Notes and quotes from the 9Marks Journal – The Church Praying.
1. Pastors have the desire to pray – “We will devote ourselves to prayer” – but so often they find that though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak and their eyes are heavy.
2. Why should pastors’ pray for their people? 1) Not praying for your people is a sin; 2) Praying for your people glorifies God; 3) We are called to imitate leaders who pray for their people; 4) Praying for your people reflects the priority of New Testament Churches; 5) Praying for God’s people will lead them to change; and 6) Prayer is how ordinary men do extraordinary things for God.
3. Prayerlessness is a sin (1 Samuel 12:23). “A pastor who fails to pray for his people is as unbiblical as a pastor who refuses to preach God’s Word.”
4. “To leave God’s people un-prayed for is to leave them uncared for, unprovided for, and unled, like sheep without a shepherd.”
5. Advice of John Newton in one of his hymns:
Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay;
Therefore will not say thee nay.
Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much;
None can ever ask too much.
6. “If you survey great leaders of the Christian church, one thing they have in common is they were committed to prayer.”
7. Prayer as a primary means of promoting sanctification of God’s people. Look at Paul’s prayers.
8. “Corporate prayer – whether in a worship service or a week-day gathering – isn’t much to look at. We show up. We bow our heads. We ask God for daily needs and for gospel success. Then, we do it again. Week after week, year after year, the same people bring the same concerns in the same way to the same God.”
9. Why should a church gather to pray? To remember three essential things, which are that “we’re entirely dependent on our God, we need every member of the body, and we have a spiritual mission.”
10. In corporate prayer there are no celebrities.
11. When someone leads the congregation in prayer, we are active. We don’t just watch, we pray with them.
12. Two suggestions for corporate prayer: The person leading prays “We” not “I”; and the congregation says “Amen” to let others know that what has just been prayed is their prayer too.
13. Those who lead the church in prayer are praying to God and teaching the congregation how to pray, for better or worse – in manner, topics, content.
14. Scripture sets the agenda for the topics we pray about and it also should shape what we pray for concerning those topics.
15. Pray the “Big Four” – Adoration; Confession; Thanksgiving, Supplication – when we gather together.
16. Prayer should be a primary part of any elders’ meeting. 7 categories to pray at elders’ meetings: 1) Pray for humility and wisdom; 2) Pray through a passage of Scripture; 3) Pray for each other; 4) Pray for deacons, staff, and supported workers; 5) Pray for the sick; 6) Pray for church members by name; 7) Pray spontaneously as needed.
17. Set aside a significant portion of the elders’ meeting to pray for the members of the church, working through the church’s directory. Contact the individuals or couples beforehand to solicit specific prayer requests.
18. “If we define discipling as deliberately doing spiritual good to someone so that he or she will be more like Christ, then certainly prayer plays a critical role in our discipling relationships.”
19. Psalm 122:6-9 encourages us to pray for the economy of the city, the safety of city, the politics of the city, and the people of the city.
20. Congregants would give small slips of paper (prayer “bids”) to Jonathan Edwards during the week, and he would refer to them during his congregational prayers the next Sunday.
21. Pastors who put prayer front-and-centre each week are demonstrating that dependence upon God in a practical, biblical way.
22. Why have a weekly prayer service or prayer meeting? It reminds our people of the importance of prayer; it models for our people how to pray; it unites our people around God’s purposes; and it prepares our people for God to act.
23. “Prayer isn’t sexy. It’s not entertaining. It’s often not easy or convenient; it requires effort and work.”
24. “When we pray together, our needs become public. When he answers, his glory becomes public.”
25. God uses prayer meetings in Acts to give power to preach the gospel; courage and boldness to face persecution; deliverance in suffering; wisdom for ministry; launch new churches; share sorrows; build strong community.
26. “God can pick sense out of a confused prayer” but God may not have shared that ability with the majority of the people present in a corporate gathering.
27. “Praying without preparation should be as natural to us as sharing the gospel with someone. It is simply what we do as Christians. No, Christian should need a manuscript to share the gospel, and no Christian should need a manuscript to pray!” Yet… “The Spirit can work through my preparation on Saturday as much as he can work through my spontaneity on Sunday.”
28. “There is no shame in reading scripted prayers, but generally speaking the congregation shouldn’t be able to tell. So be sure to write for the ear, not the eye.” Use also language that communicate passion and tenderness like Paul’s prayers do.
29. Four of most important things we can pray for ourselves are: 1) Growth in holiness; 2) Unreserved commitment to God’s sovereign will over one’s life; 3) Perseverance; and 4) A heart of joy in God.