The Church at Prayer – The Death of the Prayer Meeting
More teaching handouts can be found HERE
The Church at Prayer – The Death of the Prayer Meeting
More teaching handouts can be found HERE
The Church at Prayer – Devoted to Prayer
More teaching handouts can be found HERE
017: Churches Collectively Giving Thanks
Spurgeon writes in the February 1865 edition of The Sword and the Trowel that “it is the duty of a Church collectively, to declare what God hath done for ‘their souls’.” So “what God is doing for good in one Church ought therefore to be made known to other Churches, that thanks may be given by many on its behalf and others may be provoked to love and good works.” One way he sought to do this was by sharing information about the Metropolitan Tabernacle, the church he pastored.
The FIEC have sought to facilitate this through their Get to know… videos as a way of helping churches know what God is doing in other churches in the fellowship. At Banstead Community Church we have shown each video that has been produced in our Sunday morning service and spent time praying for the churches featured.
The current COVID crisis has also provided a new opportunity to do this in ZOOM prayer meetings. It has been great to have previous trainee pastors now in different parts of the country join our prayer meeting and share about what God has done in their churches. We’ve been able to have joint prayer meetings with other churches. I’ve also been invited to attend the prayer meeting of another local church and make known how God has blessed the church I paster and hear them give thanks to God.
Is there a leader of a local church you could invite to your church prayer meeting “to declare what God hath done for their souls… that thanks may be given by many”?
(Photo: Julia Joppien)
004: Praying for a larger outpouring of the Holy Spirit
An elder at the Metropolitan Tabernacle wrote to Spurgeon with 10 suggestions about how to give practical expression to a desire for a larger outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church and congregation.
1. Call a meeting of the Deacons and Elders of the church for special prayer for their own families.
2. Fix an evening to meet the older children of the members of the church to urge them to immediate attention to the salvation of their souls.
3. Call a church meeting for special prayer for a still larger blessing on the ministry.
4. Hold a general meeting of the church for thanksgiving for the blessings enjoyed in the past.
5. Invite from the pulpit all the members of the church to set apart, in their own homes, one particular day (which you should name) for special prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
6. Invite the Deacons and Elders and some of the members of the church to open their homes from 7 to 9pm for special prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
7. Set apart an evening in which yourself, with the Elders, should meet all those in the congregation who are as yet undecided, for special exhortation and prayer, urging them to immediate decision for Christ.
8. With the Elders, meet the students (of the Pastor’s College), the Sunday School teachers, the Tract Visitors, the Classes for special prayer and conference, that their labours may be made more effectual in the salvation of sinners.
9. Print out a selection of promises from the Bible which we might plead before God on this matter.
10. With fruit expected, have the Elders ready to see inquirers after the services.
Alongside his suggestions, he thinks “it is very desirable that our Monday Evening Prayer-meeting should be even better attended than it is.”
Do we pray enough together as a local church for a larger outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Would any of these suggestions work in our particular context?
Is it our desire that our evening prayer meeting should be even better attended than it is?
(Photo: Julia Joppien)
003: Sermon Praying
These 8 prayers from Mike McKinley I have found helpful to use during sermon preparation since they appeared in an article on the 9Marks website back in 2012.
1. Lord, please help me to understand the meaning of this text and how it points to Christ.
2. Lord, please increase my love for the people who will hear this sermon.
3. Lord, please give me wisdom to apply this text to the lives of the people in our congregation.
4. Lord, please use this passage to help me grasp and love the gospel more so that I might help my hearers do the same.
5. Lord, please help me to see how this passage confronts the unbelief of my hearers.
6. Lord, please help me to be obedient to the demands of this passage. Help me to enter the pulpit having already submitted my life to this truth before I preach it.
7. Lord, by your Spirit please help me to preach this sermon with the necessary power and with appropriate affections.
8. Lord, please use this sermon to bring glory to your name, joy to your people, and salvation to the lost.
(Photo: Julia Joppien)
Notes and quotes from A Simple Way to Pray: The Wisdom of Martin Luther on Prayer by Dr Archie Parrish.
1. When we get on our knees, we are all simple men. As simple people, we need a simple way to pray.
2. Martin Luther’s little book to his barber ‘Master Peter’ is a great tool to teach people how to pray.
3. “A study of Luther’s prayer reveals a childlike simplicity and love for God blended with streams of joyful trust and surrender to Him. He simply, fervently expresses the needs of his heart and conscience. He earnestly cries out to God for comfort, help and grace.”
