Ten Ways To Pray For This Election… and Beyond

As I’m writing this, America is voting. Some say it’s the most momentous election in our lifetime. It could decide this nation’s direction for a generation or more.

So, how can Christians pray for this election… and for what happens afterward?

  1. Pray for a fair and calm election.
  2. Pray that believers on Christ will get out and vote… in ALL our elections.
  3. Pray for the outcome of this election to spark a greater spiritual awakening in America.
  4. Pray for America’s churches to wake up, to preach the Word of God boldly despite persecution, and to pray without ceasing.
  5. Pray for our new President to be specially touched by God and drawn closer to Him through Christ.
  6. Pray for those who lose in these elections to gracefully support America and work with even their political opponents to see our nation live up to our
    prayers-for-election-day

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    God-given potential.

  7. Pray for a renaissance of mature statesmanship in our political process so people of excellence and Christ-like moral values will be drawn to elective office.
  8. Pray for newly elected officials to protect our religious freedoms as guaranteed in the First Amendment to our constitution.
  9. Pray for God to touch all our elected officials with His Presence, bringing about a spiritual awakening among those who serve in government.
  10. Pray for peace in America as this election ends.

What else are YOU praying for?

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
    he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1 ESV)

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”   (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV)

 

Should Christians Be Involved In Politics?

It’s a simple question, but it often draws a heated response. Should Christians be involved in politics?

Some say, “Absolutely not!” They’ve given up on the political process. Or they say we’re not here to build a ‘Christian theocracy’ – that this isn’t our arena as Christ-followers, that we should stay clear of politics and let the world-lings hash out all the problems of governing. They don’t want to be caught up in a ‘nutty nationalism’ that replaces God’s kingdom with allegiance to a civil government. And many of them don’t plan to vote in this presidential election since, in their estimation, neither candidate behaves like a Christian.

But others think political action is a way to influence the culture and save our nation from God’s judgment due to the corruption of our public morals (as in Sodom and Gomorrah). They think it’s a form of spiritual malpractice to let the common morality disintegrate when Christians could be influencing the cultural trajectory.politics-and-religion

Both sides have good points. But what does the Bible say about a Christian’s involvement in national, public issues?

  • God’s people should pray and work to improve the nation where God has placed them:

When the Jews were exiled to Babylon for seventy years, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah – “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7 NIV)

  • Jesus said God’s people should cooperate with the national government where they live, even if it is corrupt:

When the Pharisees and Herodians confronted Jesus with a trick question about paying taxes to Caesar, he famously said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. (Matthew 22:21 NIV)

People often quote this to prove that Christians should have nothing to do with civic government, but the context is actually the opposite. Jesus’ enemies wanted him to dismiss civil government’s authority and say he was leading a messianic rebellion against Rome, thus causing his arrest. (He was actually accused of that at his trial by some of the same enemies in Luke 23:2.) Instead he taught that the people of God have a dual obligation – (1) To cooperate with the civil government and (2) To render to God what is His. He taught this very same approach later through two of his hand-picked apostles.

  • God commands his people to submit to the governing authorities of the nation where they live.

As the apostle Paul writes to Christians under Roman persecution, he says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1-7 NIV)

Obviously this doesn’t sit well with some believers, but it’s clearly an instruction to the church on how to deal with an ‘un-Christian’ government. Even when being persecuted by that government.

  • God’s wants His people to pray for civic government and its leaders.

In Paul’s letter to the young missionary Timothy, he gives these instructions to Christians living in a Roman colony: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 NIV)

Notice Paul’s evangelistic reasoning. We pray for our government and its leaders so we can have a better environment for reaching out to lost people.

  • God expects His people to show respect for governmental authority.

I know. This is a tough one. When Peter wrote to the scattered, persecuted Christians whom he called “God’s elect, strangers in the world”, he said:

 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.(1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV)

So – it’s clear that God expects His people to relate to civil government in a respectful, cooperative way. But the Bible gives a couple of caveats about that issue:

  1. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). His supernatural kingdom comes first.
  2. The apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). When civil government (in their case, the Jewish theocracy) demands that we obey them rather than God in a matter of conscience, we refuse.

Otherwise, believers have certain obligations to the civic government appointed by God.

But does that include voting? Well, what if the apostle Paul had written a letter to the Romans with news that they could now vote to pick the next Caesar? Probably both contenders would’ve been corrupt or even brutal, so how would Christians have exercised their new ‘right to vote’?

