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Archive | Prayer

Defiant Prayer and the Image of God

Several people from my congregation spent the part of the day cooking and preparing a meal for fifty people experiencing homelessness here in Los Angeles. This is the second year that we have participated in this winter shelter which prepares meals and provides overnight housing in our area of the city. It’s a much needed resource for a small number of people compared to the 60,000 people who are living on my city’s streets and in cars and in tents.

As the food was all set out and the perfectly chiffonaded basil was placed as garnish, the new director called the people to line up. One of our members said, “We are going to pray now” and the director told us that we were not allowed to pray.

Not allowed to pray? What should we do?

One said to her, “We always pray before we eat.” She responded, “You are not allowed to pray since we receive government funding.”

I interjected, “We are allowed to pray, we are just not allowed to force people to pray.” I then added, “Even congress opens with prayer.”

We are going to give thanks.

I said to the people, “I am going to pray before our meal.” I went on to […]

A Suggestion for Prayer

In this new year, could I suggest you add to your regular prayer list pastors for the church in Asia? As the Holy Spirit continues growing His great work of enlightening and enlivening the gospel throughout Asia, we continue to see the greatest need being men to preach that gospel and the preservation of those already preaching it.

Will you pray for laborers in 2018?

When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’ Matthew 9:36-38 (ESV)

Would you resolve  to pray afresh in 2018 that the Lord of the harvest would raise up laborers to go out into the harvest?

I sense that in the denomination in which I serve, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, we have ceased to take Jesus’ call to prayer for laborers as seriously as we ought in recent years. Brothers and sisters in other churches may be flagging as well.

Today, there is a shortage of good men to serve as pastors in Jesus’ church. Regularly, I field phone calls and emails from members of search committees asking for suggested candidates. Some congregations are discouraged because of the apparent lack of men who would fit their particular need and situation.

The crisis is now. But a greater crisis is also looming, at least in the RPCNA.

Our denomination reached a similar crisis point nearly 30 years ago. […]

Jesus, Teach Us to Pray (Specific Presbyterian Prayers)

Last week, I had the distinct honor of participating in the organizing of another congregation here in the greater Los Angeles area. Rev. Hsing Tang was ordained to pastor a Mandarin speaking congregation in Irvine, California, about 50 minutes south of LA.

As the organizing duties were being divided out among the presbyters, I was asked to pray what is called “the prayer of constitution.”

Sounds fancy.

Our Directory for Church Government says: “An elder shall offer prayer constituting the congregation in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King and Head of the Church. The moderator shall then declare the congregation officially organized.” (page, D-5)

But what’s that look like? Can I have an example of that prayer? I wondered to myself what that prayer sounded like. What words would a prayer of constitution include? Jesus, teach us to pray–that seems to be the perpetual prayer of our Lord’s disciples. Teach us to pray specific prayers–specific presbyterian prayers!

“Jesus, teach me to pray!”

I had participated in the organizing of a church in Las Vegas earlier in the year, but I guess since I was not asked to pray this particular prayer at that organization service, maybe I didn’t pay too much […]

Refuge in the Redeemer

Storm Shelters

It’s stormy in the mountains! A tornado’s headed this way! The town is under siege! Life hangs in the balance! Danger is all around! In such situations, we all need a place to turn to, a safe house to which we can run, a refuge where we can hide, or a location far from threat and beyond the reach of harm.

David’s Dangers

That’s what the son of Jesse learnt during his rise to power. He was pursued like a fox, chased down by many assailants, either ducking under Saul’s javelin or outwitting royal militia manoeuvres. David was subject to slander, surrounded by envious liars, and often took recourse to a hideout for escape.

Reliable Refuge

In the end, he knew however, it was God who spared his life. In Psalm 18.1-3 he recounts how the LORD had kept him safe.

“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

What is striking in this Psalm, and also Psalm 144.2, is the multiplicity of word-pictures used to convey how faithfully Yahweh kept him safe. As Derek Kidner […]

What is Whiter than Snow?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland!

Just arrived back from a walk with our dog. It has been unseasonably cold in Belfast this week. We woke this morning to a blanket of snow. So I headed out with my son, who has just returned from Uni, to enjoy the falling, fluffy, flakes.

As the clouds cleared away, sunlight began to sparkle and twinkle its refracted light on fields and woods: everything was irradiated, and lit up almost-magically, as my heart was full of gladness in this winter wonderland. All green grass concealed. All brown branches covered. Glistening, glinting snow had hidden everything from view.