4. When a Christian prays “Dear Father, Your will be done”, God responds “Dear child, yes, it shall be done in spite of the devil and the whole world.”
5. After warming his heart by reading a psalm or two, Luther’s method for prayer involved praying through the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments and Apostle’s Creed.
6. “Take care not to undertake… so much that one becomes weary in spirit.”
7. Luther’s method was based on the structure and content of his Smaller Catechism. His practice of praying these foundation truths enabled him to connect doctrine and devotion like inhaling and exhaling.
8. Luther saw coming to God in prayer as a beggar “who opens wide his cloak in order to receive much.”
9. Bolster the presenting of your desires to God with particulars. “The petitioner should give motives for his reason; he should seek by every indication and argument to move God to fulfil his wish.”
10. “When I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little Psalter, hurry to my room, or, if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-for-word the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do.”
11. When your heart has been warmed kneel or stand with your hands folded and your eyes toward heaven and speak or think as briefly as you can: “O heavenly Father, dear God, I am a poor unworthy sinner. I do not deserve to raise my eyes or hands toward You or to pray. But because You have commanded us all to pray and have promised to hear us and through Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, have taught us both how and what to pray, I come to You in obedience to Your Word, trusting in Your gracious promises. I pray in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ together with all Your saints and Christians on earth as He has taught us.” Then pray through the Lord’s Prayer.
12. “To this day I suckle at the Lord’s Prayer like a child, and as an old man eat and drink from it and never get my fill.”
13. After praying through the Lord’s Prayer, Luther would pray through the Ten Commandments. “I divide each commandment into four parts, thereby fashioning a garland of four strands. That is, I think of each commandment as first, instruction, which is really what it is intended to be and consider what the Lord demands of me so earnestly. Second, I turn it into thanksgiving; third, a confession; and fourth, a prayer.”
14. The Ten Commandments in their fourfold aspect, as a school text, songbook, penitential book, and prayer book, are intended to help the heart come to itself and grow zealous in prayer.
15. For those who have more time after praying through the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, Luther recommends praying through the Apostle’s Creed, making it into a garland of four strands like with the 10 commandments.
16. You must always speak the amen firmly. Never doubt that God in His mercy will surely hear you and say yes to your prayer.
17. “A Christian has prayed abundantly who has rightly prayed the Lord’s Prayer.”
18. “Whoever begins to pray the Psalter earnestly and regularly will soon take leave of those other light and personal little devotional prayers.”
19. We need to pray not what we feel like praying, but what God wants us to pray. God wants us to pray as Jesus did, that His will be done, not our will.
20. “Our dear Lord, who has given to us and taught us to pray the Psalter and the Lord’s Prayer, grant to us also the spirit of prayer and of grace so that we pray with enthusiasm and earnest faith, properly and without ceasing, for we need to do this; he has asked for it and therefore wants to have it from us. To him be praise, honour, and thanksgiving. Amen.” (Luther, foreword to the Neuburg edition of the Psalter)
21. Luther recognised the importance of prayer with other believers, but he built his daily schedule around his time alone with the Lord.
22. If solitude means getting away from the busyness around us, silence is stilling the busyness within us.
23. If your prayer would echo God’s voice speaking to your heart, then you must listen to Him through His Word before you speak in prayer.
24. We bring all kinds of prayers to our Almighty God, knowing that He hears us and will answer when we pray.
Awareness of God’s greatness stimulates us to adoration, praising Him in prayer.
Realisation of God’s righteousness reveals our sinfulness and moves us to confession.
Recognising God’s justice reveals the undeniable guilt of the human race and the necessity of divine punishment which leads believers to lamentation, expressing sorrow.
Consciousness of God’s grace and goodness inspires us to thanksgiving, thanking Him for what He has done.
Knowledge of God’s mighty power and of specific human need stirs us to supplication, coming to God with our requests.
When requests are for our own needs, we come to God with petition.
When requests are for the needs of others, we come to God in intercession.
25. Martin Luther’s passion for prayer grew out of his passion for God.
Notes and quotes from the 9Marks Journal – Corporate Prayer.
1. Christians used to take greater care in their prayers. We need to again.
2. If you are leading in prayer, pray “We” not “I”, because you are representing yourself and all those other people before the Lord.
