Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’
Posted on April 15th, 2014 by Eric Parker
Have you ever struggled with getting started in prayer each day? D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives this really helpful encouragement:
I have come to learn certain things about private prayer. You cannot pray to order. You can get on your knees to order; but how to pray? I have found nothing more important than to learn how to get oneself into that frame and condition in which one can pray. You have to learn how to start yourself off, and it is just here that this knowledge of yourself is so important. What I have generally found is that to read something which can be characterized in general as devotional is of great value. By devotional I do not mean something sentimental, I mean something with a true element of worship in it. Notice that I do not say that you should start yourself in prayer by always reading the Scriptures; because you can have precisely the same difficulty there. Start by reading something that will warm your spirit. Get rid of a coldness that may have developed in your spirit. You have to learn how to kindle a flame in your spirit, to warm yourself up, to give yourself a start. It is comparable, if you like, to starting a car when it is cold. You have to learn how to use a spiritual choke. I have found it most rewarding to do that, and not to struggle vainly. When one finds oneself in this condition, and that it is difficult to pray, do not struggle in prayer for the time being, but read something that will warm and stimulate you, and you will find that it will put you into a condition in which you will be able to pray more freely.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, 181-182
Posted on April 1st, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning
Several weeks ago, we told you of reports coming out of North Korea that told of 33 Christians who were awaiting execution for their involvement in planting 500 underground house churches. We cited theWashington Times and the Christian Post, and it has since come to our attention that their source may not be entirely accurate.
A seemingly more reliable report confirms that many people were detained and for their alleged involvement in helping South Korean missionary Kim Jung-wook sneak into North Korea, though they may not have all been Christians:
North Korean authorities have detained dozens of people accused of helping a South Korean missionary smuggle himself into the country, a local source said, as a report suggested that some of them face execution on charges of conspiring with him to set up underground churches.
As you can see, while it is still entirely possible that underground Christians face execution, we simply don’t know for sure. The report goes on to say that some of the detainees “include guards,” which means that it’s also entirely possible that not all the detainees were Christian and that the motivation for their detention may have had nothing to do with underground house churches.
We would still urge you to pray for Kim Jung-wook, whose current plight is far from favorable. And while one Christian blogger cautions us to stop referring to the detainees as “underground Christians,” we should still pray for them, too. Whether or not they’re all believers, it’s undeniable that they are in danger. Although the nature of news coming from North Korea can be murky and disputed, at least two facts do remain: the government is impossibly harsh toward its citizens and vehemently opposed to Christians.
Posted on March 25th, 2014 by Eric Parker
George Müller’s biographer, Arthur T. Pierson (1837-1911), touches on a topic especially relevant to this year’s Secret Church topic on “The Cross and Everyday Life.” We live in a fast-pace society whose mantra is literally “Time is money,” so that the more we get done then the more efficient we have become. While this is not necessarily wrong in all cases, many of us have been indoctrinated with this way of thinking to the detriment of our souls. Pierson has this to say about the necessity of prayer for the quality of our work,
George Müller was conscious of being too busy to pray as he ought. His outward action was too constant for inward reflection, and he saw that there was risk of losing peace and power, and that activity even in the most sacred sphere must not be so absorbing as to prevent holy meditation on the Word and fervent supplication. The Lord said first to Elijah, ‘Go, hide thyself’ then, ‘Go, show thyself.’ He who does not first hide himself in the secret place to be alone with God, is unfit to show himself in the public place to move among men. Mr. Müller afterward used to say to brethren who had ‘too much to do’ to spend proper time with God, that four hours of work for which one hour of prayer prepares, is better than five hours of work with the praying left out; that our service to our Master is more acceptable and our mission to man more profitable, when saturated with the moisture of God’s blessing—the dew of the Spirit. Whatever is gained in quantity is lost in quality whenever one engagement follows another without leaving proper intervals for refreshment and renewal of strength by waiting on God. No man, perhaps, since John Wesley has accomplished so much even in a long life as George Müller; yet few have ever withdrawn so often or so long into the pavilion of prayer. In fact, from one point of view his life seems more given to supplication and intercession than to mere action or occupation among men.
