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Praying for our churches

August 19, 2010

The local church is near to the heart of God. Throughout the New Testament Scriptures, we find God working in and through small assemblies of believers. We find Paul laboring to start and establish them, writing to them, praying over them. The book of Revelation begins with chapters of short letters to specific local churches full of praise and reproof from the One who sees their inner workings.

Life in the local church should be near to our hearts, as well. (We’ll be spending the month of October addressing this topic here at Scripture Dig, by the way!) But life in the local church is rarely easy- while God may look at us with eyes of grace and see us as saints, we still can act very un-saintly. Life in the church can be fraught with wounds, strange inter-personal politics, misunderstandings, frustration, lack of direction, overburdened workers, and sin in all its lovely forms.

So, what’s a believer to do?

Often what I want to do is talk. I want to make my opinions known. I want to explain my side of the story and my theory on the best way to approach a ministry. I want to get more information (which is usually something I don’t really need!) Obviously there are times to speak up – there are situations that need to be wisely and carefully dealt with, sin that needs to be lovingly and directly confronted, lines of communication that need to be opened, appropriate times to share counsel.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

But you see, those are the hard conversations I don’t like to have. Other kinds of talking, the sinful and destructive kind, come far too easily.

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Proverbs 10:19

Satan wants to tear apart our churches. He wants believers to be divided and distracted. He wants us to turn on one another. Spiritual warfare is oh-so-real and present even within the whispered conversations happening in the halls of your church building.

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Proverbs 18:8

One major thing, the most important thing, we can do to combat it is to stop talking to others and start pouring out our hearts to God.

“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” Acts 14:23

You see, dear one, He knows. He knows how you have been wounded in your church (and we all have.) He knows the major needs that must be addressed. He knows what happens behind the closed doors of offices and meetings. He knows. You can talk all you want to Him. You can pour out every thought, every burden on your heart.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

What your church needs from you more than anything else is your prayers.

“What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer.” -E.M. Bounds

If you’ve been following the prayer series here on Scripture dig, hopefully you’ve found some useful “how-to” tips for organizing your prayer life. Perhaps you were drawn to Teri Lynne’s prayer calendaring, Julie’s graphic organizers and prayer notebook, or Sandra’s prayer cards. Whatever method you use, I want to challenge you to consider how to turn all those words you speak about your church into prayers for your church.

What should you pray? In addition for praying for specific needs and situations in your church, as well as for your pastors, leaders, and their families, I definitely echo Teri Lynne’s encouragement to pray Scripture. For example, I went on BibleGateway.com and searched for the word “pray” in Paul’s epistles – read through these passages and find some great patterns for your own prayer life for your church! Recently I compiled a list of 23 ways to pray for your church from the letters to the churches in Revelation. Teri Lynne also has a free ebook with a 30 day challenge to pray for your church with passages from the book of Acts.

Life in the church is challenging. It is sanctifying. It reveals to us our sin, our selfishness, our pride – and because it does this for all of us, it can be painful. More than your offerings, more than your hours of service, your church needs your prayers. Bring your burdens to the throne today – and rest in the truth that Christ is the Lord of His church.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 7:39 am

    Thank you for this! Our local catholic community just consolidated 5 local churches into one. You can imagine all the anger and bitterness and there are many causing a lot of strife over something that has already been done. I keep telling my husband that these people really need to put that same effort into prayer and that would be far more effective than placing “secret meeting” notices on my windshield…I will continue to pray for my church and I pray that others within will do the same. πŸ™‚

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      August 19, 2010 7:51 am

      wow – Emily, I’m sure there is a lot of strife and drama happening! What a time for you and your husband to continue to faithfully pray.

  2. stephanieshott permalink
    August 19, 2010 8:23 am

    Kristi ~ What an awesome post! I love your encouragement to turn the words we say about the church into prayers for the church. Thanks for your sweet reminders to pray for the church and see each other through the eyes of grace. πŸ™‚

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      August 19, 2010 9:00 am

      Thanks, Stephanie – I know it’s not easy to do!! May God impress us deeply with the truth of His grace and may it just pour out of us all the time!

  3. August 19, 2010 9:25 am

    Kristi, thank you for your words of wisdom and challenge today. Too often we talk when we should pray. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      August 19, 2010 9:30 am

      You’re welcome- I needed the reminder, too! πŸ™‚

  4. August 19, 2010 10:01 am

    Bravo Kristi! I hate to hear people tear down their churches, for it is God’s house! People are fallible, but God is not. Our focus should be on him.

    We are so very blessed by our church and we love it. We pray frequently for our leaders, as they are always a prime target of Satan.

    Thank you for this great encouragement!

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      August 19, 2010 10:12 am

      “People are fallible, but God is not.” – oh, LOVE that Cherie!

  5. Julie Sanders permalink
    August 19, 2010 10:42 am

    I really love the ways to pray that flow out of the letters to the churches. Excellent way to apply God’s Word to the work of prayer. And how comforting in church life to know that, “He knows.” Sigh of relief! πŸ™‚ This is a wonderful exhortation today, Kristi!

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      August 19, 2010 10:56 am

      Thank you, Julie – I cling to that “He knows” truth all the time!! Amazing that He already knows and yet He still lovingly invites us to cast our cares upon Him. πŸ™‚

  6. August 19, 2010 11:11 am

    The challenges and instruction on ideas for prayer have been excellent this week. This post on praying for the church is so powerful and timely.

    I love E.M. Bounds and the quote you used in this post is just awesome. What the church needs is mighty people of prayer, not more programs, more gadgets or gimicks.

    I have been guilty most certainly of not praying like I should for the church, for my family, for my husband..etc. Thank you for the encouragement to get on my knees and pray.

    ~Blessings~
    Marita

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      August 19, 2010 11:13 am

      You’re so very welcome, Marita – these past few weeks focusing on prayer have been a wonderful challenge for me, too. So exciting to think of what God will do through us if we take our privilege and responsibility to pray seriously!

  7. August 19, 2010 11:44 am

    Something else God has been reminding me of is the need for the church to pray together! There are countless examples in Acts of the church meeting together to pray.

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      August 19, 2010 11:46 am

      Amen, Kathy.

  8. August 19, 2010 1:36 pm

    Again God found the words I needed to hear today. Not soley to do with praying for my church but wonderful just the same. Thank you xx

    • Kristi Stephens permalink*
      August 19, 2010 1:40 pm

      You’re so welcome, Sara! Don’t you love how He always leads us to what we need to hear? πŸ™‚

Trackbacks

  1. Confidence: Finding Rest in the Sovereignty of God « Scripture Dig
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