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Archive for the month “January, 2015”

No Prayer, No Power (John Piper)

“This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:29)

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Mark 14:38)

I recently rearranged my study at home. But I did not remove the prayer corner or the prayer bench. I made it more private. All I have ever read and experienced teaches me that deep spiritual influence for the good of sinners and the glory of God comes from men and women who give themselves to prayer and meditation.

I just read, for example, about the secret of Charles Simeon, who endured great hardships in his powerful 54-year pastorate in Cambridge (1782–1836). His friend, T. Housman, stayed with him for a few months and tells us something of this man’s devotion:

Never did I see such consistency, and reality of devotion, such warmth of piety, such zeal and love. . . . Invariably he arose every morning, though it was the winter season, at four o’clock; and after lighting his fire, he devoted the first four hours of the day to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. . . . Here was the secret of his great grace and spiritual strength. Deriving instruction from such a source, and seeking it with such diligence, he was comforted in all his trials, and prepared for every duty.

It is true for individuals. And it is true for churches. No prayer, no power. And we need spiritual power. Consider the first quote (above) from Mark 9. There are spiritual forces that Jesus says are very hard to overcome. His disciples asked, “Why could we not cast it out?” Jesus answered, “Insufficient prayer!”

What did he mean? Probably not that they hadn’t prayed over the demonized boy, but that they had not lived in prayer. They had been caught in a prayer-less period of life. Notice: Jesus cast out the demon without praying: “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” But Jesus had prayed. He lived in prayer. He was ready when evil came. But the disciples had become weak and negligent in their praying. And they were powerless in the face of strong evil forces. “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

In other words, without persistent prayer we have no offense. As a church we are meant to invade and plunder the strongholds of Satan. But no prayer, no power. The same is true of defense. Look at the second quote (above) from Mark 14. If we are not vigilant, we will enter into temptation. Our defense and our offense as a church is an active, persistent, earnest, believing prayer force.

Our Big 7 Prayers for 2015 (Chris Francis)

On January 4th we began a new sermon series called “A CALL TO PRAY.”

 

Our hope is that we would be a praying church, a church that is utterly dependent on God’s grace and power in order to make things happen.

 

And for the first two weeks of this series we focused on “Our Big 7 Prayers For 2015” — specific things that we’re praying for regarding our church.

 

These Big 7 Prayers are what we want all our endeavors to be filtered through — how money is spent, outreach ideas, all the sermon series, etc. We want to always be asking the question, “Does this fall in line with our overall vision and our specific Prayers for 2015.”

 

Therefore, we are asking all those of you who call True Life your home church to join us in praying for these prayers. We are asking you to take ownership of our church by picking 2-3 of these prayers — the ones that really resonate with you — and commit to praying for them over the next few months.

 

Here is a brief summary of those Big 7 Prayers. To listen to the sermons in which we expounded on these prayers, click here:


1. That God would fill us with such awe of Him that we value and pursue Him more than anything else.  There is a difference between believing the right things about Jesus, and being so filled with awe of him that it drives us in everything we do. And that’s what we want — we want every ministry, team, and activity in our church to have as its top priority to fill our hearts with awe of Jesus and what he has done for us.

 

2. That we all embrace biblical Christianity instead of American Christian’sh’ness. We want to embrace and pursue the biblical Jesus, as a biblical church community….instead of the many silly versions of Christianity that exist within our culture.

 

3. That God would bless our marriages by showing each spouse where we need to repent. We are a church that is passionate about marriage because we know how precious marriage is to God and how much Satan wants to attack and divide spouses. But marriages need more than just communication skills and quality time. They need to address the sin in the hearts of each spouse.  The bible makes it clear that all of us are still dealing with indwelling sin, and therefore each spouse brings those sins into the marriage. So our prayer is that every spouse — whether their marriage is on the rocks or their marriage appears relatively healthy — is continually confessing their struggles with sin and repenting of those sins (turning from those sins and trusting more fully in God).

 

4. That Everyone Would Take Responsibility For Seeing Everyone Connected into Authentic Community.  We don’t want to play church. We don’t want to just have acquaintances with each other. We want to be in deep, authentic relationship with each other, where you know the real me and I know the real you and we are still committed to each other. And the only way that will happen is if those who are already connected take responsibility for seeing everyone else connected in.

 

5. That God would give us love for those whose sins offend us….and also the boldness to have awkward conversations to help each other grow.  Since the birth of our church, we’ve talked about being a church that is filled with grace for the hurting, the broken, the sinful. And everyone loves that idea…….until those sinners’ sins hit too close to home. Until their sin offends us. And then we have a hard time loving each other. But Christ called us to love each other as he has loved us (John 13:34) and that means we love others even when — or especially when — their sin is affecting us. That is Christ-like love.

But on the other hand, love doesn’t stop there. Jesus’ love for us is so great that he doesn’t just accept us where we are. He also wants to see us grow and turn from sin because sin robs us of peace and joy. And so we want to be a church that has the boldness to have awkward conversations to help each other grow and turn from sin.

Neither one of them is easy, and embracing both of them is especially difficult. And that’s why it’s a prayer. .

 

6. That God gives us the wisdom and courage to embrace Gospel-centered multiplication. We see all throughout nature that healthy things multiply. The same is true of the church. Healthy churches multiply. They give birth to new disciples, new leaders, new communities, new ideas, new volunteers. And as we head into year 3 of True Life Church, we feel it’s time to see an increase of multiplication in all facets of ministry.

But we must do it in a gospel-centered way  — where we are driven by a love for Christ and are willing to sacrifice relational security and relational comforts in order to see his glory and kingdom expanded.


7. That God would give us supernatural ideas to reach the geographic area that he has placed our church in. Jesus called his church the light of the world and a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14-16). This means that True Life Church does not  just exist for itself but for the surrounding towns and neighborhoods that our church community lives in. And so we want to be praying that God gives us big & creative ideas to be a light in those areas.

 

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