Archive for the Prayer Category
Yesterday, France was brutalized by Islamic terrorists.
This is a time for praying against what God is against, and for what God is for. God is against murder, and he is against the false gods that demand the slaughter of the innocent. He is for the putting down of injustice, and he is for the knowledge of his glory filling the earth, even through the salvation of former worshipers of Allah.
There are many things to pray on a weekend like this. Denny Burke recommends we pray the words of Psalm 10, and that’s a good suggestion:
Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
Here are some helpful reflections, suggestions, and articles from around the web on this and related tragedies.
- John Piper helps us with his article, “France: A Fabric Torn.”
- Scotty Smith offers “A Prayer of Lament in Response to the Terror Attack in Paris.”
- If you’re up for some sermon listening, this might be a weekend for reviewing Ryan’s sermon on several imprecatory psalms, “Praying against what is against God.”
- Joe Carter offers his always timely, “9 Things You Should Know About Islamic State.”
- A year ago, Joe Carter published “Three Ways to Pray for our Enemies.”
- Back in February, Tom Schreiner offered “A Biblical Meditation on the Execution of 21 Christians.”
- Also in February, Caleb Greggsen answers the question, “Does Islam Inevitably Lead to Violence?“
- Finally, from the Atlantic March, here’s a careful and important piece on the origin and aims and ISIS: “What ISIS Really Wants.”
On Thursday of this past week the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a ruling that requires the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in all fifty states.
As Christians, we are not of this world, but we are in it and we care about and are concerned for what happens here. And so on Sunday we prayed in reflection on the Supreme Court’s decision for our nation, for the church, and for everything in-between. Here’s how we prayed together:
Father, increasingly, our nation is calling evil good and good evil, and we have a mixture of emotions about this.
On the one hand, we know who rules the world, who set the stars in their place, and who orders history. You do. The nations are as a drop in the bucket to you, and our leaders, in all of their righteous and unrighteous decisions, are ultimately working out your plan for history. And so we are calm and we are confident because history is yours, and we belong to you.
And yet, though trusting you fully, we are troubled in so many ways. We look to you, yet we lament.
- We’re troubled for a nation that has set its way against the Creator. Marriage is something it can and should recognize and regulate, but marriage is not the state’s to change, for the state did not design human beings. It governs them. Lord, we trust you with calm, serious, and happy reverence for the institution you made, even if we look crazy for it.
- We’re troubled for those who experience same-sex attraction, that the affirmation of their desires as good might put them farther from the life-saving truth about sin and salvation in the gospel. Lord, we trust you to perform the miracle that is always your to perform in conversion—to open blind eyes and save sinners.
- We’re troubled for those in our lives whom we love, people made in your image, who believe and even celebrate a lie that leads to death. This is so very sad. Lord, may we trust you and your Word when it seems like so few do.
- We’re troubled for children yet unborn who will inherit a world with a more confused vision of marriage than we’ve known ourselves, children who will have a lesser chance of growing up with the mother and father who made them. Trends in other lands confirm what we would expect: that laws teach norms and norms matter. Lord, may we trust you to be the Father of the fatherless.
- We’re troubled for what it will mean to be wrongly identified by culture and law as bigoted—for what this will mean for our influence in the schools, as teachers, as parents on PTO boards; for what it will mean for our workplace relationships when we can’t congratulate a friend on their engagement or attend their wedding; when we are ruled out for a promotion or position of influence; when certain vocations, in time, are simply out of bounds for people who believe what we do. Lord, may we trust you more as exiles in this world, as strangers and as aliens.
- We’re troubled for how this will effect the freedom of people of all revealed faiths—Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others—who hold to a traditional understanding of marriage, and for the temptation they will face to deny what they know and so sin against their conscience. Lord, may we trust you with hard work for the just freedom of all persons to believe without coercion and exercise their religion in the normal course of their lives.
