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Archive | Prayer

Martin Luther on Prayer

No doubt we will hear a fair bit about Martin Luther in the coming months, but I don’t think he’s featured too much on Gentle Reformation so far, so perhaps I can share a few notes I recently came across on some points Luther made about prayer.

Prayer is a duty

Luther understood prayer first and foremost as a duty, because God has commanded us to do it. It’s more than a duty, of course, but it is not less. The third commandment not only forbids us from using God’s name in an empty and meaningless way – it also requires us to praise the holy name of God and call upon it all our needs. Prayer is just as clearly and solemnly commanded as having no other gods, not murdering or stealing, and we need to have a greater sense of that than we do. Luther wrote, ‘From fact that prayer is so urgently commanded, we ought to conclude that we should by no means despise our prayers, but rather prize them highly.’ Even more strongly, Luther declared, ‘He who does not pray should know that he is no Christian and does not belong in the kingdom of God.’

I wonder […]

Our Heart Telescope

In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, making it unique among attempts to peer into the universe. As Hubble orbits the Earth, it does so above the atmosphere, which distorts and even blocks the light that reaches our planet and is what makes the stars seem to twinkle.  This orbit allows Hubble to give a view of the galaxies that far surpass that of conventional telescopes on the ground that struggle with atmospheric distortion.

So 353 miles above the Earth, Hubble orbits our globe every 97 minutes (which is about five miles per second, meaning it goes across the United States in about 10 minutes).  Hubble has caused the knowledge of outer space to explode, as it has captured images never seen before of newly discovered galaxies and space phenomenon. Scientists have realized what is out there is far more beautiful, complex, and grand in magnitude than they had even imagined. For instance, they discovered there are ten times more galaxies in the observable universe. Who knows what lies beyond what our telescopes can observe now? It took getting beyond earth’s atmosphere for scientists to see new things.

As the Hubble telescope is to astronomy, so is the Spirit to the heart […]

Man Up!

What does a real man look like in today’s (western) culture? A macho tough guy who never cries; he doesn’t let anyone tell him what to do – not his wife or his workmates or his buddies and certainly not God. He does what he likes with his money and his free time. If he wants to spend every night watching sports or his favourite TV shows or playing X-Box, that’s his right.

It would be easy to let the world’s expectations and stereotypes shape what we are as Christian men, even though the word of God challenges these cultural norms at every point. It would be so easy to just copy the models of masculinity we see all around us—our own fathers, our friends, our fictional heroes from TV and the sporting world—rather than searching the Scriptures to see what a real man is meant to be. A whole series on this topic would be helpful for those of us who need all the help we can get in learning to be men, but let me mention just one way the God who invented masculinity when he made human beings male and female tells us we are to act like […]

Kill the Midweek Prayer Meeting?

“The church started to grow when we killed the midweek prayer meeting.” Those words might seem anathema to some, but this was the sentiment of the pastor of my youth. The late Dave Long looked back on three decades of ministry in one congregation with those words. His assessment was true because more people participated in the small group Bible studies that replaced the Wednesday prayer meeting. The small groups always included prayer, and the net result was a more prayerful congregation that prayed more specifically and personally for one another and others to whom we were ministering. For that to happen, a long-established tradition had to go.

Church leadership often laments a lack of participation in midweek prayer meetings because we know the power God gives through prayer. Perhaps we can overemphasize one good-but-not-required way of doing things. The one divinely ordained corporate prayer meeting is public worship on the Lord’s Day. On that appointed day, the congregation calls on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26, Psalm 65:2-4, 1 Corinthians 1:2), and God’s people gather at the house of the Lord which is a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17). Paul and Silas supposed that […]

Refreshment on Revival

At last…..  almost a month without proper internet access & the stress of moving to a new house. Which reminds me of a few thoughts I had some time ago on Revival from Zechariah 1.1-6….