Arthur T. Pierson, George Müller of Bristol, 130
Join us for the Secret Church simulcast on Good Friday, April 18, 2014, 6pm – midnight (CT) to learn more about how the cross should affect our everyday lives.
Posted on March 17th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning
In case you missed it, the prayer focus for the upcoming Secret Church (“The Cross and Everyday Life”) is the peoples of Turkey. Today, Turkey is 99% Muslim. Though there are only a handful of believers there now, there was a day when Christianity thrived in the region. Join us as we learn more about this country and the rich Christian history of a region now dominated by mosques.
Secret Church 14, “The Cross and Everyday Life,” takes place on Good Friday, April 18, 2014. You can find out more information and register for the simulcast at SecretChurch.org.
The following post originally appeared at Voice of the Martyrs. Let this report guide your prayers for Pastor Zhang, the members the church still imprisoned, and the rest of the church family suffering from threats and opposition. His trial is tomorrow, but be sure to pray today with the time change!
Three of the 12 Nanle County Christian Church members who have been imprisoned since mid-November 2013 have been released, but their pastor still faces a criminal trial on Feb. 12. The three women, Zhao Xiping, 47; Yang Miling, 40; and Sheyin Duanmu, 44, were released on Jan. 24 from Nanle County Detention Center.
Pastor Zhang Shaojie, 49, was arrested on Nov. 16 after a meeting with local government officials. About 20 people who protested the pastor’s arrest were detained or arrested in the following days.
The pastor now faces charges of “fraud” and “gathering a mob to disrupt public order.” Although he was allowed to see his attorney on Jan. 16, government officials have postponed his trial date of Jan. 28 to Feb. 12. Lawyers involved in the Nanle County case have been beaten and even threatened with having their credentials revoked. Local officials have also tried to prevent Zhang and other church members from hiring particular lawyers.
Pastor Zhang’s family and other church members have continued to face persecution from local government authorities. Zhang’s eldest daughter received harassing phone calls in which authorities threatened to “wipe out her entire family” for trying to contact higher authorities and report on the persecution of the church. Fearing for her life, she fled to another town with her husband and 10-month-old child.
Zhang’s youngest daughter was held in the detention center for a short period of time. The family’s Internet service was stopped and the tires on their vehicle were slashed in apparent attempts to prevent them from connecting with those outside the Nanle County area. The local government has also prohibited church members from worshiping at the church.
Among those still imprisoned is Wu Guishan, the 43-year-old husband of Zhao Xiping, one of the women just released from the detention center. The couple was detained in November because of their interaction with the church. They have two school-aged children. Their eldest daughter dropped out of school to try to locate Wu, who was taken by authorities when he tried to appeal his case. His location is currently unknown. The couple’s 15-year-old son was taken to an orphanage while his parents were imprisoned.
Posted on January 15th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning
If you haven’t already seen, the 2014 World Watch List is out. With about twice as many Christian deaths due to persecution in 2013 as there were in 2014, watching where and how these violent trends grow is more important now than ever before. We ought to be well acquainted with the suffering of our brothers and sisters overseas so that we can better pray for and minister to them.
Sadly, North Korea’s prison camps and public executions earned it a number one spot for the 12th consecutive year. Syria, accounting for over 1,200 Christian deaths, continued it’s rapid climb from number 36 two years ago, coming in at number three in 2014. This is largely due to the ongoing civil war in which almost half of the fighting rebels come from Islamic extremist backgrounds. Overall, it’s hard to ignore the impact that Islamic extremism has had on the persecution of Christians. It is the main source of persecution in 36 of the top 50 countries ranked, as well as the reason that Bangladesh and Central African Republic were both newly added to the list.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the list. Remember the believers that live in these places and pray for them. Also, note that this is where the gospel is urgently needed… so pray for bold gospel proclamation resulting in the salvation of the persecutors.
This post originally appeared on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information on the persecuted church and future Secret Church gatherings.