- We’re troubled for how this may over time effect our work together for the common good in Christian day-cares, schools for children, Christian colleges and universities, campus ministries, military chaplain programs, adoption agencies, and even perhaps Christians who desire to foster and adopt little ones. Lord, may we trust you with persevering and painstaking work for the good of our communities.
- We’re troubled for the pressure our elected officials will feel to be on the so-called “right side of history” on future erosions of marriage that seem inevitable when marriage is untethered from the twoness of the sexes. May we trust you with patient, persevering, and prudent self-government.
- We’re troubled for the temptation Christians and churches will face to abandon a faithful witness by either denying the sinfulness of sin and so losing the gospel, or by affirming the truth about marriage in a way that denies its beauty and repels sinners. Neither response will ensure that we are a refuge for sinners who need refuge when sin’s empty promises leave them hurt, guilty, and alone. Lord, may we trust you—we need you—to keep us from timidity and from pride. May we make sin known and be known for our Savior from sin.
- Lord, we are troubled about many things. We are even troubled by how much others are or aren’t troubled by these things we have lamented. Give us unity around the main things and wisdom together to know when those things are at stake. Give us patience in our listening and wisdom and winsomeness in our speech.
Thankfully, while there many reasons to lament, there are still many more to trust, and in trusting, to sing and to rejoice.
- And so we rejoice in Christ, risen from the dead and seated. Our world changes, but he isn’t going anywhere. We fear nothing for nothing can separate us from him.
- We rejoice in Christ, who was a stranger in this world. Every difficulty for his sake confirms that we are his.
- And we rejoice in Christ, who is building his church. Maybe now, Father, you will be pleased to receive more glory in us as we give you more glory in our marriages against the backdrop of a place that is trading it in.
Glorify your Son—the King of Glory, the Highest Judge, our Risen Lamb—in whose name we pray.
Helpful responses to the Supreme Court ruling:
- “Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage,” Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (click here for more articles from the ERLCon the SCOTUS decision)
- “CBMW’s Official Response to the SCOTUS Ruling,” Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- “Why the Church Should Neither Cave nor Panic about the Decision on Gay Marriage,” Russell Moore
- “What Does the Bible Say?,” Kevin DeYoung
- “Top 10 Quotes from the Dissenting Justices on Same-Sex Marriage,” Trevin Wax
- “How Will the U.S. Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision Affect Religious Liberty?,” The Atlantic
- “The Supreme Court and religious liberty: Reason for concern,” Andrew Walker
- “Gay Conservatism and Straight Liberation,” Ross Douthat
- “Everything Has Changed and Nothing Has Changed — The Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage,” Albert Mohler (Click here for Mohler’s Daily Podcast here)
- “Sam Allberry on Ministering to Same-Sex Attracted Friends,” Joe Carter (click here for the ERLC’s site, Equip, equipping the church regarding same-sex marriage and homosexuality)
- “Talking to your children about sex, marriage and same-sex marriage,” with oundtable contributors: Jani Ortlund, Stephanie Goeke, Krissie Inserra, Trillia Newbell and Jena Starke
- “Lessons for the Marriage Debate from the Pro-Life Movement,” Russell Moore
- “Opening Our Eyes to Obergefell and Its Effects: A Pastoral, Cultural, and Legal Round-Up,” David Schrock
Books to equip you for crucial conversations:
- Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, by Ryan Anderson.
- We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong, by Al Mohler.
- What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, by Kevin DeYoung.
- Compassion without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth, by Adam Barr
- Is God Anti-Gay?, Sam Allberry (click here for Sam’s ministry, Living Out)
For a helpful tone-setting response to the decision, here’s a video from Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Finally, in case you missed it, click here to watch or listen to a three part seminar hosted last year at Desert Springs Church, titled, Homosexual Marriage: Seeking Clarity, Conviction, and Compassion.
From October 22-24, DSC hosted the third annual Charles Simeon Trust Albuquerque Workshop on Biblical Exposition.
