One of my favorite moments in our weekly worship gathering has become the pastoral prayer. If you’d told me in my 20’s I’d ever say a thing like that I would have laughed in your face. I guess God is the one doing the laughing now!
Each week before the sermon one of our Transition Team members or elder candidates prays a fairly lengthy prayer on behalf of the church family. Even amid the occasional crying baby and sneezing adult, these few minutes of focused prayer encourage all of us to be still long enough to worship, confess, intercede, and prepare. I am deeply thankful for the brothers who lead God’s church in this way.
You might be surprised to know that the majority of these prayers are developed ahead of time. Every now and then I am asked why we do this. The assumption seems to be that being ‘Spirit-led’ always means being spontaneous. While understandable that’s simply not true. Preparing ahead of time allows us to approach God thoughtfully and doctrinally, and to systematically pray for a large number of sister churches and adopted missionaries. Additionally, albeit not perfectly, it teaches us as a church how to pray as we pray the pattern of the Lord’s prayer.
Tad Skinner’s (Executive Director and Elder Candidate) prayer yesterday was especially powerful. Perhaps you would be encouraged to consider it closely again, and if you’d like to pray through more prayers I would recommend The Valley of Vision, A Diary of Private Prayer, and Tim Keller’s helpful theological treatment of the subject known simply as Prayer. Be encouraged as you read Tad’s prayer and may the Lord use it to propel you into praying of your own.
“Father, we joyfully acknowledge who you are this morning. We praise you because you are worthy of praise. We love you because you first loved us. And you love us with a lavish, gracious, sacrificial love. No one loves perfectly the way you have and the way you do. And so we thank you that even though we were sinners – dead in our trespasses, enemies of our Creator, a people who hated your authority – even though that’s who we once were, you pursued us. You love us with an everlasting love. You sent your Son to die for our sin – to purchase us from our slavery to self and sin. You are the one who saves!
But, your love didn’t end with what Jesus did on the cross for us. You sent us your Spirit to lead us, to comfort us, to guide us into your presence. We have no need of anxiety or fear. No need to search for comfort or peace in things of this world that won’t last and won’t fulfill. We can only say “It is well with my soul” because your Spirit assures us of our salvation in you. It’s only in you that we can find true rest and true peace.
This morning we praise you for a church family that believes these things and is actively working out our salvation by your hand and in community with one another. And, we want other churches around the globe to share the joy of fellowship in the gospel. So we pray for Superstition Foothills Baptist Church in Gold Canyon. We ask that you would move in the hearts of your people there that they would love your Word and love the community around them. We pray that that church would grow in depth of love for you and each other in such a way that the community of Gold Canyon is drawn to you.
And, as we hear from your Word this morning, we ask for the same thing. May your truth strike us deeply. May we be changed by hearing your very words to us this morning. So prepare our hearts to hear you. And use Pastor Chuck to help us know you. For without your help, our hearts are distracted and grow cold and Pastor Chuck’s words are ineffective as his own.
We pray in Jesus name, Amen.”
May we be a praying people,