We continued down the field, at times entering into forest – till I bumped into a lad from Hong Kong who I’d talked to at length, on one previous occasion.

A Vital Question

The question that I posed to him was this: ‘What is whiter than the snow?’

Since he didn’t appear to know how to respond, I gently mentioned Psalm 51, and the covering it speaks of, when God forgives our sins.

Psalm 51

In this prayer, conniving, murdering, adulterous David had now come clean with God, as the superscription informs us. He begs the LORD for mercy! His only hope is God’s compassionate, […]

Appointments in Airports

I was flying home from a conference with two of the army ‘scripture readers.’ The older man opposite was grimacing in some pain. O.K., so we shouldn’t have been sitting in the disabled seats, but there was plenty of room. The thickly set (I’m one to talk) gentleman leaned forward and something dropped out of his pocket.

I watched, then waited, and thought… I took his mishap as a providential opportunity to initiate a conversation; so I smiled, then said: ‘Excuse me, you have dropped something out of your pocket!’

He looked down, blushing, spied his wallet (I think) on the ground (or maybe that was the second time it happened, and was just some medication on the first occasion), picked up the item, and thanked me, in a rather reserved manner.

I was sure, on first sight, this man was probably Austrian: his face looked Germanic (he could have been Martin Luther), and he was wearing what seemed to me a bit like lederhosen (a grey woolen jacket with a dark green lining around his collar and cuffs). I was almost expecting him to break out in refrains of ‘Edelweiss, edelweiss’ in the manner of Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews on ‘The […]

3GT Episode 60: Gordon Keddie, Author of Prayers of the Bible

On this episode of 3GT, we interview Pastor Gordon Keddie, author of the new book Prayers of the Bible from Crown & Covenant Publications. Yet this is not your ordinary interview. With his Scottish brogue, lively spirit, and keen insights, Gordon brings the subject of prayer to life!

Nor is this an ordinary book on prayer. His newest book offers 366 prayers of the Bible in a two-page, daily format. Each day contains an inspiring, pithy devotional in Gordon’s inimitable style, a suggested psalm portion to accompany it, and space to write down particular prayers.

Our episode sponsor Crown & Covenant will give away two free copies of Prayers of the Bible! Just be one of our first two listeners to send one of Gordon’s favorite prayers mentioned in the podcast along with your name and address to threeguystheologizing@gmail.com.

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/3gt-episode-602.mp3

Download

You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

How to Secure Attendance at a Prayer Meeting by R.J. George

R.J. George was a predecessor of mine by more than a century, having served as a pastoral theology professor at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary from 1892 until the time of his death in 1911. George wrote a three-volume set entitled Lectures in Pastoral Theology that contains a treasure trove of pastoral advice. In his second volume, entitled Pastors and People, he explains with wisdom, care, quaintness, and even some humor how a pastor should go about encouraging people to come to a prayer meeting (pages 32-34). I have reproduced this short section below with some editing.

If interested, you can view these volumes online (Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III). George goes on after this section to explain how to conduct a prayer meeting, the exercises that should take place within the meeting, and the helps then the hindrances to a prayer meeting, That the church would have such precise care and practice today!

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1) Arrange carefully as to the place of meeting.

a. If possible have all meet together. It is always heartsome to have a good-sized meeting. It promotes a warmth, and sociability, and congregational spirit.

b. If necessary, district the congregation. You must study the convenience of the people. They cannot […]

Christian Competence

Time is pressing on in sermon preparation, so on this Saturday afternoon I thought I’d share my morning thoughts.

Introduction

Perhaps your feeling tired or jaded in the work. Maybe you feel the burden of the responsibility to preach. “Who” you may wonder “is sufficient for these things?”

Context

In 2 Corinthians 1-2 Paul has been wrestling with this question. He clearly had detractors who were running down his credentials. After laying out his defense, in 1.12-2.11, he asserts that his change of plans was neither whimsical or selfish. Instead he delayed his visit to spare pain to God’s flock.

In 2.14-17 he deals with Christian conquest, for Christ has called them, as ministers, to diffuse fragrance around the globe in Christ’s Gospel victory march.

Next in 3.1-3 he shows that in exercising his powerful, successful mission, through God’s means of grace, he needs no other, human, Christian commendation, for results speak for themselves: Corinthian conversion and church planting is proof enough of divine power at work in Paul’s apostolic efforts. The fruit of New Covenant ministry is seen in the regeneration of the ‘living letters’ that Christ, through Gospel ministry, has written on living ‘fleshy’ human hearts

Then, in 3.4-6, he insists that such apostolic boasting […]