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How I Pray for You | Classics Series

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[3.5 MIN READ]

The following blog is the newest installment in our Classics Serieswhere we revisit posts from days gone by. This blog was originally posted in April of 2013.


Prayer is a tricky thing, but it doesn't have to be especially if you borrow from God's Word itself.

One of a pastor’s main “tasks” is to devote himself to prayer. The office of deacon was basically started in the early church because those first pastors (the apostles) were distracted from their most important duties of Word and prayer through lesser, albeit good, priorities in the church (See Acts 6:1-6).

Off the bat, I must say that this is something I’m growing in and have not reached “optimal intercession”—none of us have. Practically, I try at least once a week to pray through the membership directory. This is one of my most vital tools in my prayer. It not only ensures that I pray for everyone but also puts you more in my heart (not to mention it cues me as to whether or not you’ve been in attendance). When I pray, I try to recall what physical needs you have. However, I take one of the prayers in the Bible (often from the apostle Paul) and use those phrases as I pray for you. Those prayers focus on spiritual endurance, grace to live, courage in witness, deeper knowledge of and intimacy with the God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, confidence against the Enemy, growth in love and humility, and the list goes on. I’m fairly convinced that God loves hearing his Word being prayed back to him.

So, as a brief example, take what the apostle says in Philippians 1:20- “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” This particular Scripture dovetails perfectly with praying for your physical needs as well as your soul. “Lord Jesus, I pray that ____________ would not be ashamed of you and that she/he would be full of courage in you and that his/her supreme desire would be to honor you whether in health, sickness or death.” Amen.

Now this model is simple and isn't just for pastors. It's for all Christians. How great it would be if God's people begun praying more deliberately the very words of God. A really helpful book to that end (other than the Bible, of course) is D.A. Carson's book A Call to Spiritual Reformation

Next week, I’ll share how you can pray for me.

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We Become What We Worship | Classics Series

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[6 MIN READ]

The following blog is the newest installment in our Classics Serieswhere we revisit posts from days gone by. This blog was originally posted in February of 2020.

 


 

Everyone worships something. 

There is no immunity from worship no matter your view of God. Specifically, the point is that we naturally worship what we love. Biblical scholar G.K. Beale has a whole book on the theology of idolatry in the Bible titled We Become What We Worship (no light reading for sure). Beale didn’t come up with this nifty title on his own. I imagine he was inspired by Scripture:

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.”  (Psalms 115:4–8 ESV, emphasis added)

When Westerners think of idols, we may think of figurines or statues typical of the Eastern (or even Southern) Hemisphere people groups. We think ancient—not modern. Primitive—not industrial. Or even superstitious—but not reasonable. 

As sophisticated urbanites who see National Geographic-esque portrayals of tribal deities in the Majority World, we might think, “We certainly don't worship idols.” But if the Bible written so long ago and is sufficient and relevant for us today says much about idolatry, shouldn't we assume that idolatry is our problem, too?

Jesus said it in different words: “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If your cell phone gets lost, your wifi goes down or your Ring doorbell glitches while you’re out of the house, we may get a glimpse into your heart. 

The late John Calvin has famously been quoted to say: “the human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual factory of idols.” In his day and age, he may have been saying this in the contextual stew of Roman Catholic idolatries. But he goes on as if he were sitting with us today:  

The human mind, stuffed as it is with presumptuous rashness, dares to imagine a god suited to its own capacity; as it labors under dullness, no, is sunk in the grossest ignorance, it substitutes vanity and an empty phantom in the place of God. To these evils another is added. The god whom man has thus conceived inwardly he attempts to embody outwardly. The mind, in this way, conceives the idol, and the hand gives it birth. That idolatry has its origin in the idea which men have, that God is not present with them unless his presence is carnally exhibited.

Idols don’t just appear (Exodus 32:24) or drop out of the sky (Acts 19:35). They are formed and fashioned. They are conceived as the psalm above attests. And then they are cherished and coddled. They are bowed to. In other words, they are worshiped. But they aren’t so adored neutrally. 

In our day and age, idols are anything that you emptily and/or ignorantly substitute for God. It can be a thing, an idea; an imagination; a person. It can be a whole complex of these. We may not personally take a hammer to anvil along with some silver and bang out something that we literally genuflect to. But, we constantly are capable of pumping out affections or allegiances toward things that comfort, amuse, distract or secure us.

This is exactly what Beale says in his book:

“People will always reflect something, whether it be God's character or some feature of the world. If people are committed to God, they will become like him; if they are committed to something other than God, they will become like that thing, always spiritually inanimate and empty like the lifeless and vain aspect of creation to which they have committed themselves.”

As Christians today, we are like those to whom Paul wrote: “...how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). We are no longer slaves to any other god or idol. But, our hearts (to Calvin’s point) still have the potential to reenact our former slavery. Though we are saved from bondage to any idolatry, we are not immediately saved from the attraction to some idols. With the saints of the ages, let us fight the magnetism by “hating worthless idols and simply trust in the Lord” (Psalm 31:6).

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