Archives For Prayer

The Series:

Christianity Today calls it “the craziest statistic you’ll read about North America missions.” What is it? One in five (20%) non-Christians say they do not know a single Christian. Nearly 13,500,000 people in North America do not know a single Christian, much less have a relationship with them. Even more startling, if you remove the number of non-Christians who once professed to be Christians, the percentage increases to 60%!

If we are going to reach our world for Christ, we have to embrace the Great Commission with a comprehensive vision to see strangers become missionaries. As I argued in my original article, churches can give the appearance that they are experiencing growth when in actuality they are merely adding already churched members through transfer growth, representing a very small percentage of people in most places. We can no longer tolerate the naive assumption that non-Christians will be attracted to our gatherings or that they will become religious consumers of our spiritual goods and services. They want community, not consumerism; authenticity, not activities. The greatest apologetic for those far from God is showing and telling them a better story–stories of lives changed by Jesus and compelled to love others as Christ as loved them.

Picking up from part 1 of fleshing it out, I want to add some additional practical ideas to encourage follow through.

6.  Acknowledge the Present Reality

We need an honest and realistic starting point. It hit me hard in the gut to realize that I was busy doing “the Lord’s work” while failing to know, much less lead, any “strangers” in my city to Jesus. It is easy for us to look at people and see the color of their skin, how they dress, what car they drive, etc. without acknowledging that they have souls that will never die.

  • The present reality is a spiritual reality: the massive majority of people in my world are rebels and traitors, not sons and daughters of God.
  • The present reality is a missional reality: the massive majority of people far from God do not seek God nor is there fear of God in their eyes (Rom. 3:10-18).
  • The present reality is relational reality: the massive majority of people in my world do not know a single Christian. They are strangers to God and strangers to Christians.
  • The present reality is an evangelical reality: what strangers know about God is very likely to be misguided or ill-informed and their understanding of the gospel message darkened.

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I know we find a lot to talk about these days in evangelical circles, and it is easy to get wrapped up in stories, controversies, and current events that will not be so current a few weeks from now. One of the things I’m grateful for each week is the opportunity to study about an unreached people group our church prays for each week. As part of the welcome and announcements, I share information with our church gathered about an unreached people group with little to no access of the gospel and call on us to remember them in prayer the following week.

This week, we are praying for the Aimaq, Jamshidi of Afghanistan. I would imagine that few if any of us have ever heard of this people group number 129,000 people. They are not 99.2% Muslim like many of the UPG’s in that region (with a scant number of Christians). They are 100% Muslim with no known followers of Jesus. Not only that, but there are no resources available to them in their language. No Bible, New Testament, or even the Gospel of John. No Jesus Film. No audio recordings. Nothing. According to the Joshua Project, they rank #2 in the world where the greatest persecution takes place of Christians. Not only is there no progress currently being made, any future attempt will likely lead to suffering, imprisonment, and death.

The Jamshidi are a nomadic people, highly tribal, isolated by the rugged geographical terrain and insulated by strong cultural boundaries. In order to even gain access to them, Christians must find a way to traverse the mountainous terrain and transplant themselves within their tribal identity. If, somehow, they are accepted into their nomadic lifestyle, they would then find opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, whom they have never heard, to what appears to be a militant Sunni Muslim people. There stands a significant chance they will die in the process.

Do the Jamshidi matter to the heart of God? I mean they are only 129,000 people of the nearly 7 billion people in the world. Absolutely, they do! In fact, I would venture to say they matter more to God than a lot of the things that consume our thoughts and affections. It’s a reality check to know that God’s redemptive purpose is to be worshipped among every nation, tongue, tribe, and people of the earth. There’s a lot of ways I could expend my time, interest, and energy in various discussions, debates, and controversies, but the greater issue has to do with what it will take to see many Jamshidi Aimaq’s treasuring Jesus Christ, if necessary, even to a martyr’s death?

In light of eternity, according to God’s global purposes in redemptive history, we find perspective and a reality check in the Jamshidi. May God help me, help us, to calibrate our lives accordingly so that our efforts are leveraged with maximum thrust to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to a needy world. God save many Jamshidi in our generation and use our please on their behalf as the means for sending out laborers into this harvest field!

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I have been especially helped this Monday morning with this prayer and petition. I encourage you to consider it and meditate on it. May our strength not be in our experiences or our resolve, but in the grace of Jesus.

Grant that I may never trust my heart,
depend upon any past experiences,
magnify any present resolutions,
but be strong in the grace of Jesus:
that I may know how to obtain relief
from a guilty conscience
without feeling reconciled to my imperfections.

Sustain me under my trials
and improve them to me;
give me grace to rest in thee,
and assure me of deliverance.

May I always combine thy majesty
with thy mercy,
and connect thy goodness
with thy greatness.
Then shall my heart always rejoice
in praises to thee.

– Taken from “Self-Noughting” in The Valley of Vision

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One of my favorite devotional authors is J.C. Ryle, and I have often gone to his trilogy of books, namely Practical Religion, Old Paths, and The Upper Room for personal encouragement and rebuke.  In his chapter on prayer, Ryle addresses a sinner who has yet to come to Christ in repentance and faith. Consider his counsel:

When does the building of the Spirit really begin to appear in a man’s heart? It begins, so far as we can judge, when he first pours out his heart to God in prayer.

If you desire salvation, and want to know what to do, I advise you to go this very day to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the first private place you can find, and earnestly and heartily entreat him in prayer to save your soul.

