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Archive | Prayer

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 […]

A Little Help with the Psalms

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.)

Pray for Muslims

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 […]

Simple Praying for Complex Times

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 […]

Ordinary Elders

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.

The Inevitable End of Abortion as We Know It

Though it is difficult even to report or give a link to it, last week a mother in New Jersey set her newborn child on fire and left her in the middle of a road.  A neighbor who witnessed it rightly called it a “nightmare.”  Those who are reporting on it are calling it “disturbing” and “shaking the community.”  Residents have begun to assemble a makeshift memorial to the baby girl.

Sadly, so few see that this very scene is happening 4000 times a day in communities all across our land.  Mothers, with either the support of or acting out of the neglect from the fathers, are burning or cutting their little boys and girls to death.  Yet because it happens in the womb instead of a few minutes after birth, far too many people in our land do not recognize the nightmare all around us.

So it is vital as we enter this week of the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that we continue to erect a memorial to this tragedy so that this disturbing practice will be brought to an end.  I believe that one day it inevitably will be.

A number of years ago, I heard Dr. Rich […]

Browse Worthy: Clear Thinking on Recent Islamic Activities

From the Charlie Hebdo attack to Duke University now sounding forth the azan, an Islamic call to prayer, on Fridays, we are being confronted more and more with the need to think clearly about the Muslim world.  Here are some helps.

Theological Extremism in a Secular Age – In this post, Al Mohler shows through the American press’ coverage and editorials on the attack in Paris how unprepared the Western world is to deal with the worldview promoted by Islam. Though I have a point of disagreement about his teaching on a Christian view of blasphemy of the Triune God, this article helps clear the fogginess.

No, We Are Not Charlie Hebdo – Rod Dreher at The American Conservative explains why we should stop and think before we start chanting with the mob.

Who are Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists? – The BBC has this in-depth report about this cultic group that is destroying and murdering Christians in Nigeria.  Here also is satellite imagery of the most recent devastation.  One could ask why the American media does not cover this greater atrocity with the same fervor it has the Charlie Hebdo attack, but to raise it is to answer it.

End the Muslim Prayer Call at Duke University – One has to admire Franklin […]

A Cure for the Prayerless Heart

Are you having trouble in your prayer life? Do you feel as though your heart is hardened soil as you pray? Sing the psalms!  Wilhelmus a’Brakel gave this encouragement to his readers over 300 years ago when he wrote:

Singing will move a heart which frequently remains unmoved during prayer. It can be that while singing the tears will drip upon the book. Have you not frequently experienced this? Have not you been stirred up by hearing the singing of others? Others will therefore also be stirred up by your singing.

The Papists in France knew this, and therefore they strictly forbade the singing of psalms and meted out cruel punishment for this—even prior to massacring the church.

Therefore, no longer be silent, but lift up your voices—in spite of the devil and all the enemies of God—to the honor and glory of your God, as this has done you too much good already (and still does) than that you would refrain from thanking the Lord with songs of praise. You must furthermore do so in order that you might stir up others to serve the Lord with gladness. It will then become manifest to all […]