3. “The pastoral prayer is important for showing ourselves and others that the church is not doing what we appear to be doing, but that all this is God’s work. Ultimately, everything that we do is dependent upon God and his grace, his mercy, his action.”
4. Why do people pray to God? Because they believe that He is mighty to save, able to change the course of events, and willing to respond to the prayers of His people.
5. God has always intended for His people to pray for His glory and their good.
6. In corporate prayer we are to listen intently to the person leading prayer, while repeating to God, “Yes, yes, that person speaks for me and all those around me.”
7. “Corporate prayer…requires the church to agree to be without division, to be of the same mind and judgment. It’s one way the church “stands firm in one spirit: and “with one mind strives side by side for the faith”.”
8. To approach the task of praying on behalf of others is something Christians should approach slowly and reverently.
9. “One of the most essential excellencies in public prayer, and that which I feel constrained first of all, and above all to recommend is, that it abound in the language of the word of God.” (Samuel Miller)
10. The language of Scripture provides the language for prayer.
11. “No prayers more accurately reflect the will of God than those which use the language which God Himself puts into our mouths. No request is more sure to be granted than that which expresses what God Himself has promised to fulfil. No petition is more sure to be answered than that which pleads for that which God already commands.”
12. Why were the previous generations of evangelicals more biblically literate that ours? One reason is because there was more Bible content in their services than there is in ours. “The word preached and the word prayed and the word sung were constantly reinforcing each other.”
13. “We recommend for the improvement of public prayers that they should be planned.”
14. You wouldn’t preach without preparation, so why do you lead prays in the worship service without preparation? “The young minister should no more venture into the pulpit with an impromptu prayer, than with an impromptu sermon.”
15. “Many of our pastoral prayers are a maze of poorly thought out, confusing cliches, hackneyed expressions, shallow constructions, and formalized, impersonal ramblings.” (William Willimon)
16. Use an outline, even write out your prayers, but not in order to read, but to organise your thoughts. “It is studied prayer, not read prayer that we are advocating here.”
17. Wise Christians have never been satisfied to worship only once a week. They have always gathered during the week for prayer.
18. “Since the Lord’s Prayer is a family prayer, we not only pray with one another, we also pray for one another.”
19. During our public worship every Biblical element of prayer (such as adoration, confession, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession) should be employed.
20. “Long prayers are for the closet.”
21. What are the characteristics of a good public prayer? a) It should abound in the language of Scripture; b) It should be well-ordered; c) It should be general and comprehensive; d) It should not be too wordy or lengthy; e) It ought to contain a good dose of gospel truth; f) It should manifest variety; g) It should contain petition for the advance of the gospel.
22. Employ the names of the Lord in various parts of the prayer. Change the title used from one segment of prayer to another.
23. “Prayer is how God’s people respond to him in thankfulness and praise. Prayer is how God’s people cry out to him for mercy and deliverance. Prayer is how God’s people call upon him to accomplish the work of his kingdom. In short, prayer is how we actively demonstrate our utter dependence on him. It honours him as the source of all blessing.”
24. Throughout history we’ve seen God’s work to be particularly active when his people have faithfully prayed together.
25. “Praying together has a natural tendency to draw people closer.”
26. “Concerning a prayer’s genuineness, I don’t think there’s any reason to say that something that is spontaneous is somehow more genuine than something that’s been carefully reflected upon and considered.”
27. Pray the prayers of Scripture. Pray the commands of Scripture. Pray the “ambitions” of Scripture. Pray the promises of Scripture.
28. Pray through the church membership directory one page a day. Ask people how you can pray for them as you have occasion. And then let them know that you have prayed for them.
29. “As you move into intercessions, plead for the sanctification of your people, let them hear compassion and urgency in your voice as you pray that the ideals of the Christian life might be realised in their lives. They need to hear you praying week after week that they might be holy even as God is holy, that they might be imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love, and conformed to the image of Christ, bearing the fruit of Spirit. Let them hear you pleading that they’ll not love the world nor the things of the world, and that they’ll not be seduced by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life.”
30. Pray for the 1) civil authorities; 2) the Christian ministry (Mt 9:36-38) (1 Tim 2:1,2); 3); the salvation of all men (1 Tim 2:1,3-4); and 4) the afflicted (2 Cor 1:3,4,11; Jas 5:13-18).
Notes and quotes from The Power of Prayer Meetings by Peter Masters.