Tell him that you have heard that he receives sinners, and has said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Tell him that you are a poor vile sinner, and that you come to him on the faith of his own invitation. Tell him you put yourself wholly and entirely in his hands; that you feel vile and helpless, and hopeless in yourself: and that except he saves you, you have no hope of being saved at all. Beseech him to deliver you from the guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin. Beseech him to pardon you, and wash you in his own blood. Beseech him to give you a new heart, and plant the Holy Spirit in Your Soul. Beseech him to give you grace and faith and will and power to be his disciple and servant from this day forever. Oh, reader, go this very day, and tell these things to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you really are in earnest about your soul.

Tell him in your own way, and your own words. If a doctor came to see you when sick you could tell him where you felt pain. If your soul feels its disease indeed, you can surely find something to tell Christ.

Doubt not his willingness to save you, because you are a sinner. It is Christ’s office to save sinners. He says himself, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

Wait not because you feel unworthy. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Waiting comes from the devil. just as you are, go to Christ. The worse you are, the more need you have to apply to him. You will never mend yourself by staying away.

Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor. Jesus can understand you. Just as a mother understands the first lispings of her infant, so does the blessed Saviour understand sinners. He can read a sigh, and see a meaning in a groan.

Despair not because you do not get an answer immediately. While you are speaking, Jesus is listening. If he delays an answer, it is only for wise reasons, and to try if you are in earnest. The answer will surely come. Though it tarry, wait for it. It will surely come.

Oh, reader, if you have any desire to, be saved, remember the advice I have given you this day. Act upon it honestly and heartily, and you shall be saved.

I am one, like many of you, who have a strong reaction to the way sinners are counseled in praying the “sinner’s prayer.”  However, a reaction from the wrong-headed decisional regeneration should not lead us to counsel sinners away from praying!  In calling sinners to repent and believe, and to express that in prayer to God, I think J.C. Ryle’s counsel is a good one to follow.

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Trinitarian Prayer

Tim Brister —  April 30, 2011 — Leave a comment

The April 26th devotion from Octavius Winslow’s Morning Thoughts really encouraged me in prayer.  I thought I’d post it here to make it more accessible.  You can read his devotional thoughts daily on the official Winslow website or you can also purchase the book or get the Kindle version for only $0.99.  Highly recommended.

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“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:18

What is prayer? It is the communion of the spiritual life in the soul of man with its Divine Author; it is a breathing back the divine life into the bosom of God, from where it came; it is holy, spiritual, humble converse with God. That was a beautiful remark of a converted heathen- “I open my Bible, and God talks with me; I close my Bible, and then I talk with God.” Striking definition of true prayer!

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Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. – Colossians 4:2

I know that we are taught from childhood to pray with our eyes closed.  It is intended to be a sign of reverence, focus, and submission to God.  I understand that.  And while that should certainly be our posture, it should not be our practice.  Rather, we should pray continually with our eyes wide open.  What do I mean by that?

Paul exhorts the Colossian believers to “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it.”  Paul is telling us that we should be on the lookout when we are engaged in prayer.  Our eyes should be wide open to certain things.  But what are they?  Allow me to offer a few suggestions.

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So that has to be the most Puritan-ish title I’ve ever given a blogpost, and I hope I haven’t lost you already.  🙂 I realize that some of you may not be familiar with triperspectivalism, and if you are in that category, here’s a good list of resources to check out.  The purpose of this blogpost is to show how I am learning to practically apply triperspectivalism to my prayer life in order to create a more balanced, continual communion with God throughout the day.

Triperspectivalism focuses on the three offices of Christ’s mediation, namely that of prophet, priest, and king and shows how those offices functionally relate to Christian life and ministry.  What I want to do is the make the case how appropriating the triperspectival model can encourage prayer rhythms while at the same time directing us to revel in Christ our mediator.  Makes sense?

The way this is unfolding in my day is to break down my prayer times in three specific periods: early morning, noontime/mid-day, and late evening.  While there is spontaneous prayer throughout the day, these periods are intentionally set aside for communion with God and to lay of Jesus who is my prophet, priest, and king. Doing this causes me to remain awestruck in wonder of my Savior and cultivates communion in a manner not centered on me and my needs but God and the beauty of His manifold perfections.

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Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Below are four videos created for this designated day of prayer (we are showing the bottom one at Grace during our services).  Please commit to pray for our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and partner with them by identifying wit their struggle to endure and persevere with joy.

IDOP Official Video

Open Doors Video

Voice of the Martyrs Video

Here is the backstory to Salavat, mentioned in the VOM video:

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The age of telecommunication has taken some amazing strides in my generation.  I remember growing up with the 50-foot telephone cord in the kitchen that could stretch to every corner of the house.  Then came the answering machine and “cordless” phone.  It was always fun to see how far in your front yard that you can go before you loos the signal.  Then came the pagers.  I still can’t figure out that one.  Perhaps we can chalk that one up as a step backwards, but don’t tell that to the tweenager in the 90’s who was convinced that having at least two of them qualified you for being a really important person. 🙂

With the advent of the cellular phone, things picked up rather quickly.  We moved from being able to talk over the cell phone to being able to communicate through instant messaging, text messaging, and phone calls through the Internet.  Speaking of the Internet, not only could you call, but you could video chat, including conference calls, and livestream from anywhere in the world.  Of course, the world of social media opened up ways of communicating through Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, turning our lives into a communications hub for the world around us.  If I factored all the ways I communicate on a weekly basis, it is truly remarkable (cell phone, text, email, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, livestream, and video chat).

But this morning it hit me.  I’m talking about the most amazing medium of communication.  What am I referring to?

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