Writing this post is very therapeutic for me. I have to vent my frustration. In the past week I received yet another email full of drivel claiming to be Christian.
It was a call to prayer given by another so-called prophet who, of course, had a vision that 2016 is the year of God’s Restoration and Deliverance.
(I thought Hebrews 3:7 & 13 say “Today” is the day for God’s restoration and deliverance whatever the year?)
Anyway, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to stand more firmly for the truth of the gospel by attempting to obey the Apostle Paul’s command in Titus 1:9, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also torebuke those who contradict it.” Paul also commanded Timothy: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke(when you see false doctrine or ungodly living), and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
We pray about the war and genocide in the Middle East.
We pray for Christians, our brother and sisters, who are suffering and being persecuted; whose loved ones have been killed; whose children have been murdered; who find themselves in war and refugee camps, our brothers and sisters: we pray that you would strengthen their faith, remind them of your fatherly love and care, and that you use even the most terrible circumstances for good. Please provide for them physically, spiritually and emotionally. Please bring an end to the turmoil and violence.
We pray for Muslims and those of other faiths that have been affected by the violence and hatred. Oh, Sovereign Lord, be pleased to use this massive evil and upheaval to bring many to faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ. Please grant Christian people, especially in surrounding countries, a great love for their fellow human beings and deep desire to demonstrate the love of Christ in very practical ways. May we never disregard the stranger and alien and orphan and widow in need.
We pray for the members of DAESH/ISIS. Lord, please fill them with a realisation of the evilness and terribleness of their deeds. Please bring them to repentance and faith in Christ. Lord, if this is not your good will, be pleased to bring about swift justice upon them. We remember that one day all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for every deed. Thank you that no one will escape your justice.
We pray these things in the precious and powerful name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Commander of the armies of heaven.
Helpful articles on The Gospel Coalition website on ISIS here and here.
Being a pastor can be a really tough job. We love the church and feel honoured to teach God’s word. But we go through our spiritual highs and lows. We feel discouraged at times. We often feel that our sermons are boring and having no impact. We are tempted to focus just on the wrong in the church and forget what’s right. Sometimes we just have bad days or bad weeks. Many times we are discouraged by our own sinfulness.
This December I had the privilege of reading some of John Calvin’s sermons on the book of Ephesians. I felt as if I was re-converted after every sermon. I loved Calvin’s (correct) emphasis on the utter hopelessness of man and the extreme, deep grace of God in drawing us out of the pit of hell and giving us new life. I was challenged by Calvin’s regular reminders to ask God to make me perceive my sins more, to throw myself once again on the mercy of Christ, to hate my sin more, and to aim more at holiness out of an abiding sense of profound gratitude to a good, majestic God.
Jesus said that our heart will follow our treasure. In other words, our bank statements will show our priorities. In a similar way, our prayers follow our priorities. What do you pray for? Do you find yourself praying a lot about health, wealth and prosperity? Those are obviously the things you consider the most important.
What should we praying for? Often we struggle in our prayer time because we are not really sure about what we ought to be praying. Sometimes our church prayer meeting can be the most depressing meetings because we pray for the wrong things, or at least we don’t pray for the best things.
A helpful practise is praying the prayers found in the Bible. In Matthew 6:9-15 we have Jesus’ own example of prayer that should serve as our guideline. Jesus said we should pray like this (v9):