Prayer Blog

Teachings

Prayer Tips

 

Helpful Prayer Tips

 

Develop a Plan. Don't be overwhelmed. Start slow. Keep things simple at the beginning. Most people get discouraged in prayer because their prayer time has no or little structure. Without a plan, you drift.

 

Pray without ceasing. Praying in the morning in a less than casual way is a doorway to living in an attitude of prayer. Having a time and a place, and a prayer plan are tethers for a life lived with the wind of the Spirit driving our sails.

 

Just Talk to God! Prayer doesn't require the use of 'thee' and 'thous' - nor does it forbid it. However, neither the terms in your vocabulary nor volume or tone of your voice need to change. It might, but even when passion comes to prayer, you should still be you - natural. Naturally spiritual.

 

Take Notes. Expect assignments from God. Without a record of God-encounters, it is too easy to forget moments you have had - answers, impressions, words and promises.

 

Pray about Everything. And keep it simple. In the days of Jesus, the Jewish believers had standard prayers for everything - plowing a field, eating a meal, drinking, a wedding, a funeral - everything.

 

Keep Prayer Happy and Holy. "Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again I say, rejoice!" is the prelude to presenting needs, pulsating painful needs. They must not so overwhelm us to take away our joy. Happy, yet holy.

 

Pray for Provision. Jesus taught us to pray for our "daily bread."

 

Pray for Protection. Never take God's protective care for granted. "Because he has given me his love, I will take him out of danger: I will put him in a place of honor, because he has kept my name in his heart" (Psalms 91:14 BBE).

 

Pray for Direction. Ask God to order your steps. Give God glory! Our whole purpose for being on the earth is to give God glory. Remember - Anybody Can Pray!

 

Partner Praise and Thanksgiving with Prayer. Every need is to be presented with the recollection of God's actions of grace in the past; every appeal for God's intervention is paired with praise that affirms God's ability and character. We enter God's presence with thanksgiving and we exit in praise.

 

Adapted from Greg Qualls, "Spiritual Disciplines - Six Tips for Talking to God." gregqualls.com/tag/bible.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer Evangelism Ideas

 

 

 

The fourth dimension to a local church prayer ministry is prayer evangelism. The energy of prayer needs to be turned outward, toward the community and the world. This is prayer evangelism.

Avenues to heighten prayer evangelism:

  1. Adopt the Moravian principle, "No one works, unless someone prays." Make prayer the essential to every effort. Anything not backed and bathed in prayer is human effort. And human effort alone won't result in divine impact. Have every worker recruit a prayer support team. But limit the number on those teams to three to five individuals. Don't allow prayer team recruitment to degenerate into a competition or popularity contest. Everyone should be praying for the pastor, but other teams should be more specific in focus and limited in size.
  2. Have church members create a list of family and friends, neighbors and work associates who are not practicing a vital relationship with Christ. Ask them to focus on five names. Challenge them to spend just five minutes day, five days a week praying for those five people. After three months, suggest that they reassess the smaller list in view of the larger list. Give them permission to make alterations. Then do the process over.
  3. Celebrate the stories of open hearts, "unpredicted" and divinely orchestrated meetings and unexpected connections, of salvations. Remember, there are no co-incidents! Track the hand of God in response to prayer.
  4. Create a "wailing wall" with the names or pictures of lost loved ones. Keep the fate of souls in front of the congregation.
  5. Develop a neighborhood prayer strategy. Emphasize the "prayer-care-share" process.
  6. Adopt some territory around your church - a block, ten blocks, a square mile, a definitive subdivision, some specific geographic area. Let that be your mission field. Be good neighbors.
  7. Develop a spiritual mapping team. Have them collect data on everything within the determined boundaries. Study crime patterns. Get to know the business owners. Discover potential collaborators, other churches and pastors. Inform key intercessors. Pray for everything that moves in that zone - other churches, businesses, schools, clubs, bars, apartment complexes - everything. Become the change agent in your neighborhood. Put it all on a map. Keep records.
  8. Adopt community leaders for prayer. The city-councilperson or commissioner, school board member, etc.
  9. Pray for schools and fire houses near your church. Find out if there are special police units assigned to your area. Introduce yourself. Offer to pray for them.
  10. Prayer-walk the neighborhood. Not once, but often. Systematically cruise your definitive mission area praying. Watch for changes.
  11. Pray over homes for sale! Connect with new neighbors. Be the Welcome Wagon. Don't pressure, just be a good neighbor.
  12. Monitor changes in the community - new subdivisions, buildings, new businesses.
  13. Do church-wide "care campaigns." Pass out water on a hot day, coffee on a cold day. Set up a prayer tent and give the gift of prayer. Do care projects in the city, but specifically in your mission zone. Give out food baskets to the needy. Look for creative ways to care - beyond the walls of the church.
  14. Evangelism means good news. Make the church a good news institution. Be good news to the poor and the helpless, the hurting and the hopeless, the unloved and the lonely. Be good news in the neighborhood.
  15. Send prayer ambassador teams out to nearby businesses with the message, "We're your neighbors at First Church. We wanted to introduce ourselves. We're praying for you." Jesus called us to be agents of peace in the community.
  16. Focus on some high-crime area in your city. Send prayer mission teams into the area to simply pray there. If safe during the day, prayer-walk the area. Look for measurable changes. Don't be surprised if the darkness growls back at you. If it does, don't run; rather, intensify your efforts. Push through; pray through.
  17. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; and pray for some peace-threatening issue in your city, at least monthly.
  18. Assign prayer teams to specific areas, businesses, issues. Sponsor on-site prayer gatherings of three to five Christians who meet at a given location once a week for 10 to 15 minutes of prayer. Mark the location of these consistent prayer focus teams on your mission map and gather regular reports from them.
  19. Every church needs an identified mission field - one near and one afar. Pick mission fields for which you will regularly pray. Some mission fields are demographic, not geographic. Ask yourself, who can we care for - widows, orphans, single families, the elderly, drug addicts, youth, gangs? Move beyond prayer. Prayer also cares ... and care opens the door for sharing Christ.
  20. If your church is in a stable neighborhood, partner with a church in a depressed and socially challenged area. Help them determine a reasonable target area as a mission field. Stretch your own people beyond their comfort zone. Give the smaller, more challenged church the gift of prayer. Lend intercessory support. Send prayer mission teams. Assist them first with prayer evangelism. Then with care impact strategies. And then equip them to more effectively share the gospel.