Posted on January 2nd, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning
Last month, the issue of Christian persecution was brought before the UK House of Commons. To those of you who, like me, may initially find it puzzling that such a topic would be discussed and debated in the British Parliament, this sobering statistic will make it clear why: an estimated 200 million Christians will be persecuted this year, while around 500 million live in “dangerous neighborhoods.” In the words of Member of Parliament Bob Neill, specifically addressing persecution of Christians living in the Arab world (perhaps the most dangerous of “neighborhoods”), “It is legitimate, as a matter of policy, for us to seek to use our leverage to change that situation.” However the issue is addressed, it is here before us all as 2014 begins.
Thankfully, this global issue is catching the eye of more than just the British Parliament. Recently on BreakPoint, Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet discussed a new book by John Allen titled The Global War on Christians. In a short four-part series (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) Metaxas and Stonestreet discussed a variety of topics covered in the book, ranging from the millions of Christians living in Muslim contexts, to Christian persecution from people with varied religious beliefs, to the rise of persecution in the West. If this short series doesn’t make you want to read Allen’s book, it will at least awaken your heart to the suffering of our brothers and sisters for whom persecution is far from myth or rumor.
And there are many who call persecution of Christians just that: myth and rumor. In reality, the notion that Christians aren’t persecuted or marginalized is the real myth. Timothy Shah (Fox News) recently showed this in an article that pinpointed some of the things that “cloud popular thinking” and make the general public blind to the hostility that Christians all over the world must endure on a daily basis.
All this in mind, here are some reminders for us this January:
- Persecution is real. Let’s be prayerful. (Jam 5:13) (1 Thes 5:17)
- Persecution is growing. Let’s be watchful. (Matt 24:9-13) (Col 4:2)
- Persecution is temporary. Let’s be hopeful. (Rom 8:18)
- Persecution is sometimes a sign of gospel advance. Let’s be thankful. (Phil 1:12-13) (Matt 24:14)
- Persecution is part of our identity with Christ. Let’s be joyful. (Rom 8:16-17)
This post was originally published on the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out of updates and information on the persecuted church as well as Secret Church simulcasts.
Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
For Christians all over the world, today is a day to celebrate the coming of our Savior. And most of us are free to do that openly. Right now, many are gathering together with loved-ones, singing songs about the coming of the Messiah, feasting, celebrating. In fact, for many of us Christians, taking advantage of this religious freedom doesn’t stop at personal worship in our homes or churches; Christmas is an opportunity for gospel proclamation. We “tell it on the mountain” as we strike up gospel conversations using our seasonal surroundings, from our front yard nativity scenes featuring baby Jesus to our “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers. However, there are many believers who pay a high price for associating with Jesus during Christmas.
Last Christmas in Nigeria, 36 Christians were killed between December 24 and December 30, 6 of those deaths occurring at the hands of gunmen during a Christmas Eve service. Christmas 2011 saw the death of 44 Christian Nigerians.
These tragic killings happened in a place where people are often murdered for following Jesus, but Nigeria is just one of many places where such atrocities occur. And most instances of persecution don’t end up in believers’ deaths. Sometimes worse, their persecutors often make their lives miserable. So they limp on, repeatedly counting the cost and, with joy, daily taking up their cross.
Today, let us pray for these dear brothers and sisters. Whether they find themselves homeless and outcast in the Middle East or face-to-face with violent opposition in places like Nigeria or the Central African Republic, they need our prayers for God’s strength in their lives.
Over 2,000 years ago, when thousands of baby boys were murdered at the hands of King Herod, it was made clear that suffering and death were not to be strangers to Christmas. After all, Christ was born in the manger to die on the cross. And as encouraging confirmation to our brothers and sisters suffering this Christmas, let us remember Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 15:20: “‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” God fulfilled His glorious purposes through Christ’s suffering, and in Jesus, we can be sure that God will do the same for Christ’s followers.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us… And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:16-18, 28-29
This post can be found at the Secret Church blog. Be sure to check it out for updates and information on Secret Church and the persecuted believers around the world.
Posted on December 6th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
Ronnie Smith, chemistry teacher at the International School Benghazi in Libya, was shot and killed yesterday morning while going on a jog. He was a member of the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. Below is an open letter regarding this tragedy, posted to the church on Austin Stone’s website. Let us join them in grief and prayer as we are inspired to emulate the example of sacrificial service Ronnie gives us, to the glory of God among all nations.
