My sermon, Praying To Our God, from Psalm 34 is online. This sermon, which served to kick off our church’s Week of Prayer, sought to encourage us to be a people of prayer by showing that God gives joy, listens to our prayers and comes near to help us. We distributed our Week of Prayer devotionals and had an enjoyable morning looking heavenward for help. I trust you had a glorious Lord’s Day kicking off the New Year.
For the next couple of Sundays, Crestview will be looking at Psalm 34. This coming Lord’s Day, in particular, we will be thinking about prayer in this Psalm. Those who cry to the Lord are heard. We are called to praise. There is so much for us. Over on Twitter, I’ve been tweeting meditations on these verses. I would encourage you to read this Psalm and think about what it means for your prayer life. If you are interested in some of our Week of Prayer resources, they are available here.
Yesterday’s sermon, Clinging To Christ, from Hebrews 4:14-16 is online. The sermon was led by this big idea in this portion of Scripture about Jesus being our high priest and the exhortations to hold fast our confession and draw near to the throne of grace with confidence. It was an encouraging and needed word in my life.
In the PM, we met for corporate prayer praying together for some needs that are pressing in our congregation. We typically do this once a quarter and have found it to be most productive when the Elders lead out with some specific requests.
At any rate, we enjoyed a tremendous Lord’s day and I’m grateful that I got to participate in it.
Loved this post by Joe Thorn on how he uses the Valley of Vision to help him regularly engage with God in prayer. You can also order the book and print a schedule off to use in your own devotional life. I’ve used the Valley of Vision for nearly 10 years now and find it to be a great tool for giving me fresh language in God and Gospel-centered prayer.
Today is Ash Wednesday (cue the yawn from most of Protestantism). We don’t tend to think or observe these days in the church year because we perceive that in some cases what they mean has been hijacked for empty ritual (in the best thinking) or we are just plain ignorant (at worst).
Lent was a traditional time in the early life of the church when converts would prepare themselves for baptism. It was a time of deep reflection and purification preparing one’s heart to celebrate the passion week events of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. Ash Wednesday marks the day in which we’re 40 days out (of Easter).
If you are looking for help in going deeper with God this season, check out the amazing tools at Apostles Church NYC. Specifically, they are doing 40 Days of Prayer, including a daily devotional. Here’s their description of Lent and what they hope to accomplish:
Lent is intended to be a time of refinement, reflection, repentance, worship, and preparation to really celebrate the death of Jesus on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. In 40 Days of Prayer, we sincerely hope to lead our people (and ourselves) through Lent and into a deeper delight in Jesus, appreciation for the gospel, and desire to “seek things above” out of his goodness.
Find ways to seek the Savior and honor Him in this season. May the grace of our Lord be with you richly as you think about Him and His work.
As a church, we’ve spent a great deal of time over the past few months thinking about prayer and what that means for us. Today, I was encouraged to read a post by Thabiti entitled Learning to Pray…Again. I would commend the post to you because he gets to some core struggles we all face (not praying enough, thinking we don’t pray well, etc.) and offers some wise and godly encouragement. Here’s his conclusion:
I’m learning to pray this way again. I suspect that once I’ve “learned” this time, the Lord will teach me yet more.
Why not head over and check out this post and learn to pray…again, yourself.
Now that I’m back from the 2011 Desiring God Conference for Pastors, here are some reflections on each of the messages.
Session 1 – Cultivating Private Prayer as a Pastor – Joel Beeke
This was a great kick off session, full of quotes and much practicality. I really felt conviction of my lack of prayerlessness through this sermon. His two paths of application were Take Hold of Self and Take Hold of God. Matt Perman tweeted that this was the best sermon on prayer he’s ever heard. I am in relative agreement, although this wasn’t an exposition as much as a topical unfolding of the subject of prayer.
Session 2 – Helping Your People Discover the Praying Life – Paul Miller
If you’ve read Miller’s book, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World, then this session will be a helpful, one talk summary of all that this book teaches. It was really encouraging as well.
Session 3 – Prayer as a Way of Walking in Love: A Personal Journey – Francis Chan
This talk was a testimony of sorts as to how Chan has experienced answered prayer in his walk with the Lord. Great question in this talk was “Do you still believe God answers prayer?” Very motivational to the practice of prayer.
I love these biographical messages by Piper each year. This year’s didn’t disappoint. He weaved what made this young man burn with passion for God by showing his conversion and preparation for a young life. It ended up looking at the place of prayer in McCheyne’s life. Again, very encouraging.
Session 5 – Leading Family Worship – Joel Beeke
This talk had 4 goals: to lay out a paradigm for family worship, to discuss the practice of it, to lead us to preach on this and to consider more effective ways of training others in this. This talk was replete with practical ways one could go about practicing family worship.
Session 6 – Unreached Peoples and the Power of Prayer – Jerry Rankin
Another highlight of the DG conference is the missions talk or how does the subject of the conference relate to the fulfilling of the Great Commission. Rankin gave a call for us to go about obeying the Great Commission and realize that as we pray for the nations God might be changing our hearts to go ourselves.
Session 7 – Q & A – Speakers Panel
The conference typically wraps up with a session dealing with some questions the conference inspired. Helpful way to review and hear about the subject matter again.
Overall Reflection: I loved attending this conference. DG always does a great job of leading us in singing, giving us opportunities to pray and helping us think through subject matters. I personally would have liked to see more Biblical expositions, but found the messages helpful. I think, also, that sometimes commendations were confused with commands. It’s easy for pastors (especially) to treat applications as matters of obeying or disobeying what God has actually said. There was some blurring of that. However, these are minor assessments. Overall, I know that I need to be about the work of prayer in ministry and this conference helped give me avenues to flesh this out more in my life.
…the 2011 Desiring God Pastor’s Conference:
Traveled here yesterday with men from the church. With the big storm coming, we drove straight through and ended up getting in around 12:45AM today. Got into the hotel and slept pretty well. Today, we will have the conference later today, but at Noon, we are meeting with one of our church’s supported missionaries.
If you think of us, pray that God would encourage us as we think about being people of prayer and leading Crestview in this regard.
Well, we had another great Lord’s Day yesterday. In the AM, we looked at Matthew 6:10 in a sermon entitled Model Prayer (2). (There was a problem with the audio, but a manuscript will be available on Crestview’s Sermon Page.) Specifically, we looked at praying God-centered prayers for the Father’s reign and the Father’s will.
In the evening, my small group finished Thabiti’s book by seeing a healthy church member is a prayer warrior. In the course of discussing that, I mentioned some tools:
Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers.
Operation World will email you an unreached people group each day.
Donald Whitney spoke of using the Psalms to pray each day.
Matthew Henry also has a Scriptural way to pray the Model Prayer.
Grab these tools and be helped by them.
Today’s sermons are now online.
In the AM, we started looking at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9. The sermon, Model Prayer (1), discussed 2 instructions for prayer based on “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name…”. What most people (including myself) were amazed at was how Jesus always called God His Father in prayer, except on the cross (my God). This seems to inform our intimate approach to Him as our Father because of what Jesus has done.
In the PM, we started a series entitled the Gospel Centered Family with a sermon on Prayer and the Family. I tried to highlight how, for families, we must pray, teach prayer and model prayer. I also tried to bring Gospel-centered insights to this.
Hopefully God uses these words to continue to form us into a people of prayer.