How do you pray for your church? 2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.”
During 2020, it has become increasingly obvious that the church needs prayer. The Devil is probably not a fan of your congregation and minister. Hopefully, the following list will help you pray for your assembly in a clearer way.
Obviously, everything that needs prayer is not on mentioned, but it is a good place to start. Add to this list as you see fit, but fervently pray for your church that God will use it in our generation. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 says, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.”
How do you pray for your pastor? Romans 15:30 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” Pastor’s need prayer as they maneuver through the intricacies of 2020.Race issues, society problems, family breakdowns, and politics are things that a pastor must face daily. The Pastor is expected to have the right answers. As a pastor this writer hopes this list will help you in praying for your minister.
The technology of 2020 and the ease in shopping online is incredible. Recently Heritage Baptist Church’s office placed an online ink cartridge order on a Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday morning FedEx delivered it. That is truly amazing!
Communicating with phones has never been more versatile and comfortable. The world literally is only a click away. Whether you are an Android or Apple user, the opportunities abound to maximize your schedule and free up more time.
Unfortunately, in society’s haste to invent time-saving devices, we have created products that dominate our time. To quote Dr. Seuss, “How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
Let’s take a timeout and think about this. King Solomon wrote, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” If we are not careful, the time we save can be quickly wasted and we can end up with even less time. This is called a vicious cycle and is well named in this case.
“I am too busy” is the number one excuse a pastor receives. Are you too busy for the Lord? Are you spending time with your family? King David wrote, “So teach us to number our days…” Not one person really knows how long they have left in this world. All time should be wisely spent.
James 4:14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” The average American spends hours a week online, gaming, and watching tv. Don’t let these things keep you from the things that are most precious. A timeout to evaluate and prioritize could make a big difference.
“He who fears he will suffer, already suffers because he fears.” Fear is overwhelming our society. People have reasons to be afraid as violence is common, storms are brewing, and viruses are invasive. Fear has even reached its tentacles into the church and caused such fear that many are no longer regular in their worship. Church doors are even closed temporarily and even permanently.
As a believer, how should we live in a time like this? 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” As a Christian, we should not be “shaking in our boots” over what is happening in our world. Psalm 118:6 says, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”
When thinking of fear it reminds this writer of 2 Kings chapter 6. The prophet Elisha and his servant are surrounded by the enemy during the night. The servant gets up early and discovers what has happened. He is very afraid and says “Master, what shall we do?”
Elisha is unconcerned. He says, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Elisha had spiritual insight to see things that others did not see. He walked with God and understood His power.
We need the spirit of Elisha today! Is it gone? I sure hope not. Hebrews 13:6 says, “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Our world is desperate to see some real bravery, and who better to display it than the Christian? Someone said this: “Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.”
God’s grace is free. Not much is truly free these days, and many things advertising such have hidden cost attached. Grace is totally free to us, but it does have a cost for Someone. Jesus Christ paid a hefty price of our sin. He laid down His life as payment, making it possible for us to receive the grace of God.
There is only one explanation for such a sacrifice—love. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Years ago, Billy Graham was traveling through a small town in the south, and a police officer pulled him over for excessive speeds. Graham immediately admitted his guilt, but the lawman insisted that he had to appear in court the that day. At the court hearing, the judge asked the famous question, “Guilty, or not guilty?” Graham pleaded guilty, and the judge gave the verdict, “That will be ten dollars—one dollar for every mile you were going over the speed limit.” About this time, the judge recognized the famous preacher. “You have violated the law,” he said. “The fine must be paid, but I am going to pay it for you.” The judge took ten dollars out of his own pocket and paid the fine, and then took Graham out and bought him a steak dinner.
That act of grace pictures how God treats us when we are willing to repent. Christ died so that we could go free. He became a willing sacrifice so we could receive His grace. John 3:17 says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Have you accepted this gift of grace?
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
We live in a day of no commitment. People are no longer committed to marriage, church, and the company they work for. Folks make purchases of homes and cars without a sense of moral obligation to make the payments. Athletes sign contracts one day and break the same contract the next. Even the phone and internet companies are offering no commitment plans to cater to a society that prefers that very thing.
In 1519, the Spanish explorer, Cortez, landed in Vera Cruz, Mexico. His purpose in coming was to conquer the area with a small force of 700 men. When all the men and supplies were ashore, Cortez ordered the ships burned. The small army watched from the shore as their only means of retreat burned and sank in the Gulf of Mexico. Forward into the Mexican interior was the only direction left to go. Retreat was no longer an option.
Commitment requires courage. The Bible story of Daniel is a great example. In Daniel 1:8 it tells us, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” Daniel decided early on that He was going to commit to the cause, and years later he was able to face the lion’s den with courage because of that decision.
The apostle Paul stayed committed to the end, and he wrote in his last recorded book, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” If you want to finish like Paul than you need to commit your life as he did.
Why not make a new commitment to the Lord today? The year 2020 requires courage. Like Cortez, you may need to “burn some bridges” and keep pressing forward.