It is with a very heavy heart that we write to you today about the loss of our dear brother Ronnie Smith. Ronnie was shot and killed in Benghazi while going for a morning jog. We don’t fully understand the motives of his attackers. He had been teaching chemistry at the International School Benghazi in Libya for the last year and a half.
Before moving to Benghazi, Ronnie was a member of the church staff at the Austin Stone. Ronnie, his wife Anita, and his son are dearly loved by our church family; many of us knew Ronnie and his family well. Ronnie and his family were planning to spend time before Christmas with us here in Austin. Anita and their son had returned to the U.S. and are safe with family. Ronnie, out of a sense of dedication, had stayed in Libya to be with his students through their midterm exams.
Ronnie and his family moved to Benghazi to teach high school chemistry and to be a blessing to the Libyan people. Ronnie loved Libya and was dedicated to his students to help them aspire to their dreams. Ronnie’s greatest desire was for peace and prosperity in Libya and for the people of Libya to have the joy of knowing God through Christ.
Ronnie was a brother in Christ and a faithful servant of this church for many years. Although we grieve because we have lost a friend, a husband, and a father, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has a greater purpose than we can imagine right now. Though we don’t fully understand right now, we place our full trust in the one who does until we see our friend again.
For right now, we ask you to:
- Pray for Anita, Hosea, and the rest of Anita and Ronnie’s family
- Grieve for the loss of our brother with the hope of Christ
- Trust that God’s will is perfect and His purposes are good
If you happen to be contacted by news media, please refer them to Dave Barrett, our Executive Pastor.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together…” – 1 Corinthians 12:26
“… follow me.” – Luke 9:23
Posted on November 28th, 2013 by Eric Parker
Note: The following excerpt was adapted from a sermon delivered by Pastor David Platt on 7/8/07 titled “Desperation: Do We Need Him?” Go to the Resource library in order to access the sermon in it’s entirety.
We pray to express the depth of our needs for him, explore the mystery of this intimacy with him, and to experience the power of being used by him. God’s sovereignty means that he, in all of his sovereignty, has ordained prayer to be a means, maybe even the means, through which he shows his power and his glory most clearly to His people.He’s designed it so that you and I would be a part of what he’s doing in this whole plan, through this means called prayer, and the design of prayer is two fold. One, we get to help. The overarching message of Luke 11:1-13 is that we have a Father in heaven who is ready to help us, who is ready to give to us. Just like a father desires to give to an earthly child, even more so does our Father in heaven want to give to us. But he’s designed it so that we get to help and he gets the glory.This is why Jesus prayed like he did all throughout the Gospels. It’s why Jesus, before he took five loaves and two fish and fed over 5,000 people, lifted up his hands and prayed. He did it in this way because he wanted the people to see that we get the help in such a way that only he gets the glory. We have the privileged of showing to this world, not that we live sacrificially in different ways because it is easy or fun. We live sacrificially, and ask God to give us everything we need. We ask him to do it in such a way that only he gets the glory. We’re walking with him, fulfilling this mission with him, and he’s providing us with everything we need. That’s why we must be a praying people, because we will show the world that only God can do what he’s doing in and through our lives. God wants the world to see a people who are completely dependent on him, in such a way that we get the help and he gets all the glory. That’s why he’s designed prayer to be what it is.Now, it’s at this point I want us to take a step back and realize that the power of prayer is useless. One of my biggest concerns is that we would walk away committed to pray more and that the end goal would be for you to pray, be more structured, or more organized in your prayers. That you would be known as a man or woman of prayer. Because if that is our end goal, then we are no different than the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, or millions of other Christians who have yet to truly, authentically connect with the living God of the universe. Even Congress prays. There is no power in prayer. If that is our goal, just to pray, then we will end up creating Christianity to be just like every other religion in the world.However, the power of people who connect with the Almighty God of the universe, that power is unstoppable. Prayer is a means by which we encounter, we connect, to the living God of the universe. It’s at that point that we will see prevailing, powerful, victorious prayer. It’s through God supplying it. It’s God’s power, not our power in prayer. It’s God’s power poured out on his people through stressing the depth of their need before Him, exploring the mystery of intimacy with him, and experiencing the power of being used by him.
Go here to read part 2 of “Power Through Prayer”.
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