Persecution does not take a day off. Refugees seeking asylum from their murderous persecutors are always on the run. When not running for their life, they are crossing fortified borders and dangerous waters in search of a safe place. Here in the USA, the Church designates one day, First Sunday in November, as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP for the PC); that day Elder Mark Finley led us in prayer. Next month we extend our concern for persecuted believers as we allocate our year-end gifts in the Generosity Campaign, some of which will support one particular group of persecuted believers on the run—the Rohingya refugees.
For one day we will gather to lament, intercede, advocate for and learn from those who suffer for the gospel. This year, the internationally recognized day of prayer was the first Sunday in November. However, so that we can bring in a speaker and tie in with an already-called congregational meeting, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is happening for High Point Church this Sunday, November 20.
Telling stories of how we see God at work in our lives and the lives of others both expresses adoration of God and brings glory to God — it is an act of worship. As your pastor, here is evidence that I see of God moving in our church — things to foster and protect.
Prayer will always have an element of mystery to it. We can’t completely figure out how it works or how we interact with God’s will through prayer. But we do know that God tells us to pray, and that He reveals a picture of what prayer should look like in the Bible. This is a resource to get you started in exploring what the Bible says about prayer.
We live in a noisy world in which busyness is often treated as a badge. Even as we complain about our busyness, many of us would be lost without it. Conscious of it or not, it becomes a defining piece of our identity and worth — in our eyes and in others’.
In our world of constant movement, it can be frustratingly difficult to find consistency and intimacy in prayer. I’m definitely speaking from personal experience. In recent weeks, God has been teaching me about the lost art of attention and how to recover it in the midst of a world that competes for our focus with excessive volume and motion.
To sit in the presence of God in prayer is an act of love and obedience to be sure. It also has a lot in common with the ancient practice of Sabbath. Both are acts of trust. When we choose to step out of our busyness for a moment, we trust that the world will spin without our maintenance. We trust that our work was never really in our hands to begin with.
Speaking for myself, even when I finally sit down to pray, it’s not long before my mind drifts off. I fear that I have destroyed my ability to focus. Faced with the choice between a long exertion and a quick reward, I will consistently chose the latter. But just as I’ve trained my brain to be distracted, I can re-train myself to foster attentiveness. I can’t cure my distraction, but I can give God space to do it.
Generations ago, the pastoral prayer held a place in the church almost as significant as the sermon. Pastors were to write two main orations each Sunday: a prayer offered to God for the people, and a sermon offered to the people for God.
The pastoral prayer has a shepherding function. In it, the shepherd or elder prays for God’s scattered flock. The pastoral prayer also has a discipleship function in that it teaches people about God and how we should speak to him both for ourselves and for others. Continue reading Building an Intentionally Pastoral Prayer→