The prophet asked God this question in Jeremiah 15:18: “Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed?” Perpetual has the idea of a strong, everlasting pain. This is both a mental and physical agony that cannot be wiped away with a quick trip to the doctor or a pharmaceutical prescription.
Job suffered from this overwhelming pain, and his friends noticed. Job 2:13 says, “So they (His friends) sat down with him (Job) upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”
Why is there so much hurting in this world? I do not think that this question is answered completely in this short piece, but there are answers found in the Scriptures. Jeremiah received an immediate answer. In Jeremiah 15:20 God says, “I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD.”
“Brasen” is hardened and tempered, like steel. God will make you strong enough to handle what comes your way. God knows the end from the beginning, and He can make us strong enough to withstand anything this world sends our direction.
God continued in verse 21 by saying, “I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.” The Lord does not promise we will not have troubles but promises to deliver the righteous in time of trouble. Pain is going to come our way, but deliverance is available to those who trust in Him.
Jesus understands great pain, even perpetual pain. He suffered as no one ever has on the cross for our sins. 1 Peter 2:21 says, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” If you are suffering mental or physical distress, turn to the Great Physician. He understands your pain more than you do yourself.
Do you ever feel your service is not appreciated? You are not the only person. An elderly missionary was returning home after many years of service. He and his wife had given their best years serving in Africa. He buried his wife and two children in the jungle. He had sacrificed more than most and was sick and weary.
As he exited the airplane, he saw many people holding banners and signs waiting at the gate. For a few moments he thought, “Can it be? After more than forty years of service, these people have actually come out to welcome me home?"
It was not for him. On the same plane was a famous official returning from a visit to Africa. While in Africa and traveling this man had every whim and need met. He returned home like a conquering hero.
Not a person showed up to welcome the old missionary. As he watched the festivities for the famous official, the man’s sadness became almost unbearable. Tears came, and he began to feel sorry for himself.
After a while, the missionary started to pray. "Lord God in Heaven, why? I’ve served You faithfully for so long. I don’t assume much. Is it wrong to wish for there be some kind of a welcome home?" In his heart, the old man heard the Lord say, "My child, you are not home yet." Wow, what a truth!
Jesus said to His disciples, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus then continued, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Please stay faithful. Your service has caught heaven’s attention and reward will come in due time. You are not home yet.
Jeremiah 12:5a says, “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?”
What an unusual question God asked Jeremiah. The idea behind this verse is that if you cannot handle the little things in your life, how will you fair when a big problem arrives. Jeremiah felt his current difficulties were weighty, but God was warning him of bigger ones on the way.
Life deals people problems almost daily. Most folks will experience major trials multiple times during their lifetimes. If the little challenges consistently get you down, how will you ever cope with the big ones that are in your future?
If you know the Bible even a little, you understand that big problems are coming for this world. 2 Timothy 3:1 says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”
It is quite possible that the trials Americans are undergoing are a tiny portion of what we will see in the coming years. If current hardships have us constantly complaining and wanting to quit, how will we handle the larger problems we could soon face in our nation?
God is rebuking Jeremiah for his soft attitude. God does not want a sissy but a soldier, and He expects the same from us. 2 Timothy 2:3 say, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
Are current trials affecting your spiritual walk? Horses are coming, so we had better learn now how to run. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
The Lord has promised strength and endurance for those who trust in Him. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Trials come our way to test us and make us stronger. Pass the test!
It would have been impossible for America to have won the Revolutionary War and freedom without God’s help. It was a ‘David vs. Goliath’ battle, and Goliath wins every time unless God intervenes. Seven years before he died, George Washington wrote, “I am sure that never was there a people who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States.”
One of the amazing battles early in the war was the battle of Bunker Hill, which was actually fought on Breeds Hill. Why does history still name it to have been fought on Bunker Hill? I believe it was because the spiritual battle was fought there by a Connecticut Baptist preacher named David Avery. Avery wrote in his diary, “I stood on a neighboring hill (Bunker) with hands uplifted, supplicating the blessing of Heaven to crown our unworthy arms with success…” As he prayed, historians write that one could literally feel the surge of reassurance pervade the ranks below him. Many feel that the bitter experience at this battle psychologically crippled the British for the remainder of the war. General Gage wrote, “The success, which was very necessary in our present condition, cost dear.” There is no doubt that they showed a healthy respect for American forces after this bloody battle. The British “won” this battle at great cost, but the real victory was won by a chaplain on the higher elevation who prayed during the entire conflict.
If space would allow, many more miracles could be shared of God’s power to give us freedom. It is sad to watch as America turns away from the One Who created her. I challenge you on this July 4th to recognize the God who gave you this freedom by attending church this weekend and to thank Him for the freedoms you have enjoyed. My prayer is that God will continue to show mercy on this nation.
The Rural Texas Pastor sharing some encouraging thoughts from a small East Texas town.