 

 

  • This blog is an excerpt from PRAYER - The Heart of It All

 

Read more blogs by P. Douglas Small> P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer's Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization. 

 

 

 

Are we "The Light"?

 

Concern for the City

 

 The priests in the Old Testament were assigned, as were the Levites, to cities. They were required to live there. Priestly ministry was never confined exclusively to the temple. Priests were not to become other worldly. Ray Bakke, sociologist and missiologist, says that twenty-five types of urban ministry can be found in the historical books of the Old Testament, and they were carried on by the priests. They were agents of health care, there to eradicate plagues and to certify cleanliness for the good of all. They were charged with maintaining corporate conditions in the city that made life safe. They were charged with pastoral care. They looked after families. They were educators. Their ministry was no narrow ministry focused only on soul care. Through the priests, prayer and care came together. Their walk with God and their daily interaction with people made them social change advocates and agents. They were in the community, walking the streets, not salt in a salt box!

The average church is completely unaware of the city-social environment around it. In fact, we disconnect the church from the city in stark ways. When Rusty Dotson pastored an inner city church in St. Louis, his facility was at the heart of the city-wide gay festival. Thousands passed by his empty and dark facility. The city was at his doorstep and the church was closed. He decided that if any such opportunity came again, the lights of the church would be on and the doors open. When the festival took place the next year, his church offered free food and drinks. They entered a float in the "gay pride parade." They advertised themselves as the church "that would leave the light on for you." As the float made its way through the animated crowd, church members waved and smiled. Three television stations were covering the parade and it was being syndicated across the nation as well. When Pastor Dotson's float was in front of the reviewing stand and live on television the church van pulling the float caught on fire. The parade was halted. Parade officials were frustrated. There was little for the television anchors to do but talk about "the church that kept the lights on!" They had to ponder the question as to why an evangelical church would participate in a gay pride parade. The answer was both awkward and obvious. It was a message of God's love and grace, a refusal to be excluded.

The harvest around us, passes our empty buildings. In one depressed and drug-infested section of Miami, intercessors discovered fourteen church buildings. Only two had any activity at all Monday through Saturday. One had an office open a few days a week to serve the needs of its members. The church had a base for ministry in a need saturated area, but it was unengaged. Most telling was the discovery that drug dealers preferred the parking lots and alcoves of the abandoned church buildings for drug deals. The absence of light gave place to the darkness.

Cities lead nations! They have a 'prophetic' quality about them. We see the city as bricks and mortar, asphalt and concrete pathways. In truth, every city is spiritually alive with a unique personality and purpose. The Biblical idea of 'nation' is not primarily a geographically bounded region, but a distinctive 'people group - an ethnic and kinship network.' We have not finished our obligation to heaven until we are praying for every tongue and tribe, every kinship group - then in love, making of them disciples.

P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer's Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

 

Is God Dead?

 

 

Is God Dead?

 

On Good Friday, April 8, 1966, an issue of Time magazine shook the nation. The cover was black with bold red letters as if written in blood, asking "Is God Dead?" In the next six months, almost thirty additional periodicals weighed in on the issue - the nation was abuzz in a discussion about the alleged death of God. Evangelicals and conservatives reacted strongly.

In 2005, forty years later, Time editors picked the most impactful covers of the four previous decades - the April 8th, "Is God Dead?" cover was among the top ten. The 1960's "God is dead" movement was an echo of the words uttered by Friedrich Nietzsche a century before. It is easy to be dismissive and respond with bumper sticker theology, "God's not dead; I just talked to Him this morning!" Still, we may have missed an important note. 'God is dead' to us when He is ignored by our obsession with this world and given only superficial notice, only lip service. We may protest Nietzsche's declaration, 'God is not dead!' However, lives lived by fleeting prayers that reflect self-interested wishes treat God as dead. Failing to take Him seriously, in a deep and profound manner, out of a serious devotional life - He is dead through us to our world.[1] We are a nation of superficial faith and pews full of what Martin E. Marty calls 'practical atheists'.[2] Erich Fromm charged that we "are now dead with a kind of death that is not easily resurrected."[3] Nietzsche said poetically, the 'long shadow' of God was all that lingered. Thus, God is not so easily dismissed. Pronounce Him dead, have His funeral, but He lives on - and His shadow remains. It is with this 'shadow' that our culture now struggles. Having legally rejected our founding faith, the idea of God lingers, and for some, it is like a cultural hangover. For others, He is a ghost - one that is far too real. Against this 'ghost' of our cultural past, there is a veritable war - to silence public prayers, to remove from our vision public crosses, to ban the use of the name of Jesus - to remove the shadow.

