So That You May Love Those Whom You Are Called to Love

Good Morning,

Prayer is the lifeblood of the church. Without prayer at best we are nothing more than the Rotary or the Lion’s Club. Lots of organizations meet together, hear a speaker, sing songs, have fun, and then eat. All that stuff is good. Talking directly to God is what separates the Christian faith from other groups. That and the fact God hears our prayers and desires to know the trials, the good things, and the difficulties of this life from His covenant people whom His Son has died for. There is so much blessing that happens for us and to us because of the promise of prayer. But to benefit from it we need to do it. Prayer can’t be one of those things we talk a lot about, but don’t do.

Charles Spurgeon was once asked what the key to his ministry’s success was, and he took them into a room and pointed at it and said, “Here, in this room, is the powerhouse of the church.” What was that place? It was the area set aside for corporate intercessory prayer. He understood the same thing that Paul did when he helped organize churches during his missionary journeys. The people of God must start with prayer, live in prayer, and grow in prayer. “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” (Acts 14:23). Is that the kind of church we have or you have?

It’s a question worth asking, and it’s also a question worth asking yourself. Do you complain about the nature of prayer and how it is offered and then not do any praying yourself? Worth taking in and considering.

Here’s the Q/A for today for some reflection time:

Q. 183. For whom are we to pray?

A. We are to pray for the whole church of Christ upon earth; for magistrates, and ministers; for ourselves, our brethren, yea, our enemies; and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter; but not for the dead, nor for those that are known to have sinned the sin unto death.

Q. 184. For what things are we to pray?

A. We are to pray for all things tending to the glory of God, the welfare of the church, our own or others good; but not for any thing that is unlawful.

The first question helps us to the think about the people we prayer for, and why. A common lament you may sometimes hear me say is that prayer meetings can fall into the category of an organ recital, and no by that I don’t mean someone jumps and starting wailing on the keys. It is a reference to the fact that often the only things we can think to pray about are body parts and problems related to health that some in our families or relations are dealing with. Q. 183 gives us a lot more to think about. We are to pray for magistrates, that is kings and presidents and mayors, and we are to pray for our pastor. Now, how to do we do either of those? What can you pray for a civil leader to be and to do? In 1 Timothy 2 Paul again gives advice to his beloved disciple to see that his people are praying for the mayor of Ephesus so that, “.  . . Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

What does it mean to live peaceably? It means being able to preach Christ and live in light of His word without fear of reprisal or imprisonment. How do we prevent that from happening? Well, pray for it. Pray that the leader of the public square gets converted, that He comes to see Jesus as His personal Lord and Savior. You can post 2 Chronicles 7:14 on your FB wall all you want, but if you aren’t gathering together with your fellow believers it’s kind of hard to see it put into real practice, unless of course the posturing is what it’s all about to begin with. Prayer matters, and it is powerful when we do it.

As a little bit of an aside you will notice that the Divines put enemies in there as people you are to lift up to the God of Heaven and Earth. Who does that? Of course Jesus does. Father forgive them for they know not what they do. That’s not Christ condescendingly blessing their heart, He is truly and righteously seeking the intercession of the Holy Spirit in the life of these men who seek to destroy. We see immediate fruit of this prayer in the words of the Roman soldier standing at the foot of the cross, who confesses Surely this man was the Son of God. I think sometimes we don’t pray for our enemies because we want them to remain our enemies, we don’t desire that good may come to them, yet once again this is not how you have learned of Jesus. He showered love on those who persecuted them, even confronting the same Paul who would later tell Timothy to prayer for the Emperor on the road to Damascus. Paul was stopped in his tracks because the people of Damascus, Jerusalem, and elsewhere saw the witness of Stephen who called out to the Lord in the midst of his own death at the hands of evildoers and sought that good may come to those who hated him, and prayed for Paul, maybe not by name, but certainly by reputation. These are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the examples of how and why we are to prayer for all men, but most especially that all men would come to repentance.

In closing, the last question as we’ve touched on already deals with the manner and matter of our prayer in regard to the nature of our prayers. We pray for the Church, in its institutional form and its organic form. We want the Church to be healthy for that is where we live and move and have our being. It’s where we are fed and nurtured in the discipleship of the word. To go back to something we said at the beginning, a healthy Church is made so by the people in it praying for it and for one another, seeking as the catechism says, the glory of God in all that we do.

A Last Word:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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