Pastor Page March 2021
In Lent, we are called back to the basics of our faith. It is a season to give up those things that prevent us from following the Lord fully. It is also a time to pick up those practices that focus our lives on the Lord and doing His will. One of those practices is prayer. To pray—to truly pray— means ridding ourselves of distractions and focus on the Lord—speaking our heart to God and listening for His response.
Prayer has been on my heart lately. It is one thing we can do while socially distanced, and yet it binds our hearts as the Holy Spirit unites us under the headship of Christ. Prayer is an activity that Jesus taught His disciples, and He urged them all to pray.
Prayer gives power and direction to our witness and ministry. It builds us up and prepares us for the work ahead. Prayer molds us.
I was reminded of that easily when I spoke with Mark Burd of Revive Ohio. We were speaking before meeting with local pastors in the hopes of launching Revive Hardin. We have been praying for revival and renewal and were hoping to start teaching local Christians to use their gifts to advance the kingdom here.
I was thinking we need more prayer before we begin our work. A couple of other pastors had shared their hearts with me and said similar things. As I spoke with Pastor Burd, he said, “Pastor [he always calls me pastor], I’m thinking we need to begin with prayer before we do anything else. I laughed as I told him what I had been thinking and where others felt equally led.
It came to mind what Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote: “And in movements of the Spirit the first thing that happens and which eventually leads to a great revival is that one man or a group of men suddenly begin to feel this burden and they feel the burden so much that they are led to do something about it” (Revival [Crossway, 1987], p. 163). We are feeling burdened to pray and are calling pastors to pray.
This is not anything new as every great movement in the Church throughout over 2,000 years of history has been preceded by prayer as can be seen from the extended quote that follows:
It has been over one hundred years since the last great move of God occurred in our nation. It was in 1857 and 1858 that a movement of prayer led to one mil-lion people becoming Christ-followers from a population of only thirty million in our nation. This movement of prayer was begun in New York City by a layperson named Jeremiah Lanphier. After failing to minister effectively to the immigrants in his church’s neighborhood, he was moved to pray.
At noon on Sept. 23, 1857, in the Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street in New York City, Lanphier knelt alone. Before 1 p.m. six men joined him. Within a month, 100 men joined him daily. Soon, thousands of men began to pray each day at noon around New York City.
This resulted in one million Americans coming to Christ within a two-year span, as well as another one million converted to Christ in Great Britain and Ireland. The church was revived. Christians were never the same. The fires of evangelism were burning brightly. The advance of the gospel to the nations of the world was profound. Men like David Livingstone
and J. Hudson Taylor, and eventually the Student Volunteer Movement, saw twenty thousand young people surrender their lives to missions. Additional- ly, these great movements of God impacted renowned men of history like Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody and William Booth.
Great movements of God begin with prayer
Ronnie Floyd, Guest Column
December 29, 2014, Biblical Recorder (www.brnow.org)
Even when it feels as though there is nothing else we can do, we can pray. As Psalm 27:14 states, we need to “Wait for the Lord.” However, this is not some passive experience. As the rest of the verse reminds us, prayer is the source of our strength and courage: “be strong, and let your heart take courage.” The verse concludes as it began: “wait for the Lord!”
Why do we wait? To hear—to truly hear—the heart of our Father as it is whispered by the Spirit in the depths of our being. What is whispered into our souls? It is the very mission of Christ. We are commissioned to share the Gospel with the world, but we are not called to do this work alone. Christ joins with us and works alongside us. We are co- laborers with Christ (I Corinthians 3:9). Jesus puts the co in commission.
Throughout the sermon series on Micah, I have shared the slide to the right. All our work for the kingdom of God has as its foundation prayer. Building on that, we minister to others who need the gift of salvation in Christ. Every other step entails building up believers and pre- paring them to continue the ministry of Christ by calling others into a restored relationship with the Father through the Son and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Even in the best of times, it can seem like a daunting task. People feel awkward sharing their faith at times. To many
Christians, talking about Jesus to others (especially un- churched people) seems unnatural, and yet, that is our main mission. In days like these, the task seems even harder as we are asked to keep socially-distanced and to not gather in groups.
And yet, our calling remains. We have felt the weight of isolation and a lost year upon our shoulders. Those with- out a faith in Christ have felt that burden more acutely as it threatens to crush them. And we have the remedy for what ails them. We can help them exchange their burden for the yoke of Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).
So, yes, the task is harder in some ways, but it is also more needed than it has been in times past. How can we keep this Good News to ourselves? If we are faithful, we cannot. So, if you are not ready to start sharing the Gos-
pel or offering to pray with people in stores, shops, and at gas pumps, you can pray. Pray alone, pray with your fam- ily, pray with small groups, or come early or stay late on Sundays and let us pray together.
Pray for wisdom (James 1:5). Pray for guidance. Pray for strength and courage. Just pray and pray and pray…and then pray some more. That is our work and foundation, so let us pray as we journey through Lent.
With love and faith and service,