Tuesday, January 15th 2019

Day 8: That we would see our community with the eyes of Jesus

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34 ESV)

I doubt the massive and needy crowd would have gotten a warm reception from the hungry and exhausted disciples. Yet, Jesus sees this desperate crowd with the eyes of compassion and causes him to act. He feeds them not only the physical food of miraculous bread but also the spiritual food of teaching from heaven. Jesus’ compassion is always greater than the strength of His disciples. I’m convinced this is one reason we are sometimes guilty of turning a blind eye to the suffering within our communities—we know what will happen if we view our community with the eyes of Jesus. Seeing things with the eyes of Jesus will put us in situations of which we aren’t comfortable, it will demand things of us which we don’t have the strength for, and ultimately push us outside of ourselves. Yet, we must view our community with the eyes of Jesus.

Lord, we thank you for the compassion with which you looked upon us. We are grateful for your tender mercies to us when you would have been perfectly just to have left us in our sin. We know that you view the hapless crowd with the eyes of compassion. Lord, help us do the same. Help us to see our communities the way that you see them and to respond accordingly. May your compassion move us to action.

*Adapted from 31 days of prayer for your church

Monday, January 14th 2019

Day 8: That we would see our community with the eyes of Jesus

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34 ESV)

I doubt the massive and needy crowd would have gotten a warm reception from the hungry and exhausted disciples. Yet, Jesus sees this desperate crowd with the eyes of compassion and causes him to act. He feeds them not only the physical food of miraculous bread but also the spiritual food of teaching from heaven. Jesus’ compassion is always greater than the strength of His disciples. I’m convinced this is one reason we are sometimes guilty of turning a blind eye to the suffering within our communities—we know what will happen if we view our community with the eyes of Jesus. Seeing things with the eyes of Jesus will put us in situations of which we aren’t comfortable, it will demand things of us which we don’t have the strength for, and ultimately push us outside of ourselves. Yet, we must view our community with the eyes of Jesus.

Lord, we thank you for the compassion with which you looked upon us. We are grateful for your tender mercies to us when you would have been perfectly just to have left us in our sin. We know that you view the hapless crowd with the eyes of compassion. Lord, help us do the same. Help us to see our communities the way that you see them and to respond accordingly. May your compassion move us to action.

*Adapted from 31 days of prayer for the church

Sunday, January 13th 2019

Day 17: That we wouldn’t be satisfied with shadows

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (Colossians 2:16-19 ESV)

What would you think of me if I took my wife on a date and while eating pizza I only talked to her shadow and ignored her? Or if while watching a movie I tried cuddling up to her shadow? Or when we went out dancing I started slow dancing with her shadow? You’d think I was a nut, and rightly so. You don’t dance with shadows when the substance is right there. And yet so many Christians and churches are satisfied with shadows. We spend our time focusing on food, drink, festivals, new moons, and Sabbath’s and miss the gospel. Let us not think that what we need is asceticism, or visions, or anything of the sort. Instead may we as churches realize that we have been given the substance—Jesus Christ. No more dancing with shadows.

Father, we thank you for the gift of Your Son. In Him is Your fullness. We have everything we need in Jesus. And, yet, we confess our propensity to dance with shadows. Perhaps, given our finitude, shadows are more comfortable. Rescue us from this foolishness. Help us to not be satisfied with shadows but to actively pursue lasting enjoyment of You—our substance.

*Adapted from 31 days of prayer for the church

Saturday, January 12th 2019

Day Six: That we would receive God’s word humbly

All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2 ESV)

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 ESV)

There is a way in which a church can receive the Word which is counter-productive. It is one thing to receive the Word as a humble Berean, searching the Scriptures to see if what is being said is so. It is quite another to be an arrogant soul hiding behind the illusion of being a Berean, but in reality we are no better than a Monday-morning quarterback. In these moments we are doing what Soren Kierkegaard called “defending oneself against God’s Word”. We must hear God’s Word with a humble posture; a trembling posture which comes to grips with our own sinfulness and finitude. But also the posture of a meek lamb—desperately dependent upon the Lord to feed us. Pray today that our church would not only be passionate about mastering God’s Word but that we would be equally passionate about being Mastered by God’s Word.