If that’s an earful, which it is, it’s enough to say that this workshop serves as a kind of spring training for a number of teachers and preachers in our area. Each workshop is made up of three elements:
- Six instructional sessions to sharpen tools for Bible interpretation
- Three Bible exposition sessions to demonstrate the power of the Word faithfully preached
- Six hours of small group interaction on Biblical texts
This year our workshop was concentrated on the gospels and, specifically, the Gospel according to Mark. To learn more about the Simeon Trust workshops, click here.
Naturally, our prayers are often centered on what’s happening in our life, our city, and our church. In addition, we often pray for the remotest parts of the world. This is all very good. But as you read this post, consider praying for the teaching and preaching ministries of the churches throughout our region, and specifically New Mexico. God gets his work in the world done through the Word. The church needs men who are progressing in their work with the Bible. That’s what this workshop week was about, and it’s what we can pray will continue for the strength of the church in our place.
Here are some photos from the week:
This year we were joined by 45 preachers and teachers on site from 27 different churches, including 20 preaching pastors from churches around the region. Assuming each of these guys will go home more faithful in his teaching and preaching, 5300 congregation members will hear the Bible more clearly for the investment of these men in this week of study.
The following is a prayer adapted from the pastoral prayer from Sunday, November 17, 2013.
Great Father of glory, we rejoice as we ponder your salvation.
Salvation is yours and you are on your throne. And one day we will know this salvation in its fullness in the new creation: a place without sin; a place without competing and false gods; a place without the proud human opposition to your throne, which though futile is everywhere around us, and in us; a place without sin, sadness, and death.
While we wait, we pray now for those caught in a fallen world.
We want to pray for those who have been devastated by the winds and waves in the Philippines. Rows of bodies are even now being collected and staged for burial in mass trenches. The body count is devastating. The heartbreak of parents and of children is unlike anything most of us here have known. This Typhoon was not beyond your jurisdiction. It was a part of the world you cursed because of Adam’s sin. It is a reminder that the entire world is under judgment, even if this tragedy is not a specific judgment for the specific sins of a specific people. Father, as your Word says, the creation groans. We have heard it grown this week. We pray that these dark days would lead to great light and hope for the people of the Philippines. May your work through your people with your Word bear great fruit. We pray for help, and comfort, and safety for those sleeping under the stars even now, perhaps especially for women and for children without the protection of the husbands and fathers they have lost. And most of all we pray that this shake up of everything familiar to these precious people would mean a shake up of their lives at levels deeper than they could imagine. We may not be able to track it and trace it, but perhaps you would be pleased to grant salvation to many through the doors that this tragedy will open for the gospel.
And Father, we pray for the unborn sons and daughters in the wombs of mothers in our city. Specifically, in light of the ordinance brought before our city this week, we pray for the restraining grace of human government to be more closely aligned with the reality of human life in the womb, and the reality that all human life is valuable as such, and not just certain kinds of human life. We are a people in history uniquely privileged and accountable with our hand on the wheel here, not only governed but governing through our political process. And so we pray for the day when we will look back on these years as a nation with great contrition and embarrassment at what our laws taught, approved, and even promoted, and with great joy at how you have answered our prayers.
We pray for the witness of the church and for many conversations to take place this week. We pray for conversations this week with those who are considering an abortion, that our words and our lives would clearly and beautifully demonstrate the preciousness of human life. We pray for conversations this week with men and women who have committed abortions, that we may offer the hope of the gospel to them, which forgives all of our sins. We pray for conversations with this week with those who approve of abortion, that their minds and that their hearts may be changed.
Father, we remember that the New Testament Scriptures were written in the midst of the great darkness that is this world, in the midst of persecution, and in a world filled with great evil. And yet they were written with resilient hope and a certain confidence in your wise purposes centered in Jesus Christ. We thank you for bringing us into this hope. We thank you for opening our eyes and calling us into the light. We pray that you would do that for many in our city through the preaching of the gospel this week.