Exile was now over. The people had returned. State-sponsored rebuilding of the House of Yahweh in Jerusalem had been decreed by Cyrus . The harsh reality of life in the Empire back in their homeland which had not, as yet, lived up to their dreams of restoration. The Jews as a consequence had grown spiritually gloomy and cold. So the Prophet of God is sent to stir up his returned Church. There are at least ten lessons or principles the Spirit gives us which help us think properly about revival…

1. The Church always tends to decline so is constantly in need of revival v4.

2. Church revival comes through the efficacious preaching of the Word of God v1, 3 & 6.

3. Church revival comes with messages which place a stress on sinful behaviour or practice & the need for the grace of repentance v2, 4 & 6.

4. Church revival comes after a period of chastening & acknowledgment of waywardness on the part of the people of God v6b.

5. Church revival is forgotten by previous generations […]

In This Election Cycle, Remember the Sabbath (and the rest of God’s moral law)

Need a break from election-season stress?  How about embracing the break God built into creation from the beginning?  The Sabbath day is such a beautiful gift from God.  Through it, the giver of every good and perfect gift calls us to “cease”, to step away from life as we live it Monday through Saturday, to rest our souls in our Savior through public and private worship, and to rest our bodies through laying aside the work and recreation appropriate to the rest of the week.  This election season especially, more than any I can remember, maybe more than any in our nation’s history – that’s for historians to decide – we are a stressed electorate.  We need a break.

You’re Invited: A Day of Prayer and Fasting

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,“return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2:12-13

Our session (at Immanuel RPC in West Lafayette) has called for a day of fasting and prayer on Thursday, September 8th. I would like to use this opportunity to invite you and your congregations to join us. 

Browse Worthy: Prayer Helps

Noticed some prayer encouragements these past days being offered from a variety of sources. Here are a few links that may help you to pray with more strength, focus, and quantity.

Weep, Love, and Pray: A Christian Response to Dallas, Castille, and Sterling | David Murray

Though the news cycle can drive these tragedies to the back of our minds too quickly, praying in the manner set before us here helps keep them before us and the Lord in a godly way.

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Prayer | Melissa Edgington

Some great tips for mothers who have little uninterrupted time for prayer through the course of their days.

Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult in the Church | Thom Ranier

As the hair grays and the bones ache more, one can tend to become more cynical as well. Here are some good prayers to keep this from happening.

R.C. Sproul on the Other Comforter | Nathan Bingham

A short, comforting excerpt from a talk by Dr. Sproul that reminds us we always have strength and power available, which helps us when we pray.

Pray Continually | Titus Martin

One of my pastors preached this encouraging message from the familiar text of I Thessalonians 5:17.

Do Not Be Anxious About Anything […]

Prayer Societies

Encouraging God’s people to pray is one of the pastor’s most trying jobs. Three reasons exist for why this is so.

First, pastors often approach this difficulty mechanically. We find a passage on praying, talk about how God desires us to be praying, then tell people to get to praying. Then we get discouraged over the lack of response. We need to recognize the problem is not in making known the duty. Every Christian knows he should pray. Simply urging the church to pray more usually results in condemnation about our prayer life rather than consecration in this holy duty.

Another great struggle in praying, as one of my mentors regularly reminds me, is scheduling it. We simply do not make it the priority it should be. Sadly, the church does not always help its folks in this regard. Often the church has one weekly, corporate prayer meeting that can conflict with the full schedules of its members.

A third obstacle to prayer is that the motivation to sacrifice our own interests to pray is usually lacking. Note how when crisis strikes, people more naturally pray. Yet in seasons of congregational comfort, prayer usually lags in intensity. E.M. Bounds says, “Prayer is the oral expression of […]

Seeking His Spirit

Lately I have been reflecting on the prophets’ visions of revival. Many of the wondrous things they see in the days of Christ and promises they extend have to do with fuller manifestations of the Spirit of God. For three familiar examples:

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army…And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:9-10, 13-14)

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the […]