 

'God is dead', and He must remain dead - it is the continued crusade of Nietzsche-like followers who, like him, know that humanism can only blossom in the absence of a shared social, cultural faith. Most amazing of all is the silence of believers themselves, who live as practical atheists, without prayerfully considering God each day at dawn, without intentionally inviting His participation into their lives. There will be little hope for the nation if the church, if Christians continue to live without an integrated sense of God's Presence. Without living as missionaries, and getting beyond self-interests, there is no hope that the unredeemed will lead the way to awakening.

Most Christians see faith as a moral philosophy, a set of rules or principles, a guide for private morality, as something almost mystical, shrouded in nostalgia, or something inside them, like a pietistic component of their personality. That reduces God to a moral or intellectual principle, not a dynamic, unpredictable person. Ours is a living God. He is not a list of moral imperatives, not a standard for justice and empathy. Moreover, to live the Christian life is to live out of the center of God's life, not church-life, but divine life. It is not the integration of God into our lives, of faith and biblical concepts into our head and heart; it is the integration of our life into God's life. It is not His joining us on our journey; it is our taking our cross to follow Him in His post-resurrection mission; and doing so out of a life of dependent prayerfulness.

In Nietzsche's book, The Gay Science, a lunatic lights a lantern in the brightness of the daylight and lunges into the crowed marketplace screaming, "I seek God! I seek God!" He is met with derision and scorn. The crowd turns on him, "Is He [God] lost? Did He lose His way like a child? Is He hiding? Is He afraid of us?" The questions come from different voices, one on top of the other. There is laughter. The searcher is not taken seriously and so he turns on the crowd,

'God is dead, I tell you, we have killed Him - you and I. All of us are His murderers.' But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives : who will wipe this blood off us?

Of course, he is right. God came, in Christ, and the whole world conspired to kill Him, to crucify Him - and we all, sinners all, are culpable. However, the greater tragedy is that the crucifixion of Christ continues. Today He is rejected again, not only by men, but also by movements and corporations, by cities and nations. Moreover, as it was then, the witnesses, who know better, who know who He is, we, the disciples, are silent again.

Every prayer, every bowed head - is a declaration of faith in the existence of God. Every whispered prayer, every searching heart, every upward gaze, every silent moment before the wonder of some inspiration of creation is a soul longing to connect with God. We call that prayer! Prayer is instinctive - we do it naturally. Yet, deep prayer, transforming prayer, demands a certain cultivation. Against that kind of prayer, there is a war. It is a war fought from the inside of each of us - the resistance of the flesh. It is a war fought by hell itself. It is a war fought by the world around us. Sadly, prayer is losing. As a result, we are losing as well.

 [1]       Ronald Rolheiser, The Shattered Lantern (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2015), 18.

[2]       Martin E. Marty, "Practical Atheism: Atheism in America"; December 12, 2011; divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/atheism-america-%E2%80%94-martin-e-marty.

[3]       Calvin Miller, The Vanishing Evangelical: Saving the Church from Its Own Success by Restoring What Really Matters (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI; 2013), 57.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachings by Rev. Arlo Johnson - 6

 

IS ANYONE AMONG US, WITHOUT ERROR?  In my last writing about prayer for our Prime Minister, his Cabinet and Government, I referred to it as the sixth writing, actually it was the fifth writing, and this is the sixth writing!  So you know the answer to my lead-off question! 

 

That which I want to write today about my recent thoughts about our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, could not be said any better than the following words and pictures found on “Context with Lorna Dueck,” so I will forward a copy of the words and pictures as presented by Lorna Dueck.  Needless to say, we are called upon by God to pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”  Amen!?

 

 

 

May 20, 2016  Lorna Dueck

 

The Prime Minister sat in bed and read the Bible after his scandalous charge across the House of Commons floor to manhandle people he disagreed with.  Bibles are good at a time like that.   Bibles are filled with human emotion, character flaws, violence and stupidity.  Bibles also hold advice for comfort, with words that are poignantly honest that recovery equals consequences.   Ideals once shattered, always move to a plan B.     

 

In what could be argued as divine timing, the morning after Wednesday evening’s rough scene, Mr. Trudeau was scheduled to read Scripture at the Parliamentary Prayer breakfast, and to speak about his own spiritual journey.   In the privacy of his home, Mr. Trudeau reflected on Psalm 130, the assigned Old Testament passage for the leadership reading;  “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”  However former politician, Jack Murta, who was in close touch with Mr. Trudeau, and who oversees Parliament’s national and weekly non partisan prayer breakfasts, said Mr. Trudeau then found his way to Romans 12.   So it was that when Justin Trudeau, the first sitting Prime Minister in memory to address the National Prayer Breakfast rose, Romans 12 was all he had to say.  No statements or banter about his spiritual life, just a simple reading of biblical text to a crowd of 1000 Christian friendly folk; 

 

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you …. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud….” 

 

You could have heard a pin drop in the National Prayer Breakfast while the Prime Minister read his selection and then sat down.  