Gracious Father, we need your Word. We are dead without it.
In Jesus’ name we pray these things,
If the church is to be strong for her work in the world, she will need to be established in the Word. Preachers are a primary way God gets that done. Listen to how Paul described Timothy’s job:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. – 1 Timothy 4:1-2
And so this is how we can pray for the church: by praying for God’s preachers to preach God’s Word.
This week at DSC we’ve had 40 pastors from throughout the region on site for a preaching workshop led by Simeon Trust. It’s called, the Simeon Trust Workshop on Biblical Exposition and this is DSC’s second year to host this three day event. Its purpose is to help pastors grow in their confidence in and ability with the Word of God. For those interested in theological training who desire to know and teach the Bible well, Simeon Trust also offers an online course worth checking out here.
Below are some pictures from the last few days of the workshop. As you browse these photos and as this workshop comes to mind, please pray for these men and for their encouragement in the lofty, difficult, and wonderful task of preaching the Word.
This Sunday morning, Juan Sanchez, one of this year’s workshop speakers, will be preaching for us. Prepare for his sermon, titled, “When God is No Longer Silent,” by reading 1 Samuel 3. Juan is the preaching pastor at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, and a council member for The Gospel Coalition.
One of the ways that we’re told to praise God is through exultant description. For example, in verses 7-8 we’re told to “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.”
To encourage us in this, Ryan mentioned a list of God’s attributes alphabetically listed in a book called, Prayer Coach. In the appendix of this book, there’s a section titled, “A to Z of Biblical Names, Titles, and Attributes of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The book is available online or at our newly refreshed Resource Center, opening this Sunday. This is a great tool for ascribing to God glory in our prayers.
Here’s an example from the letter A:
- Able (Dan. 3:17; Matt. 9:28; Rom. 16:25; 2 Cor. 9:8; Eph. 3:20; 2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 7:25)
- Abounding in love and faithfulness (Ex. 34:6)
- Adam, the last (1 Cor. 15:45)
- Advocate (Job 16:19; 1 John 2:1)
- All (Col. 3:11)
- Almighty, the (Job 5:17)
- Alpha (Rev. 1:8, 21:6)
- Amen, the (Rev. 3:14)
- Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:22)
- Anointed One (Psa. 2:2; Acts 4:27)
- Apostle and high priest (Heb. 3:1)
- Architect and builder (Heb. 11:10)
- Atoning sacrifice (2 John 2:2)
- Author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2)
- Avenger (2 Sam. 22:48; Psa. 94:1)
- Awesome (Ex. 15:11; Neh. 1:5; Dan. 9:4)
Vacation Bible School begins on Monday! Hundreds of children from our own church and from the neighborhood will be with us each evening from 6:00-8:30 PM, learning about God and about salvation in Christ through the Scriptures. The first chapter of the book of Ephesians tells us that God’s purpose in all of his saving work is “the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). Pray for our children at VBS, that they would know God as he has revealed himself in his Word, that they would trust his saving promises in Christ, and praise him with their lives.
To help you pray for the children, here are the themes they will be focusing on each day and several verses that they will be hearing and learning.
Monday: Praise God for His Greatness
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
Tuesday: Praise God for His Authority
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Wednesday: Praise God for His Providence
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Thursday: Praise God for His Power
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Friday: Praise God for His Love
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Register your children for VBS online here, and don’t forget to extend an invitation to your neighbors and friends who have VBS age children. They are welcome to register on Monday night, if that is best for them.
Also, if you would like to serve in VBS but can’t be a part of the action during the week, perhaps you could serve our volunteers by helping provide for the daily volunteer meal. There is still a need for several meal items, including napkins, carrots, bell peppers, potato salad, grapes, and a few other things. Please email Nicole Arredondo if you are interested, at email@example.com.