1. In the early church, there were two distinct types of services – a pattern still followed today. The more public gatherings for worship and instruction – referred to at length in 1 Corinthians 14 – led by pastors, teachers and other leaders in the church. The other being the distinctive prayer meeting. Less ‘public’ and less formal. No teaching element. All those attending appear to have been believers. Both men and women participated.
2. “To this day the prayer meeting is often the least regarded and supported gathering in the church programme.”
3. Most believers agree in theory that the prayer meeting is the ‘power house’ of the church.
4. “A church prayer meeting is not a season for surprises, shocks, novelties and innovations. Nor is it an opportunity for individuals to bang particular drums, or promote causes that may not be in accord with the concerns of the whole prayer meeting. It is certainly not a time for the airing of complaints. This is a gathering in which all will be agreed. There will be an appropriate ‘agenda’, and common desires, and people will broadly pray in agreement with those things.”
5. Don’t make the prayer meeting an optional extra.
6. In the early church – ‘many’ – gathered to pray. “A great rebuke to numerous believers today.”
7. Masters like Spurgeon ain’t no fan of combining the weekly prayer meeting with the weekly Bible Study. Obviously it is better than having no prayer meeting at all. Spurgeon could not understand why churches should want to do this and asked how a combined meeting could do justice to either purpose.
8. What are some of the benefits of corporate prayer? 1) Bonding the church; 2) Demonstrate dependence on God’s power; 3) Focus minds on the church and its mission; 4) Extends faith’s horizons; 5) Provides schooling in prayer.
9. “The prayer meeting provides a clear and emphatic demonstration of our complete dependence upon God’s power for all our work.”
10. “In the prayer gathering, preoccupation with ourselves as individual believers, slips away, and we become a group of people longing for the blessing of others, and the prosperity of the cause.”
11. The church that prays together, stays together.
12. It is at the church prayer meeting that the young in faith learn the way of prayer, and even those who are older in the faith are lifted and stirred by the fresh earnestness of the young.
13. The meeting ordained by Christ is first and foremost an asking meeting.
14. “Of course we ought to pray for revival, but surely the ministries that we actively pursue, in season and out of season, are bound to occupy most of the time.”
15. How should we pray? With great feeling and earnestness. Using direct and plain language. By means of many contributors. Addressing prayer to the Father. All joining in the loud ‘Amen’.
16. “We should pray as those who truly believe that Christ is present and the Father is listening.”
17. “As many people as possible should pray audibly in the prayer meeting.”
18. In prayer meetings at the Metropolitan Tabernacle we reserve a final portion of time for brief, single item prayers, which may be only two or three sentences long.
19. A loud amen signifies attentive minds and fervent hearts.
20. “Every great blessing in the life of a church is obtained through prayer.”
21. Throughout church history, the story is the same, all the great awakenings and reformations beginning with the Lord waking up souls to pray for these things.
Notes and quotes from A Praying Life by Paul Miller.
1. Why do we never get around to praying? It’s because we don’t think prayer makes much difference.
2. “Our inability to pray comes from the Fall.”
3. We need to know what good prayer looks and feels like in order to develop a praying life.
4. “A praying life feels like our family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationships. It’s intimate and hints at eternity. We don’t think about communication or words but about whom we are talking with.”
5. Being a son or daughter of God means you have complete access to your heavenly Father through Jesus.
6. “Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.” Our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God.
7. Ask like a child. What do children ask for? Everything and anything. How often do they ask? Repeatedly. Over and over again. How do they ask? They just say what is on their minds. But they do so supremely confident of their parents’ love and power. Instinctively they trust.
8. “Life crowds out prayer.”
9. “Jesus is, without question, the most dependent human being who ever lived. Because he can’t do life on his own, he prays. And he prays. And he prays… When he prays, he is not performing a duty; he is getting close to his Father.”
10. Jesus encourages us to pray in the privacy of our rooms, so our out loud praying doesn’t become a verbal show.
11. Praying out loud can be helpful because it keeps you from getting lost in your head.
12. “If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.”
13. 7 suggestions for praying in the morning: 1) Get to bed; 2) Get up; 3) Get awake; 4) Get a quiet place; 5) Get comfortable; 6) Get going; 7) Keep going.
14. “They have no wine” (John 2:3) – is a perfect description of prayer. Prayer is bringing your helplessness to Jesus.”
15. “Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realise how weak they are.”