Father, break us where we need broken and heal us where we need healed. We want to receive your word with humility. Every good and perfect gift comes from you and so we are dependent upon you for the blessing of truly receiving your Word. Lord, rescue us from our foolish defense of ourselves. Help us to see that because of Jesus we do not have to hide from the work of your Word. Your Word incarnate is our lone defense. May we rest in him and humbly receive the Word you’ve placed in our heart. Amen.

*Adapted from 31 days of prayer for the church

Friday, January 11th 2019

Day Five: That we would love one another deeply from the heart

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (1 Peter 1:22 ESV)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 ESV)

When we read something like “love one another deeply from the heart” our minds might be a bit too informed by Hollywood. But Hollywood doesn’t give us our best image of this “earnest love”. The word Peter uses here is the same word used of Jesus when he is praying earnestly and sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is with this type of passion and intentionality that we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. This deep love is not original with us. It is, as we read in 1:22, one which comes to us by having purified our souls. The gospel is what gives us a new heart. It is from this new heart that we are able to love each other with a love modeled for us in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Father, we thank you for your deep love for us. We thank you that you have given us new hearts which are able to love with your cruciform love. We also confess that at times our love is shallow. We are asking that you would strengthen our love for one another. Help us to love one another deeply from our Christ-purchased hearts. Give us the passion and intentionality for one another that was modeled for us in the Garden of Gethsemane.

*Adapted from 31 days of prayer for your church

Thursday, January 10th 2019

Day Four: That God’s name would be exalted through us

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (Matthew 6:9 ESV)

It has been said that your life either tells the truth about God, or it tells a lie. I suppose this same thing could be extended to the church at large. If your local church is all the outside world used to formulate a view of God, would they largely know the truth of God or a lie. I’m convinced that if anyone will exalt the name of the Lord it will be through the labors of ordinary Christians in the local church. Let us, then, live lives which accurately reflect God and His gospel. May his name be exalted through us.

Father, you are good and you are holy. We confess that at times our churches and our own lives do not accurately reflect you. Forgive us for these times. We thank you that even in our brokenness and failings we can somehow reflect you and magnify your love and grace toward us. Help our church be an accurate reflection of you. May your name be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven. Help the world, through us, to hear and see your precious gospel. Amen.

*Adapted from 31 days of prayer for your church

Wednesday, January 9th 2019

Day Three: That we would see what is true

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. –2 Kings 6:17

When Elisha’s servant woke up in the morning he discovered that he and Elisha were surrounded by the enemy. Ever feel that way? Does it ever seem like your church is being overcome by darkness rather than the other way around? Do you get discouraged by the encroaching secularism all around? If so, you understand what Elisha’s servant felt that morning.

But notice what Elisha prays for his wearied servant. “Help him see what is really there”. And with this the servant is able to see that they are surrounded by angel armies. There is nothing to fear because the Sovereign Lord is in control of history. We need Elisha’s prayer today.

Father, we feel at times like the darkness is winning. Often we can only see with our physical eyes and this discourages us. Lord, help us to believe there is much that is unseen. Help us to see what is true. Create in us a boldness based upon the reality of your Sovereign care. We know that in the end, you win. Help us to believe this as a church and to live accordingly. Help us not fear the outside world but to love them with Your love. Amen. 


*Adapted from 31 days of prayer for the church

Tuesday, January 8th 2019

Day Two: that our aim would be to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9)

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:9 ESV)

Church can be foggy. And that’s not surprising when you consider the nature of the church. God draws diverse people who are sinners into a relationship with Himself, which by necessity also puts redeemed sinners in close proximity to one another. That’s diverse people put together who are all likely at a different spot in their growth in the Lord. When these people try to make decisions together things can get foggy. The needs around us, the needs within our own body, the dreams and passions that we have for serving the Lord, the whole lot of things can create a fog. There is one thing which can clear the focus; namely, every member make it his/her life’s aim to please God. Focus there and the fog has a tendency to lift.

Father, we thank you for your work of drawing diverse peoples to yourself. And yet we are broken people, living in a broken world, who are being redeemed by you. We acknowledge that we are still sinners and as such when we relate to one another things can sometimes get foggy. Lord, help it to be our aim to please you. No matter where we find ourselves serving within your church help our singular aim be your pleasure. Thank you that your ultimate pleasure in us has already been satisfied at the Cross. Help us live out what you’ve already purchased. Amen.

*Adapted from 31 days of prayer for the church