Four Ways to Get Involved

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Prayer

Prayer Banner - 2015

“Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief.” -John Piper 

PRAYER GATHERINGS

Sunday Mornings at 8:45 AM | Pre-Service Prayer at the church
Tuesday Mornings at 6:30 AM | Remedy Office

Prayer is essential to the believer’s life. Prayer is like air to the lungs – necessary, constant, both automatic and purposed; without prayer, we die. Through prayer we acknowledge our need for God, for His strength, for His wisdom, for His intervention, and for His grace. It is through prayer that we, by His divine and sovereign will, move the heart of God to save.

Prayer is not a hotline for instant answers or God’s Google. Prayer is the means for mission and God’s design to move His mission forward for His glory. God chooses to use us in the process of mission and mission keeps us dependent on Him. Mission keeps us in prayer.

God is the only one who can accomplish and complete the mission. He is the only one who can redeem and restore. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). God establishes His church, not man (Matthew 16:18).

If we find ourselves unmotivated to pray, it may be we have lost sight of our purpose and mission in life:

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, Ephesians 6:18-19

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 1 Timothy 2:1-8

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. Mark 1:35-39

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 22:29-31

This short segment from a sermon by David Platt summarizes the importance of prayer; I hope you find it encouraging:

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One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50

The account of the woman who anointed Jesus is recorded in all four gospels. Jesus was in the home of Simon the Pharisee, reclining at his table. A woman of the city, a sinner, learned that Jesus was at Simon’s house and came to anoint Him. She is unnamed in this passage, but it may have been Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus. The woman went to the house for Jesus; for who He was and what He had done in her life and she brought her most precious possession to Him. What can we learn from her act of worship?

1. She had a sense of urgency and expectancy. The woman went to Jesus as soon as she learned where He was. She was expecting to see Him, so she brought the alabaster jar of perfume with her. Her urgency is similar to the woman at the well. When Jesus revealed everything He knew about her life, she went back to her village and said, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). When Philip started following Jesus, he found Nathanael and said, “Come and see” (John 1:43-46). Philip had a sense of urgency and expectancy.

Do we expect to meet Jesus on Sunday mornings? Do we bring Him our best during the week? There should be a sense of wanting to be with Him.

2. She came for Jesus and only for Jesus. She went to the house for Jesus, not to be seen by others. The only interaction that came from others was when she was ridiculed by the Pharisee for her actions.

3. She brought her best. The perfume she brought Jesus was worth a year’s wage and the fragrance filled the entire house (John 12:3). Her offering wasn’t about what she owned but about what owned her heart. Jesus had her heart and she gave from a grateful heart.

God does not accept all worship. We see this in Genesis 4, when God had regard for Abel and his offering but none for Cain. In Isaiah 58, God’s people wonder why their prayers go unanswered though they have fasted and humbled themselves. When Saul returns from battle with the best animals, Samuel meets him and asks why he did not obey God. “And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams'” (1 Samuel 15:22). When the rich young ruler asks Jesus what good deed he must do to have eternal life, Jesus replied, “There is only one who is good” (Matthew 19:17).

In Isaiah, the people had pride in their hearts over all they had done. Saul’s disobedience may have come from fear of men or pride. When Jesus instructed the ruler to go and sell his possessions, the ruler left sorrowful because his possessions owned him. It’s hard to worship Jesus as ultimate in your heart when something else owns it. It’s not about what we own to give, but about what owns our heart. If anything is in the way, God wants it. When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham purposed in his heart to make the sacrifice (Genesis 22). He had every intention to drop the knife out of obedience to God. What can own our hearts? A spouse, our family, a job, a position.

4. She broke the jar. The woman broke the jar of perfume so that she could anoint Jesus; she was untethered and let it all go. She did not hesitate or deliberate over how much to give. She held nothing back from Jesus and gave it all, without reservation. She came to Him in worship.

5. She humbled herself. She kissed Jesus’ feet and cleansed them with her tears. She had the right perspective before Jesus. We may think we know the best use of our time, but God knows our hearts. How do we approach Jesus? Do we only give Him ten minutes of our time? Is it all about our agenda? Would we kiss His feet? She came all in; she picked up her cross to follow Him, and her heart was all about Him.

The oil she used to anoint Jesus was so strong that maybe it lingered. Maybe when Jesus was being mocked with a crown of thorns on His head, when He was being whipped, when He was hanging from the cross, when the blood mixed with sweat flowed down His face, He caught a whiff of that expensive oil. Although seven days had passed, she had poured the ointment over His head, feet, and clothes. It was a thick and strong ointment, and so maybe the scent lingered and filled His nostrils while on the cross and in the moment, He remembered His words to her: “Go, your sins are forgiven.” He was paying for that forgiveness and her sweet anointing reminded Him of all that was at stake. She could come into His presence and we can come into His presence because He was anointed for burial, because He went to the cross. On that cross, He bore our sins in His body, that we would die to sin and live to righteousness:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus made the way for her and for us to come into His presence. Jesus made a way for us to worship Him and to know Him. We should come the same way she did, with urgency and expectancy. We should come all in, breaking the jar, full of humility, just to be with Him, to be in His presence.