I bet they would’ve been excited about the freedom to choose their leader, and I suspect their main questions would’ve been, “Which Caesar will be the least likely to persecute the church… which one will be the most friendly to our community as we pursue the mission to preach Christ to the world… which one will be the most likely to be touched by God’s grace?”.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Insights Into Christ’s Prayer Life

Did Jesus emphasize prayer in his own earthly ministry?

Look at how many times the gospels highlight his prayer life:

  • He prayed at his baptism—Luke 3:21
  • His prayers gave his ministry direction—Mark 1:35jesus-praying
  • He frequently prayed despite a heavy ministry schedule—Luke 5:16
  • He prayed all night before choosing apostles—Luke 6:12-13
  • His all-night praying produced miracles—Matthew 14:23-25
  • He prayed to open his disciples’ hearts—Luke 9:18-20
  • His prayers transformed him—Luke 9:28-29
  • His prayers were impelled by the Holy Spirit—Luke 10:21
  • His prayers inspired the disciples to imitate him—Luke 11:1-13
  • He prayed for the children—Matthew 19:13-14
  • His prayers raised the dead—John 11:41-42
  • His praying kept his mission in perspective—John 12:27-28
  • His gratitude produced thanksgiving in his prayers—Matthew 14:19 & 26:26-27
  • He interceded in prayer for the disciples—Luke 22:31-32
  • He prayed for his church on the night before his crucifixion—John 17:1-26
  • He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane—Luke 22:39-46
  • He prayed while on the cross—Luke 23:34, 46

These seventeen peeks into Jesus’ prayer life make the point—he considered praying to his Father a non-negotiable, vital part of his life’s mission on earth.

“Is it not written; ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” -Jesus (Mark 11:17 NIV)

Why do you think many Christ-followers find prayer ineffective?

13 Profound Things Jesus Said About Prayer

Do you know anyone who could teach a better prayer seminar than Jesus—the Son of God Himself?

Look at these powerful things Jesus taught about prayer:

  • He said we should pray for our enemies—Matthew 5:44.
  • He taught that our praying should be sincere, not hypocritical—Matthew 6:5 & Mark 12:40 (Luke 20:47).
  • He told us that praying in secret is powerful—Matthew 6:6.
  • He said that our prayers don’t have to be long, babbling prayers to be heard—Matthew 6:7
  • He gave us an example of simple, powerful praying—Matthew 6:9-15 & Luke 11:1-4.
  • He taught that persistence is the key to answered prayers—Matthew 7:7-12 plus Luke 11:5-13 & 18:18-20.jesus-praying
  • He told us to pray for more workers to harvest lost souls—Matthew 9:35-38 & Luke 10:1-2.
  • He said unity in prayer brings great power—Matthew 18:18-20.
  • He said His church is to be a ‘house of prayer’—Matthew 21:12-13 & Mark 11:15-17 plus Luke 19:45-46.
  • He said prayer from the right heart will get answered—Luke 18:9-14.
  • He said we win spiritual battles in prayer—Mark 9:28-29.
  • He told us that faith is a key to answered prayer—Mark 11:24 & Matthew 21:22.
  • He taught that we must forgive others as we pray—Mark 11:25.
  • He said praying in His Name is the key to powerful results—John 14:13-14; John 15:7, 16 and John 16:23-27

Have you experienced any prayer answers that came from one of these principles?

Was this our best Prayer Workshop yet?

I guess you’d expect us to brag on our 22nd Annual Prayer Workshop this year. Right?
Yes—but this one was special.

First of all, the speakers did an excellent job, especially Dave Butts as he taught us so much about our goal of becoming a ‘House of Prayer’. You can get more info about Dave’s seminars at his ministry website – HarvestPrayer.com. I highly recommend his prayer seminars.

And our guests enthusiastically told me how much this WorkshPEW 2015 crowd shotop means to them. Many of them make the trip each year to hear exceptional speakers, pray together and network with others who are praying for spiritual revival in this broken world.

As for the figures, we had six states represented—Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Sunday’s service, which included our 50th Homecoming, was the highest Sunday morning attendance we’ve had since 2007.
So thanks to all the wonderful servants who helped put this Workshop among the top events we’ve ever had!

You can see more at our church website or at our Facebook page.


Hope to see you all next year!

Teach us to pray??

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1 NIV)

Did you ever wonder about that? Why did the disciple say “TEACH us“? Doesn’t prayer come naturally, especially to disciples… especially during a crisis?