As an MP, Mr. Trudeau has read Scripture before at these events, in the past he did so with dramatic flair; not so this time.  Then in another scheduling irony, prayer breakfast officials claim they forgot that Mr. Trudeau was to be ushered out before the agenda moved into the sermon.   Rather, the PM sat and listened, as Jonathon Aitken, a former British MP who served 18 months in jail for perjury explain that it can be our mistakes that define us better than our successes.   “The spiritual milestones that are effective are as relevant to prisoners as they are to politicians,” said Mr. Aitken.  Pain is the humbling tool that brings a person into prayer and repentance, said Mr. Aitken, as he spoke on the thought and discipline needed for an honest search toward God’s salvation.  

 

As Mr. Aitken ended, the Prime Minister’s entourage ushered him away from press and public.  Security had allowed Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader and outspoken Christian, to be waiting for the PM in the elevator, they hugged, spoke and she assured him of her prayers. 

 

This was the 51st Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, a public, ticketed event that is an annual reminder in our country of Christian love and action in politics.  I’ve been to a few of these breakfasts; they are usually predictable and ceremonial.  Good folk, reminding each other of the right way to live.  This one was different.   We all left being reminded, that do overs are needed, and that the health of the inner soul is a deeply personal work that has public effect. 

 

Comments Thanks Lorna, for this extra detail. Thanks for doing the reporting that most of our mainstream media neglect, or self-censor. If I might make a suggestion, following the example of other media in the past few years, might it not be time to remove the Comments section? People are too quick to vent; or, on the other hand while it may be considered undemocratic to do some severe editing, rather than ban comments outright, it might encourage us to put our best word, not our first word, up for the world to see.                                       May 27, 2016 | Duff Crerar 

 

Teachings by Rev. Arlo Johnson - 5

 

This is the fifth call to corporate prayer on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his cabinet and government within the nation of Canada.  If you haven’t received three previous e-mails concerning this matter----feel free to request any previous copy of e-mails 1 to 5.

 

This call to prayer is in obedience to the Words of the Apostle Paul as written in First Timothy 2:1-2, “ ... then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone----for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”  Romans 13:1 gives us the foundational requirement for such prayer: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established ... ” 

 

This fifth call to corporate prayer for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comes from my heart with a very real sense of urgency.  The urgency which grips my heart, and burdens me to pray for him at this time is based upon two specific things that have, or will have taken place in his life within a twenty-four hour period of time.  That twenty-four hour period of time began in the Parliament of Canada on Wednesday, May 18, and will conclude on Thursday, May 19 with the National Prayer Breakfast conducted in The Westin Ottawa Hotel 7:15-9:30 am. 

 

In writing of, “two specific things that have, or will have taken place in the life of our Prime Minister,”     I am referring to:  

1. The inappropriate fiasco that occurred in the midst of the Parliament in Session on May 18---the evening CBC News reported the inappropriate physical contact that took place between the Prime Minister and certain members of the Opposition parties.  Regardless of the inappropriate actions of the Prime Minister, we must not be judgmental, but be sensitive to his personal needs at this time, and then prayer accordingly! 

2.  The guest speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast is scheduled to be Jonathan Aitken: Born in 1942, he served as a Conservative Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom for 24 years, and a former British Government Cabinet minister.  He was convicted of perjury in 1999 and received an 18-month prison sentence.  It was during his imprisonment that he was converted to Christ as Savior and Lord. 

 

It is probable that most of the 100 plus that read the above information will do so after the National Prayer Breakfast has concluded----whether you read it before or after the fact, your prayers will be ongoing, and effective for those who were present to receive the witness and testimony of Jonathan Aitken.  So please pray that the testimony of the speaker will speak into the heart of our Prime Minister, along with the Word of God that is in the his heart from the teachings of the Alpha course (detailed in the fifth writing).

 

Please remember that there will be a satanic magnification of the Prime Minister’s wrong doing, within his own mind, and that magnification will lead to self-condemnation and despair within himself---maybe even depression!  We must pray that the testimony of the National Prayer Breakfast guest will reveal to our Prime Minister, that God can turn the bad we do into that which becomes good (Romans 8:28).  Whether you pray about this before or after the Prayer Breakfast event---just pray!  With God, there is no before or after---God works in the eternal now!  Let me illustrate this from the story, “SEND US A HOT WATER BOTTLE THIS AFTERNOON, LORD.”  In a Congo Hospital without electricity, and without a baby Incubator---At mid-morning, a ten year old child prayed for the afternoon delivery of a hot water bottle to save the life of a new born premature baby---by mid-afternoon, a parcel arrived at the doctor’s home with a hot water bottle in it---that parcel had been mailed to the doctor’s Congo address by Christians in England, five months prior---I don’t understand God’s eternal now, but I believe in it! Pray!