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Exemple

Week 1: The Beliefs of a Christian | A Christian Worldview 

Week 2: The Activity of a Christian | Prayer 

Week 3: The Activity of a Christian | The Bible

Week 4: The Activity of a Christian | Community 

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In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:16-20

After commanding believers to take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, Paul continues with the attitude that must be maintained: an attitude of prayer and keeping alert. Paul says, “praying at all times…keep alert.” These are not the means by which we pick up the helmet and sword but rather the manner in which we pick them up. If we were to dig a ditch, the means would be a shovel; the manner would be to dig quickly or with great joy.

We are in a war and we fight the enemy with our spiritual armor (the means). Prayer is the manner in which we take up the helmet and sword, demonstrating our dependence on Jesus for power, wisdom, and guidance. This is an exhortation to pray at all times and keep alert, but in this context, the exhortations refer specifically to taking up the helmet and the sword. The passage could be read another way:

“Keep praying and stay alert when taking up your helmet and your sword because an attack is imminent; the schemes are many and the enemy is cunning. God’s power and wisdom is needed. Keep praying, pray for all of us.”

What is the role of prayer in the battle?

In a recent movie, a woman sits in a hotel room, talking to her husband and son on FaceTime. She wants to be home with them, but ends the call to go to an appointment. She picks up her coat, grabs her purse, and walks out the door. As the door closes behind her, the camera focuses on the credenza next to the door. On the credenza were flowers, miscellaneous items, and her phone – she left her phone behind.

The phone represents communication and a connection with help and support. Today when we leave the house without our phones, we feel vulnerable. We have become dependent on our phones for everything from directions and information, to communication and distraction. Prayer should be like our phones: we should feel vulnerable without prayer and never think of going anywhere without it.

Prayer is our spiritual means of communication with the One we need to be in touch with for guidance, wisdom, and power. Prayer is necessary for survival in the battle we find ourselves. Many of us do not look at prayer for spiritual survival, but for temporal gain and comfort. We often use prayer as a heavenly eBay, designed to get things we want. We bid on things with our spiritual capital rather than engaging in the battle for souls. Prayer is really a battle for souls, our soul and the souls of others.

We’ve redefined God’s definition of a blessing to what we want as a blessing. Ephesians 1-3 is filled with many of God’s blessings, but there is no mention of the perfect wife or husband, a new car, or an A on an important test. Jesus is the blessing and He is what our hearts yearn for. Jesus is the truth we put on, He is our righteousness, He is our peace, He gives us faith and He is the object of our faith to extinguish the fiery darts. He is our salvation and the sword of the Spirit. He is our blessing and that is to be our mindset as we pray:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3

Pastor and author John Piper describes prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie:

God has given us prayer not as an intercom for increased convenience in our secluded cottages, but as a walkie-talkie connecting the general’s headquarters with the transportation line and the field hospital and the front line artillery. Prayer is not a bell to call the servants to satisfy some desire we happen to feel, it is a battlefield transmitter for staying in touch with the general. • John Piper

Prayer is vital, like air to the lungs or water to a goldfish. Some of us are dried up spiritually and stuck on the floor, like a goldfish out of water. We have been living without prayer as an integral part of our life. Why don’t we pray? Here are three reasons:

1. Incorrect view of ourselves – we overestimate ourselves
2. Incorrect view of God – we underestimate God
3. Incorrect view of prayer – we don’t estimate (place value on) prayer at all

We have an incorrect view of ourselves.
We feel like it’s the first inning of a baseball game and we’ve got it covered, there’s no need for a relief pitcher or pinch hitter. It’s only when we’re in the bottom of the eighth inning and completely buried that we call out to God. We overestimate our own abilities, not realizing that we only have one shot at life and our opponent plays for keeps. It is appointed for every man to die before judgment (Hebrews 9:27), though we do not know the day or the hour.

In the early days of World War II, Winston Churchill said to Britain: “I must drop one word of caution; for, next to cowardice and treachery, overconfidence, leading to neglect or slothfulness, is the worst of martial crimes.” We are in a war and cannot afford to be overconfident in ourselves, which will only lead to our ruin.

We have an incorrect view of God.
We underestimate His power, His authority, His willingness to get involved, His call on our life, His role in the world, His abhorrence for evil and rebellion, His holiness, His grace, His mercy, and His great love for us. When we neglect prayer, we communicate that we have an incorrect view of God, ourselves, and prayer.

