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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

From Justin Taylor:

Here’s a PDF of Edmund Clowney’s classic 39-page essay, A Biblical Theology of Prayer, courtesy of Beginning with Moses. It was originally published in Teach Us to Pray: Prayer in the Bible and the World, ed. D. A. Carson (Baker/Paternoster, 1990), 136-76, 336-38. (HT: TGC)

Below is an outline of Clowney’s essay:

I. PRAYER ADDRESSES THE PERSONAL GOD

A. God’s glory is personally revealed

1. In his works

2. In his name

3. In his presence

B. The response of prayer is personal

1. Prayer by persons in God’s image

2. Prayer by the whole person

C. The response of prayer is effective

II. PRAYER ADDRESSES THE COVENANT GOD

A. Prayer in the bond of the covenant relation

1. Prayer is grounded in God’s covenant

2. Prayer pleads the covenant relation

3. Prayer and the ceremonies of covenant worship

4. Prayer in the community of the covenant

B. God’s covenant Lordship shapes prayer

1. God’s zeal for pure worship

2. Our zeal for our Lord

a. Expressed in submission to his will

b. Expressed in confession seeking forgiveness

c. Petitions

d. Thanksgiving, praise, and hope

C. The renewal of the covenant restores and renews prayer

III. PRAYER ADDRESSES THE TRIUNE GOD

A. The renewal and fulfillment of prayer in Christ

1. Fulfillment of the petition of the faithful remnant

2. Fulfillment in Christ transforms prayer

a. Christ comes as Lord to receive prayer

b. Christ comes as Servant to offer prayer

3. Christ’s teaching renews prayer

a. Prayer to the Father

b. The prayer of trust

c. Prayer in the name of Jesus

4. Christ the Mediator of Prayer

a. The Mediator foreshadowed

b. His mediatorial office

c. His mediatorial sacrificed.

d. His mediatorial ministry

B. Prayer in the Spirit

1. The presence of the Spirit

2. The gifts of the Spirit

3. Union with Christ in the Spirit

C. Prayer to the Father

1. Prayer to the First Person of the Trinity

2. Prayer to the Father in the Son through the Spirit

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This is what you should expect from your leaders at Christ Church (elders, deacons, staff, community group leaders):

  • That they see their leadership as part of who they are in Jesus, not simply a job that can be set aside or treated lightly;
  • That they serve – not out of duty but delight (Hebrews 13:17)

This is what you should expect from us – so pray that God would make this true for each of us who lead.

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We’re wrapping up our series on prayer this Sunday – thought these resources would be helpful as we wind things down:

John Piper gives some advice on how to deepen your desire to pray – read or watch.

Tim Challies reminds us that we need to pray for our praying.

Tom Rainer points out that without prayer there is no power in our church.

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I’m getting ready to pack up the car and drive from the sandy shores of Orange Beach, Alabama and drive Lindsey and the boys up to Birmingham for a week with our families. This has been a fun week but we miss you and y’all have been in my prayers. Here’s the text of an email that I sent out to some of our leaders this morning:

My prayer this morning has been that Christ Community Church would be a people and a place that is filled by the Spirit. Tim Keller points out what this looks like from Acts 1:

  • A renewed church is vision-driven (Acts 1:6-8). Our vision is that we – through our words – will bring people under the kingship of Christ which will heal and repair all things.
  • A renewed church is gospel-driven (Acts 1:9-11). Community and mission are the works of the Spirit who takes the truth of the gospel and sets it on fire in our souls, granting us deep assurance of God’s love for us and freeing us to love other people.
  • A renewed church is prayer-driven (Acts 1:14). It is only in prayer and through prayer that the Holy Spirit takes up the vision and the gospel and makes them fiery realities in the center of our being.
  • A renewed church is leader-driven (Acts 1:15-22). Personal and corporate revivals occur through leaders which God identifies and equips.

What does this mean for us as individuals?

  • Prepare for life as a missionary ambassador. Being on mission is another of talking about a life that represents the heart, mind, and life of Christ to the world around us. We need to take notice of those areas of life that fail in such a representation. What one practical step can I take this week in the direction of obedience?
  • Preach the gospel to yourself. What moments and areas of your life do you fail to believe that you belong to Jesus? How do you plan to connect real truth to real struggle?
  • Prayer. Study the prayer of Acts 4:23-31. Notice that while we can pray for anything, this church prayed for God’s presence and reality. Out of all the things they could have asked for, this was the matter most pressing on them. Will we pray more often and more fervently for God and his kingdom?
  • Leaders. Pray for existing leaders. Be leaders where your gifts, interests, and real need shows up in your life. What are you dreaming about and learning – fighting for and building out – as you follow Jesus.