 

The Case for Corporate Prayer

 

 

 

The Case for Corporate Prayer

 

 

One Sunday afternoon in London, five college students went to the Tabernacle to hear the famed Charles Spurgeon preach. They waited outside the locked doors of the church, and a man asked if they wanted a tour. "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" It wasn't a terrible inviting proposition, it was a hot July day. Intrigued, they consented. They were led inside, and down a stairway. "This is our heating plant." As the door opened, their eyes fell on some 700 people in prayer, seeking God for a blessing on the service that would soon begin in the sanctuary above. The 'tour guide' softly closed the door, and introduced himself - as Charles Spurgeon.[1]

Prayer is prayer, but not all prayer is the same. Thanksgiving and praise, communion with petition and intercession, are the fundamental components of prayer (1 Timothy 2:1). All of these are appropriate in either a private or a corporate setting; however, the context changes the dynamic. There is a difference between personal, private, devotional prayer and public, corporate prayer. This is true whether or not there is a formal liturgy and its symbols, as in the case of most evangelical, non-liturgical churches. Further, being in the same room praying does not itself constitute corporate prayer. A dozen or a hundred, a thousand, can be together, praying - all separately, all independently, all in isolated individualism, privatizing their relationship with God. A hundred different methods of prayer are boiled down to these two essential categories - liturgical prayer, the public prayer of the church, and private or devotional prayer.[2]

John R. Mott argued, "If added power attends the united prayer of two or three, what mighty triumphs there will be when hundreds of thousands of consistent members of the Church are with one accord day by day making intercession for the extension of Christ's Kingdom."[3] J. B. Johnston in his classic work, The Prayer Meeting and Its History, believed, "God has appointed prayer as His way of dispensing, and our way of obtaining all promised good" and by that, he meant specifically, the prayer meeting, corporate prayer. "History confirms the truth that wherever evangelical and vital religion flourish, there lives the earnest gatherings for social prayer."[4]

"Liturgical, public prayer might more aptly be called priestly prayer, while private and devotional prayer might better be termed affective prayer."[5] That does not deny a personal, private priestly element to prayer. Rather, it differentiates. The church-corporate is more appropriately representative as standing before God as a body, not as one member. It is the bride, a corporate entity, joining the bridegroom Christ in prayer. It is out of and in the spirit of His priestly prayer, John 17, that we be one and fulfill His mission. It is our praying with Him as a kingdom of priests, for the world. Affective prayer is our prayer; private prayer, done by ourselves or with others, within which we ask God from the depth of our own private faith to bless others and ourselves. Again, this does not mean that affective prayer is excluded from the corporate, but that it takes place most effectively, when the individual is alone with God.[6]

Corporate prayer is the church gathered, in some form, whole or part, to meet with God. Chrysostom would assert, "What we cannot obtain by solitary prayer we may by social... because where our individual strength fails, there union and concord are effectual."[7] Johnston declared, "The prayer meeting is the rallying point where the power of faith in the church concentrates, and takes hold on the arm that moves the world."[8]

The church, by its very nature and constitution, is instrumental, priestly. It is the agency of God for kingdom purposes. It does not, it must not, exist for itself - though in the current western world, it often does. If its prayer energy and focus is self-serving, it is narcissistic, sick with disease of the world. That renders it dysfunctional and ineffective, perhaps sterile and lifeless. The goal of corporate prayer is that the Church, the bride of Christ, will join Christ in prayer, the two praying together, in order that the bride is both informed and empowered to complete her mission in behalf of Christ. In prayer, the church gathered, steps into the purposes of God. The great prayer is the one prayed, not by us, but by Christ. "It is the prayer of Christ through the church for the world. Our Christian belief is that Christ is still gathering us together around His Word and is still offering an eternal act of love for the world."[9] We join Christ in prayer. We become the fulfillment, the answer, to His prayer. In such a moment, we have corporately stepped into the 'Office of the Church' and we tap the authority of His name, His kingdom. The priestly prayer of the church gathered, out of the 'Office of the Church' is not for itself, except in relationship to its mission. It is prayer for the world!

Personal prayer is different. We cannot pray from the Office of the Church. We can join Christ in prayer as an individual, privately, personally. Our focus is personal communion and out of that, edification, direction for our personal lives. Here, meditation is championed. Here, we linger over an open Bible, allowing God to speak to us personally about choices and matters that affect our personal lives. Here, our goal is the cultivation of deeper communion with God. When such people come together collectively, the strength of these Christians, who privately wait before God daily, has an impact on the depth of corporate prayer as well as the reach of the Church itself and its mission. A tree does not dare spread out its branches unless its roots go deep.

Never ask corporate prayer to do what only private moments of prayer will do; and never expect private prayer to compensate or substitute for the power and authority of a corporate prayer gathering. These two - personal, daily, to-be-like-Jesus praying, and the church gathered are the two big cogs that drive the prayer process. Nothing is bigger than these two. Neither can replace the other. A gathering of sincere intercessors, a small group, is not the same as the congregation gathered with the pastor to seek God. Those from more liturgical traditions emphasize corporate prayer - priestly prayer. Those from evangelical-Pentecostal backgrounds emphasize personal prayer, private prayer. Among evangelicals and Pentecostals, even in the context of the church gathered, the idea of 'praying together,' of 'praying the same prayer,' of praying out of the Office and Authority of the Church is not often understood or embraced. The individual is considered to have as much power as the corporate Church and we site a long list of Biblical references, all without realizing, that we are jaded by the hyper-individualism of a culture that privatizes and individuates everything. The church must come to God on its knees - and do so together.

[1]       Charles Spurgeon. Source: www.prayermeetings.org/Quotes_on_Corporate_Prayer.html.

[2]       Rolheiser, Ronald (2014-03-11). Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity (p. 176). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[3]       John R. Mott. Source: www.prayermeetings.org/Quotes_on_Corporate_Prayer.html.

