of Paul’s actual prayer, perhaps we need to just sit and reflect today on the following questions:
If you were to offer up just ONE prayer for your best friend, knowing that you would soon die and that prayer would be your final request made to God on your friend’s behalf, how would you pray?
If you were to ask God to grant a loved one just THREE things, which THREE things would they be?