16. Parenting tip: Speak less to the kids and more to God.
17. The Greek Orthodox Church still uses a simple fifth-century prayer sometimes called the Prayer of Jesus: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
18. By praying slowly through a portion of Scripture, you allow Scripture to shape your prayers.
19. James describes two dangers in asking. The first danger is Not Asking. James writes, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” The second danger is Asking Selfishly: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
20. “Thanksgiving looks reality in the face and rejoices at God’s care.”
21. Prayer is inseparable from obeying, loving, waiting, and suffering.
22. “The name of Jesus gives my prayers royal access. They get through. Jesus isn’t just the Saviour of my soul. He’s also the Saviour of my prayers. My prayers come before the throne of God as the prayers of Jesus.”
23. The bottom line is we don’t write down our prayer requests because we don’t take prayer seriously.
24. It is clear from Paul’s description of his prayer life in his letters that he regularly prayed for an enormous number of people. James Dunn, the New Testament scholar, wrote, “Paul must have had an extensive prayer list and presumably spent some time each day naming before God all his churches, colleagues, and supporters. This would help maintain and strengthen the sense of a faith shared with ‘all the saints.’”
25. “I’ll keep you in my prayers” is the easiest way to back away politely. Roughly translated it means, “I have every intention of praying for you, but because I’ve not written it down, it is likely I will never pray for it. But I say it because at this moment I do care, and it feels awkward to say nothing.”
Notes and quotes from The Prayers of Many by Mike Betts.
1. Church prayer meetings are in decline and in some churches have already died.
2. “Corporate worship in church life has been changed beyond recognition in the past 30 years through much energy and creativity. Imagine what corporate prayer in church life would look like now if the same attention had been given to that.” [Though I’m not sure the change in corporate worship is a good thing, the sentiment in giving more attention to corporate prayer is a good one].
3. Impatience and individualism are two factors that have contributed to the decline.
4. “If you more easily think “how does this apply to me?” and not “how does this apply to us?” then you are thinking individually not corporately.”
5. Corporate prayer in the life of God’s people is something to prize and pursue.
6. Praying together is a normal part of being a believer in Christ.
7. “I have found that when I pray with others I can do better, reach higher, concentrate for longer, find words and “amen” others’ prayers in a way that would simply not be possible if I were on my own.”
8. Charles Spurgeon: “Go home and say to your minister, “Sir, we must have more prayer.” Urge the people to more prayer. Have a prayer-meeting, even if you have it all to yourself; and if you are asked how many were present, you can say, “Four.” “Four! How so?” “Why, there was myself, and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and we have had a rich and real communion together.” We must have an outpouring of real devotion, or else what is to become of many of our churches?”
9. What is praying together like? It is like:
Digging ditches ahead of a flood;
Kindling a fire;
An orchestra playing;
Serving the devil an eviction notice;
And uprooting a tree.
10. “Church history seems to suggest that a move of God occurs when the spiritual ground is almost desert-like.”
11. Prayer meetings can benefit from saying, as Elisha did, “bring us a minstrel.” It is good to sing when we pray. “Before lifting up our voices together in prayer, we lift them up together in praise.”
12. Corporate prayer is like digging up ditches in order to prepare for God to act. It will require effort.
13. We pray for things we have as yet not seen.
14. “The church should not look for individual superheroes but we should look for a united and equipped ‘body’ – the church.”
15. We must never programme or plan church life to such an extent that we cannot respond with corporate prayer to an unforeseen event.
16. If the devil can persuade us that it is peacetime when we are in fact at war, then he has scored a major tactical victory.
17. Note how often the apostle Paul writes to the churches saying “please pray for me”. That’s an encouragement for leaders to ask for prayer.
18. “Our ultimate confidence is not in our praying but in the power and authority of Christ who has and will crush all our enemies under His feet.”
19. “If we have sanitised church to make it look slick all the time, we have lost not only the rawness of human interaction with God but we have lost what family is all about as church. The church is not a West End show and it’s not business showpiece with a keynote talk. It is a family and it is more akin to a Christmas dinner table gathering than a formal dinner jacket affair.”
20. Where do people learn how to pray and to care about the things God care about? By being in prayer meetings.
21. In a prayer meeting crucial components are: content, timing, pace, leadership and flow.
22. “I’ve never regretted praying… when I’ve prayed I’m always glad I did.”
23. “One of the best ways to build unity is to pray together. Praying has a way of joining hearts that might not otherwise be joined.”
