Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Praying For Our Churches Today

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On my prayer schedule, Wednesdays are the days that I specifically pray for my church.  Will you join me...and pray for your church as well?  If you don't currently have a commitment to pray regularly for your church, will you make that commitment today?  If you do, please let your pastor(s) know.  I suspect it will mean a lot to them.

If you have a church directory, it might help to take it out and look at it.  If you don't have one, take a moment to search your memory for the faces of your local assembly.

The church is not a mere organization; it's a body made up of living parts.  Each face you see in that directory (or in your memory) is someone you are praying for today.  And each one has a full plate of life to deal with.  Some of them have bumped up against your life in wonderful ways, and some perhaps in painful ways.  Either way, like neighbors, they are all given.  It is no accident that they attend the same local assembly that you do.  They are given to you to bless, to pray for, to edify, to encourage, to forgive as needed.

To love.

Look especially at your pastors, elders, deacons, or whatever other layers of leadership you may have. They need your prayer in special ways.  (For a wonderful guide to praying for your pastor, see this blog post by Joe Thorn.)

Here is my prayer for my church - clergy and laity - today:

"Our Father" - Oh Lord, you have given me such a burden for the self-deceived lost souls in every church, because I was one for so long. How many decades was I faithfully in church -- singing, playing handbells, doing worship songs in Sign Language, teaching, speaking up ... and yet not truly knowing You as Father?  How many are in my church right now who are deceived ... lost but don't know it?  How many there are lost and DO know it?  Father, reach them all.  Please bring them to you until each one can truly call you "Our Father."  And Lord, since you are our Father, then we who know you are siblings indeed.  Give us love for one another!

"Who art in Heaven."  - Thank You, Lord, that You are sovereign, and that there is nothing I can ask for my church which is too difficult for you.

"Hallowed be Your name." - Father, may your name be hallowed in our church!  May there be no flippancy, no irreverence in the name of "relevance," no empty mouthing of words, no coldness.  Not that those who are cold would be turned away...God forbid!  But may those who are cold would be warmed to life.  May your name be presented and received with proper awe and reverence in each part of the church...from clergy to laity, from pulpit, to youth room, to class lectern, to nursery changing tables.  Oh Lord, our world is starving for meaning, for transcendence, for something bigger than self...and yet without knowing You, self-worship is the only remaining option.  And souls starve.  Oh Lord, bring the hungry to our church, and hallow Your name in their ears and their hearts when they come!

"Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in our church as it is in Heaven." - Oh Father, may Your reign be palpable within our walls because you reign in our hearts!  Your will is done perfectly, lovingly, joyfully, trustingly, willingly in Heaven...let Your will be done the same way in our church.  Please reign in the way our church does "business"... in its bookkeeping, in its staffing of leadership positions, in its building program, in its decision making, in its counseling, in its spending, in its acts of charity, in its programs, in its recommendations, in its meetings, in its classes, in its sermons, in its singing... in every way.

"Give our church today its daily bread" - Please meet today's material needs as with Manna from Heaven, and let us trust and not fret or go into debt for tomorrow.  Protect us from the excess that might seduce our leadership away from You and lure us into Laodicea (Rev 3:14-19).  Give us our daily kingdom work to do (John 4:32-34), even if that's very different from what we had planned to do.  And give us the daily portion of Your Spirit as food and drink to strengthen us for our work (John 6:48-58).

"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" - Oh Father, let there be no divisions in our local assembly!  Give us forgiving hearts; not just willing, but eager to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).  As I think through the people in my local assembly, please help me to be honest with myself about those I have wronged, and help me to seek reconciliation and make restitution wherever needed.  Please help those whom I have wronged to forgive me.  And I pray Your help as I resolve to forgive those who have wronged me, and as I seek to bless them in Your name.  As we all do these things, Father, please forgive us our debts for Jesus' sake.

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."  - I know, Oh Lord, that Satan desires to sift us like wheat.  That is his desire for all Your people and Your churches.  Please, oh Lord, lead us not into such trials unless You have first prepared our hearts to stand.  May we also prepare our hearts to stand, by taking up the whole armor of God as You have commanded us.  And if we must be sifted by some trial, may we bring honor to Your name throughout it, and when we have been restored, may we strengthen our brethren.

For Yours in the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, amen!

Can you imagine if every church had many members praying for it in this way?

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