Emergency praying may come naturally, but praying effectively is something we’re taught.

That’s why our church has hosted a Prayer Enrichment Workshop for the past 21 years – and we’ll do another one on September 11-13, 2015 with several speakers.PewBroc2015 Cover

The theme: “Building Prayer Into The Life Of Your Church”.

The speakers:

  • David Butts. Chairman of National Prayer Committee and President of Harvest Prayer Ministries.
  • Victor Knowles. Founder of Peace On Earth Ministries and Editor of One Body Magazine.
  • Albert Lemmons. Seminar Teacher who has spoken at more than 600 prayer events on five continents and President of Prayer Matters.
  • J.J. Turner. Preacher, Church Elder and President of Jeremiah Institute.
  • Jerry Keene. Preacher for Farmerville Church of Christ and Homecoming Speaker for our 50th Anniversary as a church (Jerry’s dad, Percy Keene, was our first full-time preacher nearly 50 years ago.)

Check out all the details at our website where you can view and print the Workshop brochure.

Hope to see you there!

Why do our best prayers sometimes fail?

Back in mid-twentieth century, a psychologist named Klopfer made an amazing discovery. It came while dealing with one of his patients, a man named Wright.

Cancer had eaten up Mr. Wright, causing tumors the size of oranges throughout his body. He lay in the hospital, dying. Nothing could be done, except to make him as comfortable as possible.

But Mr. Wright’s hope flared a little when he heard of a new cancer drug called Krebiozen. He asked his doctors about it, but they wanted to reserve the experimental drug for patients who hadn’t progressed as far as Mr. Wright; they wanted to use it on those who would live longer.

But Wright insisted, begging his doctor until he gave one injection on a Friday, expecting him to die over the weekend.

Not only did Mr. Wright live through the weekend, but his doctors found him on Monday morning happily walking the halls and visiting with the staff. His tumors had shrunk to half their previous size.

Doctors excitedly began three injections a day for Mr. Wright, and within ten days he went home and back to his usual activities (which included flying his airplane).

However, it wasn’t long until the news media reported conflicting stories about the new drug’s effectiveness. Many said it was useless, news that put Mr. Wright back in the hospital where he reverted to his former critical condition.

At this point Dr. Klopfer intervened, telling Wright that the earlier drug had deteriorated in shipping and that a new, more powerful form would arrive soon. Mr. Wright took heart, and the Doctor began more injections… this time of nothing but fresh water!

Mr. Wright again recovered, leaving the hospital and going back to his normal activities in a few days. His watery injections had boosted him back to health… until.

Until the American Medical Association released a statement saying that Krebiozen was a totally worthless drug. His faith in the drug now shattered, Mr. Wright reentered the hospital and died within a few days. (See Dr. Bernie Seigel’s book, Love, Medicine & Miracles – Harper & Row; 1988, page 33.)

This amazing story reminded me of how Jesus emphasized the power of belief:

  • Jesus talked often about faith. He quizzed his disciples about it, pushing them to develop more of it. He often said, “according to your faith will it be done to you”, leaving life open-ended with few limits other than one’s lack of belief.
  • Faith amazed Jesus. To see time-bound mortals “get it” – to see them learn this God-like skill called faith – this excited Jesus.
  • He marveled at the Centurion’s astonishing faith (Matthew 8 ) and the iron-willed faith of the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15), but he also stood amazed at the smothering lack of faith in his own home town (Mark 6:6).
  • Jesus went around looking for faith, evaluating each encounter with people, sizing them up and taking their measure, always with an eye toward discovering faith… faith in him and his ability to manifest God on earth.
  • He even said, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8 NIV).
  • While we’re here on earth doing all this praying, he’s looking for faith. He’s evaluating our prayers based on their faith-content. Why? Because Jesus knows that even eloquent prayers spoken without faith are dead on arrival.

(Have you ever had a “Mr. Wright” experience? Tell us about it…)

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24 NIV).

An Old Path To A New Revival

Revival.

Many who are acquainted with church life would call ‘revival’  a series of meetings designed to draw unbelievers into the church.

But revival in the classic sense is much more. It’s the awakening – the reviving – of spiritually lukewarm Christians leading to a glorious, enthusiastic church that attracts a weary world to Christ.