[4]       J. B. Johnston, The Prayer Meeting and Its History. Source: www.prayermeetings.org/Quotes_on_Corporate_Prayer.html.

[5]       Rolheiser, Sacred Fire, 176. Kindle Edition.

[6]       Ibid, 177.

[7]       Chrysostom. Source: www.prayermeetings.org/Quotes_on_Corporate_Prayer.html.

[8]       J. B. Johnston, The Prayer Meeting and Its History, Source: www.prayermeetings.org/Quotes_on_Corporate_Prayer.html.

[9]       Ronald Rolheiser, Our One Great Act of Fidelity (New York: Doubleday Religion, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, 2011), 88.

 

Read more blogs by P. Douglas Small>

The Four Streams of Prayer

From the Blog of P. Douglas Small:

 

 

       

 

Four Prayer Streams

 

We have been discussing the importance of a disciplined personal prayer life. Yet, there are four prayer streams in the life of the people of God that are critical.

  1. The congregation gathered in and for prayer. Not preaching. Not teaching or training, but in prayer.
  2. Smaller prayer groups. Not the entire congregation gathered, but slices of church life gathered for prayer. For example, at the heart of every ministry and group in the congregation, there should be a developing prayer culture. To isolate prayer by framing it as 'prayer ministry' and placing it there; having youth and children, men and women, singles and seniors, a dozen other ministries here, all undergirded by the prayer ministry there - is fatal error. To assign prayer to a few, even a significant but detached team is to attempt to use prayer as a kind of engine for church ministries, and yet, separate from them. That makes prayer pragmatic, utilitarian, and that is a flawed equation. Every ministry, to be New Testament, is to be humbly dependent on God in prayer. At their heart, must be a culture of God's Presence, of holiness and humility and that necessitates prayer. The goal is to press prayer into the seams of congregational life. If church activities and ministries are to be animated by the breath of God, they must be praying ministries - the Spirit is breath and prayer is breathing.
  3. The family altar. Currently, only 5 to 8 percent of Christian homes have anything resembling a family altar. That must change. If prayer is foreign to daily life, we declare to ourselves and our children, that we have learned to live without family gatherings in which God is at the center of our lives and activities, our daily relationships, in a formal and openly affirming manner. God must not be ignored. Our children, having learned from us to live without engaging God in an intentional manner six days a week, soon forego the seventh - not continuing church attendance as adults. Tozer bluntly declared, "If you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week."[1]
  4. Personal prayer. Daily prayer. Relentless praying. John and Charles Wesley, when traveling together, had the habit of rising early to spend time with God, and then meeting together, often for an hour or more, before they began their day. Spurgeon would rise early for personal prayer, and then gather his family for prayer before they met the day.

Without personal prayer, without family altars, without small groups in which we are all active in prayer, the corporate prayer gathering lacks the roots that cause it to flourish. Yet, without the corporate prayer meeting, that models prayer, that offers teaching prayer experiences that become templates for personal, family and small group praying, the other corollary elements  don't develop. Each feeds the other, and none can replace another. They are interdependent. The most conspicuous of the four is the corporate prayer meeting, the congregation gathered for prayer. Without these, church is a ceremony, not a celebration of lives lived out God's Presence.

 

Welsh pastor, Geoffrey Thomas, asserted, "There is no way that those who neglect secret worship can know communion with God in the public services of the Lord's Day!"[2] D. A. Carson notes, "The person who prays more in public reveals that he is less interested in God's approval than in human praise. Not piety but a reputation for piety is his concern."[3]

We are not to go to church to worship, but to go worshipping - out of a life of worship. The form of corporate worship feeds the informal - confession, praise, offering, preaching, prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, repenting, professing, singing, sharing, the bread and the cup, baptism, the blessing. All these feed the personal, informal daily prayer times; and they in turn, feed the public.

 

[1]       Tozer.

[2]       Geoffrey Thomas, "Worship in Spirit," The Banner of Truth, August-September, 1987, p. 8.

[3]       D. A. Carson, Matthew, Expositor's Bible Commentary, 12 volumes (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 8:165.

 

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Teachings by Rev. Arlo Johnson - 4

 

This is the fourth call to corporate prayer on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his cabinet and government within the nation of Canada.  If you haven’t received three previous e-mails concerning this matter----feel free to request any previous copy of e-mails 1 to 3.

 

There are three major things facing our nation as presented by our present Federal Government: 

        1. A greatly increased national debt, beginning with a Thirty Billion Dollar debt during the first year of this newly elected government, with the possibility of that debt mushrooming to One Hundred and Twenty Billion dollars during their first mandate period.   

        2. The possible legalization of marijuana and its undesirable fall out.   

        3. The legislation of “Doctor Assisted Suicide” that could become law within our nation.

 

The purpose of God within the Christian Church of Canada, during these difficult and immoral times:         

1. God’s people are not to speak negatively or critically of the Prime Minister, his cabinet or government, but we must look upon these inappropriate and evil things with deepening concern as citizens of Canada.     

2. We are to pray for our governmental leaders as those placed by God in national leadership; at the same time we should pray against any thing that we believe is contrary to God’s standard of righteousness.            1 Timothy 2:1-4. 

In Matthew 24:4-7 in addition to those things that are inappropriate and evil, we must be aware of the warnings of Jesus about the current phenomenal physical tragedies like war, famines, pestilences (which are infectious diseases and their destructive ravages), and earthquakes.

