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“When we rely upon prayer…”

One of passages which most shapes my understanding of the ministry is Acts 6:1-7. Yes, it introduces us to the ministry of deacons and the importance of that ministry to the church. But it also introduces us—with devastating clarity—to the two-fold responsibility of those who shepherd Christ’s flock: “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). Most pastors I know are very diligent in their “ministry of the Word.” Their consciences would smite them if they didn’t study well before they preach. Excellent. But I wonder if we’re as diligent in our ministry of prayer? I’m not, at least not as I ought to be. I tend to focus more on my speaking to men on behalf of God than on my speaking to God on behalf of men. It’s helpful to remind myself that prayer is at least as essential as preaching.

Pastor friends, study well. Exercise oversight well. But by all means, pray well. Consider these good words from A. C. Dixon:

“When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. And so on. But when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.” (quoted by Robert Hall Glover in The Bible Basis of Missions)

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This Is What Prayer for Missions Looks Like

Nate Saint’s prayer for the Aucas (a savage people for whose conversion to Christianity he would ultimately sacrifice his life) is the finest missions prayer I’ve heard or read. I love its doxology, its soteriology, and its eschatology. Glorious. Just about unimprovable, when you consider how his life backed it up. Pray like this:

‎”May the praise be His, and may it be that some Auca, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, will be with us as we lift our voices in praise before His throne. Amen.” (Nate Saint, as recorded in Through Gates of Splendor)

Such a desire for God’s glory to abound through the conversion of the lost around the world—and their participation with us around the throne—is the heart behind the missions hymn For the Sake of His Name. Grace.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzJYZbAVroI]

Borrowing Brains: Practical Tips for Personal Prayer

Joe and I are tag-teaming on a Sunday night series on prayer. This week I’m preaching on practical helps that can enhance one’s prayer life. I’d appreciate your input.

What specific suggestions have you found to really be helpful to you in your own prayer time, making it more consistent, more productive, more focused, more worshipful, etc.?

Sound Words: Start Your Prayers In Jesus’ Name

Sound WordsMost Christians use the phrase “in Jesus’ name” merely as a sanctified sign-off to their prayers. The phrase as many use it might rightly be translated in a number of ways:

  • “Sincerely,”
  • “Ten-four. Over-and-out.”
  • “I’m done—someone else’s turn.”

Although this may be a comical  exaggeration, it contains a truth that is no laughing matter: we have taken what Jesus provided as a great privilege backed by glorious doctrinal truths and turned it into a mindless phrase—the very sort of vain repetition which He explicitly forbade (Matt 6:7). We treat the phrase like so many magic words. We get offended when a brother closes a prayer with a simple “Amen.” Friends, we’re missing the point. Continue reading