24. A great prayer agenda from Jonathan Edwards – “for the awakening of the church in our town and beyond. And the spread of the kingdom of God worldwide.”
25. “We do not love corporate prayer, we love the Lord, and our prayers are a way to express our love for Him and draw nearer to Him.”
26. People should pray for and with one another outside the corporate prayer meeting.
27. “The best way to raise a church to be a praying community is by seizing every opportunity to practice together.”
28. Don’t discount children from participating in church prayer meetings. They can teach us that our prayers don’t have to be complex or long.
29. John Chrysostom: “Among human beings, importunate asking, seeking and knocking are considered rude, ‘troublesome and disgusting’, but with God, not to come asking eagerly is displeasing.”
30. “One of the hindrances to maintaining commitment to long term corporate prayer is that we often do not see any immediate difference after we have prayed.”
31. Pray in faith. Believe God’s promises. Trust God is who He says He is and has done what He says He has.
32. “I’m calling for an army of regulars. An army of ordinary people who stand together, helping each other believe Jesus when He, in effect, says “Listen folks, when you pray things happen.”
33. Jonathan Edwards invited all the churches he had connection with to join him in regular set times to pray. They prayed in their different places, for a season about the same thing. Check out his book ‘An Humble Attempt’. It is encouraging to read of the Enough initiative Mike Betts is heading up which is his own ‘humble attempt’ where he’s invited local churches to join together, in hubs, to pray in different places, at the same time, focusing prayers around similar themes.
34. Jonathan Edwards: “That which God abundantly makes the subject of his promises, God’s people should abundantly make the subject of their prayers.”
35. There’s something powerful about many people praying together.
36. “Non-charismatic churches are often better at praying as they don’t know what else to do!”
37. Learn how to pray God’s promises back to Him.
38. Don’t despise collections of written prayers of praying the creeds.
39. As someone who would not be ‘charismatic’ in their theology, there were odd moments where I wasn’t convinced by what Betts was saying. However, the basic message of the book I’d give a loud ‘Amen’ to, and there was plenty of good stuff as the 38 points above make clear.
Notes and quotes from Prayer by Tim Keller.
1. “Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God.”
2. The Spirit of God enables us to approach God and cry out to Him as our loving Father.
3. Encounters with God involve not only the affections of the heart as well as the convictions of the mind.
4. “Lloyd-Jones once said that he had never written on prayer because of a sense of personal inadequacy in this area.”
5. Paul prayers for his friends reveal what he believed was the most important thing God could give them which was to know Him better. This was more critical than a change in circumstances.
6. John Owen: “A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what the minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.”
7. “To fail to pray is not to merely break some religious rule – it is a failure to treat God as God.”
8. There is a longing in prayer that is never fulfilled in this life.
9. “Prayer as a personal communicative response to the knowledge of God.” This will mean that prayer is affected by the amount and accuracy of that knowledge. The clearer our understanding of who God is, the better our prayers.
10. “In the Bible, God’s living Word, we can hear God speaking to us and we respond in prayer, though we should not call this simply a “response.” Through the Word and Spirit, prayer becomes answering God— a full conversation.”
11. Hearing precedes asking or responding or answering.
12. “Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him.”
13. Speech-act theory makes a convincing case that our words not only convey information, they get things done. God’s words are identical with his actions. “If God’s words are his personal, active presence, then to put your trust in God’s words is to put your trust in God.” The Bible is the way to actually hear God speaking and also to meet God Himself.
14. We get our vocabulary for praying from the Bible. We learn language as it is spoken to us. We speak only to the degree we are spoken to.
15. “Listen, study, think, reflect, and ponder the Scriptures until there is an answering response in our hearts and minds.”
16. Ed Clowney: “The Bible does not present an art of prayer; it presents the God of prayer.”
17. Each person of the Godhead has a distinct work in ensuring our prayers can be heard.
18 We encounter our heavenly Father who sends Hiss Son to save us from our sins so we can be adopted into God’s family. We receive the right to be His children and call on Him as Father. “To be a child of God means access. We know God is attentively listening to us and watching us.” When we pray we sense and appropriate this access and fatherly love and receive the assurance of God’s care for us.
19. Through the Spirit, “prayer is faith become audible.” The Holy Spirit gives us a confident faith that turns naturally into prayer. He also ensures that “the Father hears us praying for what is both truly best for us and pleasing to him.”