True revival is what most preachers long for. So the lack of revival causes many pastors to grow weary. To wonder if they’re doing any good. To, in many cases, give up on their profession.revival

When churches rock along year after year in a deadening apathy, it crushes the spirit. One of the pastoral dangers of revival’s absence is that preachers often give up and sink to the level of the apathetic, rather than pulling the lukewarm up to a higher spiritual temperature. Having sunk to that level, many pastors never recover. They become the caricature of a ‘professional’ – working only to survive till retirement. They’re more interested in keeping the peace than in trying one more time to stir a heated revival.

So, how can pastors – and churches – see true revival? What prevents it? What causes it?

Most students of the phenomenon believe that true revival is a sovereign work of God. And that the only way to see that sovereign work is by prayer – by asking God to send His Spirit to revive His church. Note some of these quotes generated by the great revivals of the past:

The Great Awakening: “The faith and prayers of the righteous leaders was the foundation of the Great Awakening. Before a meeting, George Whitefield would spend hours–and sometimes all night–bathing an event in prayers. Fervent church members kept the fires of revival going through their genuine petitions for God’s intervention in the lives of their communities.” –Amy Puetz (www.christianity.com/church/church-history/the-great-awakening-11529421.html)

The Second Great Awakening“In New England, there was a man of prayer named Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, who in 1794, when conditions were at their worst, addressed an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States. Churches knew that their backs were to the wall. All the churches adopted the plan until America, like Britain was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings, which set aside the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before revival came.” -J. Edwin Orr (www.churchplantingwiki.com/index.php/wiki/Prayer_-_J_Edwin_Orr_-_The_Role_of_Prayer_in_Spiritual_Awakening/)

The Third Great Awakening: “As the historian Timothy Smith showed in his book Revivalism and Social Reform, there was an earnest expectation of awakening, and much prayer in many places for it in 1857. In cities large and small there were interdenominational prayer meetings. One prayer meeting, held daily at 4 p.m. in Bethel, Connecticut, was attended by ‘farmers, mechanics, and storekeepers,’ and claimed 400 conversions. Many smaller towns had similar daily or weekly prayer sessions… In Chicago, the Metropolitan Theater was filled every day with 2,000 people. In Louisville, Kentucky, several thousand crowded each morning into the Masonic Temple, and overflow meetings were held around the city. In Cleveland, the attendance was about 2,000 each day, and in St. Louis all the churches were filled for months on end… In February 1858 James Gordon Bennett began to give extensive space to the awakening in his paper, the New York Herald. Not to be outdone, Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, gave still greater coverage to the meetings, until in April 1858 he devoted an entire edition of the Tribune to a special revival issue.Other papers quickly followed suit in reporting the great numbers of people all throughout the nation attending the prayer gatherings and professing faith in Christ.”
(http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1989/issue23/2332.html?start=2)

It’s clear from these quotes – and hundreds of others – that, since only God can truly revive His people,  prayer will bring spiritual revival.

“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” -Romans 13:11 NIV

(Here’s a place to find more great revival resources: http://www.revival-library.org/index.html)

Local National Day of Prayer Breakfast inspired us all

What an inspiring morning! Our local National Day of Prayer Breakfast today, sponsored here in our region by Community Prayer Partners, hit a new high watermark. The food was wonderful – but the spiritual uplift came froIMG_1258-2m our worship time… and from the prayers of nine people chosen from different denominations to pray aloud about our families, churches & government… and from an excellent Bible message from Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson. Willie challenged us not to be identified by our past sins, but by our position in Christ. And to keep praying together as a community. A community that he and his family love and serve.

It seems we had around 400 hundred who attended, yet the impact didn’t come from the number but the spirit of the event. Or should I say Spirit?

It certainly helps to have well-known speakers like Willie Robertson but, judging from the Spirit of the room this morning, God’s Presence shaped the whole event. His Spirit encouraged us to keep on praying. And keep on loving each other in unity.

I’m already looking forward to next year. Hope you’ll plan to be there, too!

And keep on praying for spiritual revival in this broken world!

Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson speaks at our NDP Prayer Breakfast

I’ve been a member of a local group of praying pastors and church leaders called Community Prayer Partners for over a decade. It’s inspiring to see so many different denominations represented as we pray for revival in our region.Willie Robertson

One of our annual events is the National Day of Prayer Breakfast which we host. This year Willie Robertson will speak at our NDP breakfast at Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, Louisiana on May 7th beginning at 6:30 AM.
Tickets are $10.00 each. Email me if you need tickets… kroberts@calhounchurch.org.

If if you can’t be with us then – pray for revival!