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.
“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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Last night our small group discussed chapter 13 (“Pray during Trouble”) from Ed Welch’s great book, Side by Side. Here are a few brief thoughts that came out of our encouraging discussion.
A few resources to encourage your understanding of the Psalms.
Listen and watch David Murray explain briefly how the Psalms help us to sing to Jesus (as well as the Father and the Spirit), of Jesus, and with Jesus.
Tim Challies has a good reminder of why Christians can join David in singing as he did in Psalm 119, “O, How I Love the Law!”
In a catechism-style format, Pastor Brad Johnston has a helpful new book called 150 Questions About the Psalter: What You Need to Know About the Songs God Wrote.
The Bible Project released the video below with its vivid, engaging diagram that explains the structure of the Book of Psalms. The picture that emerges helps identify several important themes pointing to Christ that are carried through the Psalter. (Note: One error that somehow it maintains is that the Book of Psalms is not a hymnbook.)
French bombs falling on ISIS strongholds and command centres.
The British Prime Minister preparing the case to Parliament for British air strikes against ISIS.
Facebook profile pictures with the French flag superimposed on top of them.
Wembley stadium lit up with blue, white and red and the words ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité’ above the entrance, while English football fans sang the words of La Marseillaise at Tuesday night’s England-France soccer match, the teams linked arm-in-arm.
Spontaneous displays of respect in schools and workplaces across Europe as people observe a minute of silence for those slaughtered in the terrorist attacks.
In hundreds of ways, big and small, the world is reeling and responding to the unspeakably callous evil of the ISIS gunmen and bombers who, in the words of Psalm 10 ‘sat in ambush in the villages; in hiding places [they] murdered the innocent. [Their] eyes stealthily watched for the helpless; [they] lurked in ambush like a lion in his thicket… The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.’ (vv8-10).
What should our response be as Christians – to this and the ongoing ISIS atrocities throughout the Middle East? Several articles on this blog or linked to it in the last week have given helpful and biblical counsel […]
As we see the inward, moral deterioration of the western world with waves of immigrants from other lands, many of whom are hostile to Christianity, coming to us, knowing how to pray directly and effectively can be difficult. Here’s a little help to that end from a book by Martin Luther.
Authored in 1535, A Simple Way to Pray was written to Luther’s barber, a man named Peter Beskendorf. This man, known as “Master Peter,” had been Luther’s barber for years and was his friend. Master Peter recognized the link between Luther’s prayer life and his obvious greatness, so he asked the Reformer to teach him how to pray. One can imagine Luther sitting there in a barber’s chair, his face all lathered up and a razor blade whisking along his neck, and this barber asking him questions about prayer. Luther probably hesitated talking too much, not wanting to distract Peter in his work for obvious reasons! So Luther wrote this book, which begins:
Dear Master Peter: I will tell you as best I can what I do personally when I pray. May our dear Lord grant to you and to everybody to do it better than I! Amen.”
The Lord used Luther to help […]
When we think of the work of the elders of the church what are the primary duties that we consider? In the Book of Acts, chapter 6, the elders of the church are to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and to prayer. These are the two basic callings of those who minister in the eldership of the church.
A few weeks ago I was privileged to participate in the memorial service of a Christian woman from another congregation. There were a number of ministers who participated, all reformed in conviction. The son of the woman, who had gone to her eternal rest, gave me a gift for participating in the service. It was clear that he knew me very well. As he was going through his mother’s belongings he found Session Minutes from a church where one of his relatives had served as a ruling elder in the early 1900s. The Session Minutes were from Roseburg, Oregon Presbyterian Church and they were dated January 7, 1917. Accompanying the Minutes was an old photo of the church building.