– Encouragement to pray through our church directory –
Dear church family,
Lately, we have been talking quite a bit about prayer. We have noted Tim Keller’s two broad categories of prayer: 1) communion-focused and 2) kingdom-centered prayer. We have reviewed a variety of definitions of prayer drawn from church history. Here is just one example:
Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised or, according to His word, for the good of the church with submission in faith to the will of God.
[John Bunyan, Prayer, 13, see also Ore from the Puritans’ Mine, 393]
We noted specific types of prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication [hat tip to big Dave]. We even discussed one of Ole Hallesby’s central components of prayer, helplessness. Today, I want to mention a technique or simple method that will help bolster our prayers of intercession—the systematic use of our church directory.
Pastor Charles recently produced extra copies of our church directory and placed them on the connect table. Here is the method I recommend. If you do not have one, please take a church directory and keep it by your nightstand. At some point during the day, probably of a morning or evening, open the directory and pray for one or two church families. You do not have to make this burdensome, just pray for their spiritual well-being, for timely help in the midst of possible difficulties, for blessing and salvation for their children, etc. In the modified words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, pray to the level of every day’s most quiet need.
James S. Stewart, the great Scots preacher of the 20th century, urged his students, who were mostly pastors, to pray through the church membership directory. He identified two blessings that would come from such an intercessory practice. Please note that I slightly changed his quote to apply it to every church member. He exhorted:
From such concrete and particular intercession, two results will follow. On the one hand, there will be a blessing for those for whom you pray. On the other hand, there will be revealed to you from time to time, even as you intercede for them, practical ways of helpfulness, new avenues of sympathetic understanding, opportunities of showing to this one or that other, something of the kindness of God for Jesus’ sake. And when you look into their faces on Sunday, as you [participate in] worship and [experience with them] afresh the all-sufficient grace of Christ, that background of your hidden intercessions, of your pleading for them name by name, will lift your words and wing them with love and ardor and reality. God will not refuse the kindling flame when secret prayer has laid its sacrifice upon the altar. [James S. Stewart, Heralds of God, 203-204.]
I am so grateful that we have many prayer partners and warriors in this church family. We love and need you! I would ask everyone to try this practice of intercession and see if the Lord does not bless those for whom you are praying while also delivering a special blessing to you as well.
Have a blessed week and we will see you on Sunday.
Love in Christ,