20. “We can only be confident that God is our father if we come to him through the mediation of Christ, in Jesus’ name.” What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ Name? “Prayers in his name are prayers… in recognition that the only approach to God… the only way to God is Jesus himself.” Praying in Jesus’ name is a not a magic formula. “To pray in Jesus’ name means to come to God in prayer consciously trusting in Christ for our salvation and acceptance and not relying on our own credibility or record. It is, essentially, to reground our relationship with God in the saving work of Jesus over and over again. It also means to recognise your status as a child of God, regardless of your inner state. God our Father is committed to his children’s good, as any good father would be.”
21. Prayer is costly. Jesus paid the price so God could be our Father.
22. Augustine’s first principle in prayer is that before knowing what to pray for and how to pray for it, you need to become a particular kind of person. “You must see clearly that no matter how great your earthly circumstances become, they can never bring you the lasting peace, happiness, and consolation that are found in Christ. Unless you have that clearly in view, your prayers may go wrong.”
23. Luther encourages turning every biblical text into “a school text, a song book, a penitential book, and prayer book.” By school text he means what a passage want us to believe or do; by song book, how the passage leads us to praise and thank God; by penitential book, how the passage leads us to repent and confess sin; and by prayer book, how it prompts us to appeal to God in petition and supplication.
24. Luther “expects that the Spirit, as we reflect on the biblical truth before God, will sometimes fill our hearts with rich thoughts and ideas that feel poignant and new to us, even when we are thinking about a text or truth that we have heard hundreds of times before.”
25. Joyful admiration of God has a fearful aspect to it. “You are in awe, and therefore you don’t want to mess up… Because of unutterable love and joy in God, we tremble with the privilege of being in his presence and with an intense longing to honour him when we are there. We are deeply afraid of grieving him.”
26. Jesus is the only one who can say with confidence that God always hears me. If we are united to Him, what is true of Him is true of us. If He has the perfect and secure access of obedient child to the Father, so do we.
27. Hallowed be Thy Name is “a request that faith in God would spread throughout the world, that Christians would honour God with the Christ-likeness or holiness of their lives, and that more and more people would honour God and call on his name.”
28. Thy Kingdom come is answered as God extends His royal power over every part of our lives – emotions, desires, thoughts and commitments until Jesus returns and brings the consummation of the kingdom that God has begun in us.
29. The Lord’s Prayer is a summary of all other prayers.
30. “Calvin took great care to define public prayers and the liturgy because he wanted private prayers to be strongly shaped by the corporate worship of the Christian church.”
31. What Prayer Is: a duty and a discipline; conversing with God; a balanced interaction of praise, confession, thanks, and petition.
32. “We should pray even if we are not getting anything out of it.”
33. “Our prayer must be in full, grateful awareness that our access to God as Father is a free gift won by the costly sacrifice of Jesus the True Son, and then enacted in us by the Holy Spirit, who helps us know inwardly that we are his children.”
34. As we pray, we should do so with appreciation of God’s power, majesty, and grace.
35. “If prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice through meditation on the Scripture.”
36. Three basic kinds of prayer: upward (praise and thanksgiving); inward (self-examination and confession); outward (supplication and intercession).
37. CS Lewis: “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.”
38. We are never as thankful as we should be.
39. “Just as all prayer is framed by praise, in the end, all prayer should and will end in praise.”
40. If we know we are loved and accepted in spite of our sins, that makes it far easier to confess our sins admitting our faults and flaws.
41. Confessing your sins involves admitting the sin, but also forsaking, rejecting, and repudiating it.
42. “Our prayer life is the place where we should examine our lives and find the sins that otherwise we would be too insensitive or busy to acknowledge.”
43. Donald Bloesch: “Prayer is not simply petition, but strenuous petition. It is… active pleading with God. It consists not merely in reflection on the promises of God but in taking hold of these promises.”
44. “We should lay before God, as part of our prayer, the reasons why we think that what we ask for is the best thing.”
45. We can leave our concerns with God confident that He will hear them and confident that He will act on them when and as is best.
46. “God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knew.”
47. “If we are going to take time to think our way into the situations and personal lives on which our intercessions focus,” we may not be able to pray for as many items and issues. “Our amplifyings and argumentation will [then] lift our intercessions from the shopping list, prayer-wheel level to the apostolic category of what Paul called ‘struggle’.”