Note: The rapid increase of earthquakes: WE MUST PRAY ABOUT THESE CRISIS EVENTS

 

DATES FROM & TO      PERIOD            NO. EARTHQUAKES (Mag. > 6.99)   

1863 to 1900 incl            38 yrs                   12

1901 to 1938 incl            38 yrs                   53                                                                     

1939 to 1976 incl            38 yrs                   71                                                                    

1977 to 2011 incl *          35 yrs                 164 (to Mar. 2011) predict >190 in total to 2014*.           

On the backdrop of such persevering prayer---WE MUST PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS!                     

In 1977 the ALPHA COURSE was developed in the Anglican congregation of Holy Trinity Brompton in London, England to present this evangelistic study to introduce people to the Christian Faith.  In the process of time Alpha began to be used in Christian Churches in 169 countries, in 112 languages, with over 27 million people having taken the study as of 2015 in churches of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, British New Church movement, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, as well as a host of independent churches.  On November 13, 1998---The youngest brother of Justin Trudeau, Michel Trudeau was swept by an avalanche into the Kokanee Lake in British Columbia.  This was a tragic event that brought great sorrow to the Trudeau family.   It was following this sad event that a friend of Justin Trudeau’s invited him to attend an ALPHA STUDY CHORUS.  As a result of his attendance at that Alpha course, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ was planted in the mind of our present Prime Minister.  With that thought in mind, would you read and meditate on Isaiah 55:6-11.  Note the concluding verse of this passage: “So shall my word go forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing to which I send it.”  PRAY THIS PROMISE INTO BEING for JUSTIN TRUDEAU!               

The following is a historic example of the power of prayer as stated in James 5:16-18:.

From the writings of “100 Amazing Answers to Pray” by J. and R. Petersen.  “What Happens When We Pray”  

Prodigy, professor, playboy, politician----and the most influential Christian since the apostle Paul.  Few names in Christianity’s two-thousand-year history shine brighter than that of AUGUSTINE.  Both Catholics and Protestants revere him.  In the Roman church, the Augustinian order takes its name from him.  Among the Protestant reformers, both Luther and Calvin regarded his writings second only to the Bible.  Yet one may wonder where Augustine would have ended up had it not been for the prayers of his mother, Monica. 

Born in A.D. 354 in the little town of Tagaste, North Africa, Augustine was sent to Carthage to complete his education.  In Carthage, he was recognized as a young man of genius and of strong passions.  The latter led him into sensual excesses and a promiscuous lifestyle.  His intellectual pride carried him into the heresy of the Manicheans and later into academic skepticism.  Augustine lived with a woman he never married, and they had a child together.  His mother, a devoted Christian, was heartbroken.  

When Augustine skipped town and headed for Rome, it must have seemed that Monica’s prayers for her son would never be answered.  Rome in the fourth century was known for its paganism and eroticism.  It was the last place that Monica wanted her son to go---but she didn’t give up hope.  In his classic auto-biography, “Confessions,” Augustine recalled, “My mother, weeping . . . for me, more than mothers weep the bodily deaths of their children.  And he could remember her prayers for him!  

Augustine went on to write: “Almost nine years passed, in which I wallowed in the mire of that deep pit and the darkness of falsehood, often trying to rise, but dashed down the more grievously.  All that time, that chaste, godly and sober widow . . . did not stop pleading for me.”  His mother asked a bishop to argue with her son, but the bishop saw that Augustine was too opinionated to be won in that way.  So he said to Monica, “Let him alone awhile, only pray to God for him.  He will of himself, by reading, find out what that error is, and how great its impiety.”  

In Rome Augustine taught rhetoric, but soon he moved to Milan to take a better position.  There he became a personal friend of Ambrose, bishop of Milan.  Influenced by Ambrose’s preaching and the reading of Scripture, he was finally converted.  He wrote later that when he told his mother the news, “she leaped for joy and triumph, and blessed You, who are able to do more than we ask or think.” 

On Easter Sunday, A.D. 387, in the great Milan Cathedral, Augustine was baptized by Ambrose as Monica watched with tears rolling down her cheeks.  “It was owing to the faithful and daily prayers of my mother that I did not perish,” Augustine noted!

 Later, as Augustine was accompanying his mother back to North Africa, she became ill.  She told him, “Son, for my own part I have no further delight in anything in this life . . . My hopes in this life are accomplished.  One thing there was, for which I desired to linger in this life, that I might see you become a Christian before I died.  My God has done this abundantly for me, that I should now see you become his servant.”  

Augustine went on to become the church’s leading theologian, defender of the faith, preacher, and writer.  Christians have much for which to thank Augustine.  Perhaps we should thank Monica even more!  

I  PRAY THAT EACH OF YOU MIGHT HAVE AN EVER INCREASING FAITH IN GOD!  AMEN!  

 

Teachings by Rev. Arlo Johnson - 3

 

Our World Needs Righteous People awakened to effective, fervent prayer in these Troubled Times!

 

This is the third writing in a long series of challenges to fulfill the words of God written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1-6 states, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”                                                                                                                       

 

WE ARE TO PRAY (with urgency and perseverance) FOR THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE GOVERNMENT!    Arlo A. Johnson

 

STOP THE PRESS: As you receive this e-mail, our Prime Minister and his Cabinet are meeting in a resort just west of Calgary.  On the Sunday evening news it was reported that during this three day Cabinet Meeting (Sunday to Tuesday, April 24-27, 2016) consideration would be specifically given to THE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA and DOCTOR ASSISTED SUICIDE.  Pray for this consideration with a sense of Divine urgency!

