Posted by: pastortomvabeach | May 20, 2014

Thought for the Week May 25, 2014

First off, let me thank my colleague, Doug Crabb, for filling in for me last week and many other weeks in the past. He’s always there to lend a hand when I get over-committed. His note last week about prayer warriors reminds us all that prayer is every Christian’s privilege. Did you note that is said “fervent” prayer was not only meant for the “serious pray-ers”? I admit that I struggle with “serious” prayer and I surely couldn’t say that I’m on the upside of that struggle more than on the down side. Yet I believe prayer is for me and I keep struggling.

Rev. Daniel Henderson wrote about perils that arise whenever we decide to get serious about praying in his weekly e-devotional. I can relate to most of these perils which I’m sure may be true of most of us. I’m gonna reprint his note, half this week and half next. My goal is not to help us find excuses for why we don’t pray but to help us know the obstacles that arise and seek the Lord’s help to overcome them so we can get serious about praying. So here is: “Prayer Perils”

“Our positive ideals about prayer prompt most Christians to speak enthusiastically about ‘talking with God.’ We tend to eagerly embrace prayer as a tool for personal enrichment and coping with difficulties. Many church leaders aspire to see prayer become more evident within the congregation. However, when we move beyond romantic notions about prayer to real commitment, unexpected opposition always follows. Concerted efforts to make prayer an authentic and all-encompassing reality in the life of the church can evoke perplexing responses.

“After 30+ years of pastoral leadership in prayer (and in working with hundreds of pastors across the nation to develop greater levels of prayer), I have come to some new clarity about the realistic expectations we must have in this all-important journey.

“1. Expect satanic counter-attack – When we make the commitment to accelerate our praying, we pick a fight with the devil at a whole new level. Our spiritual enemy is not particularly threatened by a busy church, a big church, an educated church, a high-tech church, a talent-rich church or even a conservative, evangelical church. He is threatened by a praying church. When a congregation declares their dependence on the power of the Spirit and the word, through prayer, Satan amasses all varieties of counter-attack.

“Yet, we are called to be ‘praying menaces’ to the devil. We have powerful spiritual weapons in prayer to wage a winning battle (II Corinthians 6:7, 10:4; Ephesians 6:18) and must persist and prevail.

“2. Expect superficial resistance – Many people are very content with a nominal request-based approach to prayer. When they hear that prayer can be something more, but that it will require more time and effort, superficial excuses abound. ‘I already know how to pray,’ is a common rebuttal.

“Additionally, seeking the Lord through intimate worship with fellow believers can be feel threatening to some who just want to get together to pray about ‘things’, usually pertaining to superficial concerns in the lives of other people. Expect pushback. (Read more in my previous e-devotion, ‘The Pride Divide’).

“3. Expect traditional suspicion – Traditions die hard, especially when they have provided a safe and predictable path and a sense of belonging. For decades, church goers have been in a rut of attending ‘prayer meetings’ that feature Bible study, discussion and extended periods of talking about prayer requests – but minimal prayer. To seek to change that tradition through a Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, worship-based approach upsets the established apple cart. Expect misunderstanding and questioning.”

Some of Henderson’s thoughts here and next week are directed at church leaders who want to create a culture of fervent, serious prayer in their churches. That’s us! We understand that to reach the culture in which we live, to be a strong witness in our community, we need to cover everything we do and everyone we touch in prayer. We are not there yet but we’re still sold out to getting there. Is it possible that any of the first three perils have hit you? If so, would you seriously seek the Lord and ask Him to vault you over them? We’ll be a praying church no matter what it takes? Are you with me? Just thinking out loud.

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