48. Most Protestant churches, though, settled into a pattern of morning private prayer and evening family prayer.
49. John Bunyan was vehemently opposed to all written prayer forms but John Owen believed that “prescribed prayer forms could be useful if they were written by godly persons from their own experience and the light of Scripture. Such prayers can be heart affecting and give stimulation and guidance to our own prayers.”
50. It would be good if daily prayer in private was more interwoven with the corporate prayer of the church and we learn to pray “not merely from reading the Psalms and the rest of the Bible but by hearing and reading the prayers of the church.” Time-tested and carefully considered prayers are not provided as they were in times past.
51. Imagine that your soul is a boat, a boat with both oars and a sail. In this case here are four questions:
i) Are you “sailing”? Sailing means you are living the Christian life with the wind at your back.
ii) Are you “rowing”? Rowing means you are finding prayer and Bible reading to be more a duty than a delight.
iii) Are you “drifting”? Drifting means that you are experiencing all the conditions of rowing—spiritual dryness and difficulties in life. But in response, instead of rowing, you are letting yourself drift. You don’t feel like approaching and obeying God, so you don’t pray or read.
iv) Are you “sinking”? Eventually your boat, your soul, will drift away from the shipping lanes, as it were—and truly lose any forward motion in the Christian life.
Notes and quotes from Pray for the Flock by Brian Croft & Ryan Fullerton.
1. Prayer is a way God’s shepherds protect the flock.
2. “True shepherds love the flock when present with them, and they love the flock when present with no one but God. And one of the ways they show this love is by bringing their needs – known and unknown, tangible and spiritual, individual and congregational – to Jesus the Good Shepherd in prayer.”
3. Prayer is the most difficult aspect of pastoral ministry to maintain.
4. “Those who are not prayed for aren’t aware they are forgotten.”
5. A real danger is going week after week without praying for the church.
6. Prayer should be among your top priorities as a pastor. Why? Not praying for your people is a sin; praying for your people glorifies God; we are called to imitate leaders who pray for their people; praying for your people reflects the priority of the early church; praying for God’s people will lead them to change; and prayer is how ordinary men do extraordinary things for God.
7. “Pastors can never be happy tolerating prayerlessness in their lives.”
8. “To leave God’s people unprayed for is to leave them uncared for, unprovided for, and unled – “like sheep without a shepherd.”
9. “The Christian life is full of trouble. You are either just coming out of trouble, in the midst of trouble, or on your way into trouble.” Trouble gives opportunity to glorify God by praying for help.
10. Prayer is one of “the primary means of promoting the sanctification of God’s people.”
11. Praying with people and pleading on their behalf before the Father are essential aspects of shepherding God’s people.
12. “God’s word leads us to prayer, and prayer leads us to God’s word.”
13. We won’t be motivated to pray unless we have the overwhelming conviction that God alone is the one who can truly help me.
14. “Continually checking our smartphones robs us of time we can devote to prayer.” Set aside undistracted time to pray for our people.
15. It is helpful to have a deliberate system to remind me to pray for my people. Have a list that represents the realistic, active membership roll of the church broken up in 28 days. “After praying for them, I try to make personal contact in the form of a home visit, email, handwritten card, phone call, Facebook note, or text message to let them know I prayed for them on that day.” Following this system will lead to you praying and making contact each month with everyone entrusted to your care.
16. “When pastors fail to pray during their weekly public gatherings, they miss a huge opportunity to model for their members how to pray for one another.”
17. The pastoral prayer allows us to pray about biblical burdens, for specific needs, for specific people (including sick and suffering), and can be tailored to fit specific occasions. Beneficial to pray for evangelistic efforts, other local churches, government, mission efforts.
18. “Praying for these needs publicly also helps the congregation be aware of what is happening in the life of the church and community and allows the pastors to model how the congregation can spiritually understand these issues and pray for these needs.”
19. Schedule time monthly or weekly to pray for the flock with your elders.
20. A question to regularly ask is “Are we praying for those outside of our flock?” It is good to pray that God will use our people to fulfil the commission to reach the nations. “Because we are wired to forget the world, we should use our prayers for our flock to nudge them to engage with the universal church and learn to expand their vision of what God can and will do.”
21. Spurgeon: “The preacher who neglects to pray much must be very careless about his ministry.”
22. “When you sense the desire to pray, respond quickly to that soft voice in your heart. Over time, you will learn to develop a habit of prayer, and prayer will become a greater priority in your life. Create daily disciplines that systematically enable you to pray for all of your people. And involve others in this work.”