See You At The Pole – Happening NOW!

As the sun comes up today, teenagers around the country are meeting at the flag poles on their school campus to pray.

To pray for their peers, school, community, state, nation, and much much more.  Would you pause for a moment to lift these teens up in prayer right now?  They need boldness today.  They need the presence of God today.  They need the church supporting them as they are the missionaries on those campuses that we can never be.

There will be many opportunities to share why they met around that flag pole as the day goes on.  May the name of Jesus be lifted high and prayers be answered!

Encourage your students to take their place around the flag pole and join a nation in prayer.

SYATP_THEME_ARTWORK_LORES

Five Steps of Prayer

prayerWhen we pray, the Father aligns us to His heart. We acknowledge our dependence on Him. Prayer is communion and communication. Through the Bible we breathe in God’s words, through prayer we breathe out our response.

Prayer is essential to the Christian life.

Our church is taking a class though Tim Keller’s recent book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. In it we find five helpful steps. At times all we can do simply cry out “Abba” and we must depend on the Spirit to intercede on our behalf. But at other times, we can be more mindful of our prayer life, and these steps can help bring order to this essential area of growth. Why would we not maximize effectiveness and fruit of our prayer time if intentionality is all that is required? Let these steps be a guide to a vibrant relationship with God.

1) Evocation. To evoke means “to bring to mind,” though it also can includeinvocation, calling on God. Keller says that there is almost, “universal agreement that prayer should be started by ‘thinking over who it is that you will be addressing, what he has done to give you access to himself, and how you stand related to him …” Think before you pray.

2) Meditation. To respond to God in prayer, we must listen to his Word. This means taking some time to meditate on some portion of the Bible as a bridge to prayer. Meditation is a form of reflection and self-communion. Take a verse or two, or an entire section, and meditate on it as a way of fueling your heart to prepare you to pray.

3) Word prayer. Keller received this insipiration from Martin Luther. And this is a step that is often overlooked. After meditating on Scripture, Luther takes time to “pray the text” before moving on to more free-form prayer. Luther advises that we take the Lord’s Prayer and paraphrase each petition in his or her own words, filling it out with the concerns on his or her heart that day. Keller advises that we do this at least once a week.

4) Free prayerFree prayer, as Keller explains, means simply to pour out your heart before the Lord in prayer. This is where we bring on all the supplications, petitions, prayer-lists, and anything on our heart that we want or need. This is the kind of prayer that we’re probably most familiar with. Helpful — indeed, God is our Father and we are his children and he loves it when we ask him for things — but J.I. Packer would warn us that this kind of prayer is only life-changing if it is not merely running down a “grocery-list,” but instead lifts each cause to God with theological reasoning and self-examination.

5) Contemplation. Here, Keller points us to Jonathan Edwards who points us to the Lord: “Edwards described contemplation as times when we not only know God is holy, but when we sense — ‘”see’” and ‘”taste’” — that he is so in our hearts. Luther would say that this is like getting “lost” in some aspect of God’s truth or character. Either way, prayer is always enhanced when we end with praise and contemplation.

“Don’t be intimidated by these plans,” Keller adds at the end. He finishes with saying, “Follow the steps … without feeling the need to do all the specific proposals or answer all the questions within each part. Prayer will grow and draw you in.”

Louie Giglio Withdraws His Acceptance to Pray at the Presidential Inauguration

giglioPastor Louis Giglio has removed his prior acceptance of the offer of giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration.

Check out his letter of resignation. It has the typo of 2014, not 2013, but clearly states that he and his ministry don’t want to wade into an embattled issue that is not beneficial to the goals of their ministry.

January 10, 2014 [sic]

I am honored to be invited by the President to give the benediction at the upcoming inaugural on January 21. Though the President and I do not agree on every issue, we have fashioned a friendship around common goals and ideals, most notably, ending slavery in all its forms.

Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.

Neither I, nor our team, feel it best serves the core message and goals we are seeking to accomplish to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing, thus I respectfully withdraw my acceptance of the President’s invitation. I will continue to pray regularly for the President, and urge the nation to do so. I will most certainly pray for him on Inauguration Day.

Our nation is deeply divided and hurting, and more than ever need God’s grace and mercy in our time of need.

The media has breathed a sigh of bitter relief it seems. The Washington Post published this blatantly one-sided and opinionated article titled, Louie Giglio out from Inaugural: Good. Before it was official, Instinct Magazine published an article titled, Worse Than Rick Warren? President Obama Gives Inaugural Benediction To Another Anti-Gay Pastor, that quotes from Giglio’s sermon complete with sub-headings to help guide the rage of the Gay community. Apparently it had its desired effect.

Wow. Talk about stirring up a hornet’s nest.

It is to bad that Giglio felt so much pressure that he needed to withdraw from such an honor. I think it is interesting that in his resignation letter we find no hint of backing down on his former stance. He is exactly right in how he calls the nation to prayer for our leaders, even if a segment of our nation has clamored against his selection. I believe Giglio is sincere in his words and should be commended on how he has handled this unfortunate development.

Keep up the good work Louie, keep making much of Jesus Christ through every platform available to you.

 

A Prayer for America on Election Day

Al Mohler published this article “A Prayer for America on Election Day”. It is ten prayerful points that shine light on the fact that America’s problems are rooted in the spiritual realm, not the physical or governmental.

Here is a brief synopsis of his ten points.(but read his full article, which has a fuller treatment of each point.)

  1. First, we should pray that God will bless America with leaders better than we deserve.
  2. Second, we should pray that Americans will be motivated to fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship, yet also that we will be stripped of an unhealthy and idolatrous confidence in the power of government to save us.
  3. Third, we must pray that Americans will vote by conscience, not merely on the basis of celebrity or emotion.
  4. Fourth, we must pray that Americans will vote to defend the least among us — and especially those who have no vote.
  5. Fifth, we should pray that God will prick the conscience of the nation on issues of morality, righteousness, and respect for marriage as the central institution of human civilization.  There is much work to be done, and so much is at stake.
  6. Sixth, we should pray that God will protect these candidates and their families.
  7. Seventh, we should pray that the election is conducted with honor, civility, respect, and justice. May there be a clear winner, not a contested result.
  8. Eighth, we must pray that Americans will be prepared to accept the results of the election with respect and kindness.
  9. Ninth, we should pray that this election would lead to even greater opportunities to preach the Gospel, and that the freedom of the church will be respected, honored, and protected.
  10. Tenth, we must pray for the church, praying that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ would be strengthened in the truth, grounded in the faith, and empowered for witness and ministry.

Saturdays With C.S. Lewis: Screwtape Refuting Prayer

My dear Wormwood,

But since your patient has contracted the terrible habit of obedience, he will probably continue such ‘crude’ prayers whatever you do. But you can worry him with the haunting suspicion that the practice is absurd and can have no objective result. Don’t forget to use the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ argument. If the thing he prays for doesn’t happen, then that is one more proof that petitionary prayers don’t work; if it does happen, he will, of course, be able to see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and ‘therefore it would have happened anyway’, and thus a granted prayer becomes just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective.

Your affectionate uncle,
SCREWTAPE

C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters (originally 1942; this edition: Harper Collins, 1996) 148.