We have an incorrect view of prayer.
James 4 tells us we have not because we ask not, and we ask but do not receive because we ask with incorrect motives. 1 John 5 tells us that if we pray according to God’s will, He hears us and if He hears us, we will receive what we asked for. What are we asking for and why?

If we are in the midst of a battle, we are on mission. If we radio to command for additional supplies but instead ask for portable jacuzzis so we can relax and ear plugs so that the warning sirens don’t disturb our sleep, the answer will be no – none of those things will help us accomplish our mission or help us in battle. God is not going to send us comfort, which would be detrimental to the fight – He loves us too much to let us be comfortable. We are not in this world to be comfortable, we must remember that we are in a battle!

We go to God for His will to be done (Luke 11:1). What is God’s will? His will is for people to be saved, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). His will is that we be conformed to His image (Romans 8:28-29), abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4:3), give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18), and do the will of God (1 Peter 2:15). God’s will keeps us steadfast in the battle and requires prayer.

With a correct view of God and man, we see that: God is all-sufficient and man is not; God does not exist for man but man exists for God, and prayer is the lifeline God gives us for the battle.

Why are we in this battle? Why did God give us the mission? Prayer is for mission but mission exists so we will pray! God has chosen to use us for our good and His glory. We, the church, are to demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God:

so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father… so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith— Ephesians 3:10-14, 17

God calls us to make His wisdom known by living out Christ in our lives. Victory in the battlefield is an overflow of Jesus in our lives. The battle drives us to prayer and prayer gives us the victory in battle. When we’re in a crisis, we pray. If we don’t pray, we’ve lost sight of the battle. There is a cost in every battle and sacrifice involved. The battle is not about convenience and it require us to put on spiritual armor.

In this passage, Paul tells us that we are in a war. This war is not against other people, but against principalities and powers unseen – it is a spiritual battle. We cannot fight this battle with conventional means; we must use spiritual armor, the armor God provides that we find in Jesus. The armor is the means with which we fight and the manner in which we wear the armor is by prayer. This is not prayer some of the time for some of the saints, but prayer all the time, in all ways, for all of the saints.

We are to pray at all times because the battle rages at all times. Praying at all times means having an awareness of our need for God. When Nehemiah was before the King, he recognized his need for God and prayed:

I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. Nehemiah 2:3-4

Peter jumped out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus. When he began to sink, he cried out:

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Matthew 14:30

Devotion to prayer affects everything in our life:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

The battle is not against flesh and blood but is a spiritual battle that cannot be fought with conventional, carnal means. Ephesians 5 tells us to be filled with the Spirit continually. To be pray at all times, we need to be walk in the Spirit if we expect victory. Being filled with the Spirit is submission to the Spirit, letting Him rule and reign in our lives. We are to pray in the Spirit:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

The Spirit gives us power to wield the weapon, the Word.

We are to pray in all ways. We pray prayers of praise and thanksgiving, prayers of petition, quiet prayers on our knees, corporate prayers, and quiet prayers. We pray long prayers of desperation and short prayers for help or praise; prayers for salvation of those unsaved, prayers for brothers and sisters suffering around the world, prayers for those we know and prayers for those we may never meet until we are in heaven. We pray prayers for our leaders, pastors, and families; prayers of confession and repentance, and prayers of the psalmist. Pray in all ways!

We are to pray with all perseverance, keeping alert:

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 1 Peter 4:7

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

In the battle of intercessory prayer, the devil will try to attack us and pull us away from prayer. Persistence is key because prayer is not about the magic of repetition; prayer is relational. Prayer is about being faithful, determined, and dependent in going to God. We persevere because Jesus persevered when He endured the cross for us (Hebrews 12:1-3). We have a hope and our hope does not disappoint. We don’t blindly persevere but run with endurance, continually reminding ourselves of our need for HIm because our hearts are prone to wander.

We are to pray for all the saints. All believers are engaged in the battle. There has been a focus on unity in Ephesians and this continues with the exhortation to pray. Paul mentions “all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15-16; Ephesians 3:14, 18). Now we see that all the saints involved in the struggle against evil make up a larger army that collectively battles against the enemy (Ephesians 6:18). We need each other.

So we pray at all times, in all ways, with all perseverance, for all the saints.

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Prayer at the Park

Prayer at the Park banner

Join us for prayer at Legion Park this month as we gather to pray for the upcoming Easter service and stand in the gap for our city.

Sunday, April 6 | 6:00 PM
Sunday, April 13 | 6:00 PM
Monday, April 14 – Friday, April 18 | 7:00 PM (CGs will meet at the park for prayer this week)
Saturday, April 19 | 4:00 PM (Volunteer final walkthrough + prayer)

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