 

Modern version of theHIPPOCRATIC OATH  (Note the underlined words below)     I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:                                                           

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.  I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.  (My dictionary gives a three-fold meaning of the word---too wordy to record here).  I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.  I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.  I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death   Above all, I must not play as God.   I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.  I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.  I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.  If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter.  May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

 

Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.

It is shocking to know that the Government of Canada will lead a Parliamentary discussion on Assisted Suicide!?  What happened to the requirement of the Medical Doctors promise to fulfill  THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH? 

Don Martin in the news program, POWER PLAY pointed out the conflict between “Doctors Assisted Suicide” and the millions of Tax Payers dollars being spent to prevent suicide among those of the Native Culture?  Surely this is a position of conflict?

Gerrit Apperloo, a pastor friend of mine, wrote: In our present day society in Canada, a blue ribbon panel made recommendations regarding doctor assisted suicide.  One of the many recommendations was to allow anyone who was depressed and in pain (including emotional and mental pain) to be given the choice (and in some cases the encouragement) to seek doctor assisted suicide.  The proposal was to include even mature young people.  (This was not included in the proposed legislation but certain senators are proposing to change the legislation to include this.)  At the same time, the government and society is spending millions of dollars to address the suicide of young people in Attawapiskat – BUT IF THESE SAME YOUNG PEOPLE SOUGHT THE ASSISTANCE OF A DOCTOR TO END THEIR PAIN IT WOULD BE TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE!

 

Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy:  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”  John 10:10-11. 

 

The fruit, “Doctor Assisted Suicide,” leads to death by the thief; but Jesus the good shepherd desires to produce life, more abundantly!  Our prayers of intercession must stand against death, so that life, more abundant might prevail over death! 

 

From the book, “100 Amazing Answers to Prayer,” is our third story: THE HEALING JUDGE.   All day long, Judge Kermit Bradford of Atlanta, Georgia, heard cases in his courtroom.  He tried to do his part for truth and justice, but he soon learned that some folks needed help beyond anything he’d learned in law school.  Some people just needed prayer! 

 

Judge Bradford became known as a man of prayer.  People noticed that God answered his requests, again and again. He never sought publicity, but still the word got out: When all else fails, go to Judge Bradford. 

 

A woman from Waycross, Georgia, did just that.  She phoned him one morning as he was about to enter the courtroom.  “Judge, I have a little child that’s dying from a brain tumor, and a lady here in town told me that you pray for people.  I’m on my way to Atlanta to Eggleston Hospital to have them operate on my child’s brain.  Is there any way I can see you before I go?”  

 

The Judge had a busy day ahead, but he made an instant decision.  “Yes,” he replied.  Bring the baby down to the courthouse as soon as you can, so we can pray.”  She arrived with her eighteen-month-old daughter “hanging over her shoulder like a sack of salt,” Bradford noted.  The baby’s face was almost a sickly green, and its head was enlarged.  The mother hurriedly explained that her baby had already been operated on twice, and the doctor had told her a third operation could mean death. 

 

The judge explained to her that God is a healer, and sometimes he chooses to heal through people.  When interviewed later, Bradford recalled, “I laid my hands on the little child’s head and prayed that God would release her from this.” 

 

After the woman left, the judge mounted the bench and called his court to order, almost forgetting about the sick baby.  The next morning, the judge’s telephone rang.  The young mother was calling with a report on what had happened with her baby. 

 

“We raced down to the hospital,” she said.  “When the doctor saw that my daughter was near death, they rushed her to the operating room.  I waited, of course, to get a report.  An hour passed, two hours, and three hours passed; I was pacing the floor.” 

 

The mother was worrying that something terrible must have happened----maybe the girl had died in the operating room.  Then the doctor appeared, still wearing his mask and scrubs. “Don’t tell me she’s dead, doctor!”  “No,” the doctor assured her.  “She is not dead.”  He explained how they had examined her for three hours.  They had taken the previous X rays showing the mass on her brain, and then they made another X ray.  The mass wasn’t there.  It had vanished.  Thinking they had made an error, the doctors sent the baby back for yet another X ray, which also seemed to be in error.  Finally they had three X rays in front of them.  Even a spinal tap showed nothing to be wrong.  Then the entire medical staff gathered to tap the child from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. 

 

The doctor continued, “For three hours we’ve been trying to work on her before we go into her brain.  But the mass is gone, and her head has begun to shrink down from a water head to normal.  We don’t know what has happened. All we know is that she has been healed.” 

 

The doctor asked to have the baby brought back in four months for a checkup.  Over the next four years, the mother brought the child in for a checkup every four months.  The child remained healed. 

 

By the way, the child’s father was editor of the Waycross, Georgia, newspaper.  He featured the miraculous answer to prayer in large type on the front page:  Judge Prays for Daughter and She is Healed in His Chambers!  

 

May I challenge you to pray with urgency and perseverance:

 

“May God answer our prayers in such a way over the next year that righteousness might be restored to our government and to our nation!  Can you believe, with all those receiving these faith building stories, for a miraculous change in the practices of our parliamentary members, as well as in the practices of the judges in the courthouses of our nation?”