Saturday, December 27, 2008

January Newsletter Article

Here is a sneak preview of the January article for the church newsletter. After visiting the blog today and realizing I still had not posted the article for December. While I hope this series has been helpful to others, I know that it has been edifying for me to think through how important Scripture is to the whole of my own life, in addition to its obvious importance to the life of the church as we gather to worship.

The Word in Worship:

Pray the Bible (continued)

If you read last month’s article and wondered how to use more Scripture in your prayers, I wanted to write this month’s article to assist you further. First, John Piper has written a brief, wonderful article, “Tips for Praying the Word,” which I would direct you to as a good method for praying Scripture.

In addition, I thought it might be useful to see an example of praying the Bible using the 23rd Psalm. Since I often become distracted in my prayer, I sometimes use the A.C.T.S. approach to assist me in praying fervently and purposefully. This acronym stands for “Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication” (supplication is offering specific prayer requests to God for others and yourself). Let us see how the 23rd Psalm might be used for each of these purposes of prayer.

Adoration: “Father, You are the Great Shepherd. You are faithful to guide me and restore my soul. I long to dwell in Your house forever, because I long to be with You. Because I have You as my Shepherd, I have all I could ever want.”

Confession: “Father, forgive me for worrying and fearing at times, since I lose sight of the fact that You are with me. Forgive me for veering off as You lead me in paths of righteousness. When I go off course from Your leading, give me a heart that is quick to repent.”

Thanksgiving: “Father, I have so much for which to be thankful. You have restored my soul time and again. When I walk through valleys, thank You for being my comfort, and thank You for protecting me with Your rod and bringing me back with Your staff.”

Supplication: “Father, just as You guide me personally, I pray that You’ll guide our church. Lead us to do things that are right, and help us not to fear even economic valley. Also, please save my lost family members, so that they may have You as their Shepherd.”

I pray this was helpful to you. May God bless us as a church and as individual believers as we pray in accordance with His Word.

December Newsletter Article

The Word in Worship:
Pray the Bible

Have you ever prayed the Bible? I realize to many that may be an odd question, and my guess is that the advice to “pray the Bible” may be the most unusual in this whole series on “The Word in Worship.” While the concept may be new, I hope to be able to explain why praying Scripture, both in public and private worship is so important. It may also help explain why you will often hear us quote Scripture while praying during our worship service.

So, why pray Scripture? First, Scripture courses through the veins of believers, and it should show. A foundational truth to praying Scripture is having lives that are saturated in Scripture. This should go without saying, since we are followers of Jesus Christ. As imitators of the Savior, like him, we are also committed to doing the will of the heavenly Father and living by His words and not just by bread alone. Second, Scripture informs our praying and stirs our hearts in more fervent prayer. Surely, as we approach the Author of Scripture to talk to Him in prayer, our minds are full of the words He has written to us. It gives us words with which to come to God. The psalms, especially, give us ways to pray for ourselves and others: prayers of repentance (Psalm 51), prayers for spiritual renewal (Psalm 85), prayers for help (Psalm 70). Third, praying Scripture makes sure that our prayers are in accordance with the will of God. When we pray Scripture, we make sure that we are praying for what He wants us to pray for. Jesus tells us: “What you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13, ESV). The ESV Study Bible has the following note on the meaning of praying in Jesus’ name: “Praying in Jesus’ name means praying in a way consistent with his character and his will (a person’s name in the ancient world represented what the person was like); it also means coming to God in the authority of Jesus. Probably both senses are intended here.” This is another reason why praying Scripture is vital.

Therefore, let us pray the Scriptures, both in public worship and in our own private times of worship before our God. As we think of Jesus Christ this Christmas season, let us thank Him for His precious gifts to us—salvation, peace, and the miracle of prayer whereby we might continue coming to Him all year, every year of our lives. May you have a blessed, prayerful Christmas season!