Here’s what it comes down to for me – there’s a simplicity and clarity to life as a church that we miss because we attempt to be the church on our own. Let’s abandon self-reliance and embrace the hope of the cross that shines brightest in the illuminating flame of the Holy Spirit.

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Books on Prayer

While my first suggestion during this teaching series on prayer is to pray – these two books have been extremely helpful in influencing the shape of what we’re talking about on Sundays.

A Call to Spiritual Reformation – D.A. Carson

A Praying Life – Paul Miller

Read Miller first, then Carson.

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Desperate for Prayer?

As a church, our conversation focuses on three primary themes – gospel, community and mission.

A conversation we need to have is how little prayer goes into equipping and being equipped to live this out. Read this post from Kevin DeYoung and if you can’t go one day longer living in relative prayerlessness, talk to me so we can talk about what it looks like for you, me and the rest of the church mature as people of prayer:

If I could snap my fingers and change one thing about myself, I would ask God to make me more devoted to prayer. Don’t get me wrong, like you, I do pray. I pray almost every morning. I pray at staff meetings. I pray before meals. I pray with my kids before bed. I go on prayer walks. I pray in hospital rooms and in people’s homes. I pray for folks over the phone. My life is not devoid of prayer. But yet, oh how I wish my commitment to prayer were more, much more–more earnest, more faithful, more saturated in Scripture. What to do with Acts 6? I’m not sure what it would look like for me and my elders to hand off almost everything else so we can be fully devoted to the word of God and prayer (Acts 6:4), but I can’t imagine we are looking just like it quite yet.

I desperately want my church to be known as a church of prayer (not known for the sake of being known of course). We certainly aren’t failing in prayer. But I don’t know that we truly believe we would fail without prayer. Several weeks ago I listened to an interview with Ben Patterson where he talked humbly about the prayer meeting he leads at the church he attends and about the four hours he spends in prayer each morning. Hearing Ben, who I know from my days at Hope College, talk about prayer did not make me feel guilty. It didn’t make me feel competitive, like I need to pray as much as he does. And it didn’t make me feel skeptical, because I know Ben and know people who know Ben and I know that he is the real deal when it comes to prayer. Listing to the interview made me feel like I want to pray more. It made me want my church to pray more.

I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt that the church in North American is know around the world as a church committed to prayer. We have money, education, books, a lot of missionaries, and some great teachers. But do we have a reputation for serious, importunate, long-suffering prayer? What if the single biggest answer for the decline of Christianity in America and our paucity of evangelistic fruit was not the lack of a new strategy for engaging the culture or the lack of new music or the lack of new ways of doing church, but the lack of prayer? What if your church, my church, took a fresh look at all we are doing, put everything on the table and said, “Let’s put prayer first and we’ll see what we can fit in after that?”

Of course, we need prayer plus–prayer plus good preaching, good doctrine, good leadership, good strategy. But so often we think of everything else we can do besides pray. We end up minimizing prayer because 1) it’s hard and we aren’t very good at 2) we probably don’t really believe in its power. Deep down I think we believe that if we spend a lot of time praying, we’ll still have the same problems left to deal with. We just won’t have as much time to deal with them. Prayerlessness is the measure of our unbelief. We don’t really believe that God answers prayers. We don’t really believe that we have not because we ask not. We don’t really believe that God can do more than we ask or imagine. True, God doesn’t need to hear from us, but he ordained prayer so that we might be convinced of our need for him and he might be glorified in answering our prayers.

Reformed Christians believe most deeply in the sovereignty of God, the mercy of God, and in the power of God to whatever he desires. And yet, we often lag behind our brothers and sisters from other traditions when it comes to prayer. If the recent interest in and identification with Calvinism is truly a work of the Holy Spirit, and not just a passing trend, then we will see among the young, restless, and reformed a passion for God, a passion for truth, a passion for people in body and soul, and, infusing it all with unction and authority, a deep passion for prayer.

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