Pastoral Encouragement – Pray Without Ceasing – April 26, 2019

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This week we have a special guest author for our Pastoral Encouragement, Jeff Weaver.

Dear BBC Family,

Did Jesus pray like Paul instructed?

The answer to this question is an obvious “yes”, for there is no contradiction between the example of Christ and the commands and instructions of His apostles. But the purpose of the question is to help us evaluate whether we pray according to descriptive example or prescriptive command.

The centrality of prayer in the life of Christ, the life of the apostles and the life of the church is without debate. But what does faithful prayer look like in practice for individuals and the collective whole of the gathered church?

Mark 1:35 represents a common description from the gospels regarding the prayer life of Christ: “and rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

He also prayed before breaking the bread to feed the 5,000 (Mk 6:41), he prayed to His father in heaven at His baptism (Lk 3:21), he prayed alone on the night of his betrayal (Mt 26:36), and he prayed an extended intercession for His apostles, the future generations of believers and for His Father’s glory (John 17).

But as you consider the biblical standard for prayer, do you rely on particular examples of Jesus to a greater degree than stated commands? Is the example of the Acts 2 church ‘being devoted to the prayers’ your ultimate standard for BBC? In light of these descriptions, let us consider the instruction on prayer from the Apostle Paul:

Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

In other words, in all settings, circumstances, and situations, be a prayerful people. Which in fact, is exactly what Jesus taught in Luke 18:1, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

What does prayer at BBC look like?

There is Jesus, who always is interceding on behalf of His beloved, and He is praying us toward heaven and glory. At all times, let us then pray.

There are pastors/ elders in our church who labor in prayer together for our church. May we pray without ceasing.

There are women who gather every month, to pray for one another, the church, and their husbands and children. At all times, let us then pray.

There are men and women who either gather weekly and others periodically before the gathered service on Sunday morning, to pray and intercede. May we pray without ceasing.

There is a congregation who prays with their pastor, the men of the church who pray during the offering, and the worship leader in confession and the psalms, every Lord’s day. At all times, let us then pray.

There is a woman who prays over the smallest of children on Sunday, and throughout the week, with joy and hope of their salvation. Let us pray in all circumstances.

There are four brothers who join a conference call every Monday morning to pray for each other and their families. At all times, let us then pray.

There is a couple who systematically works through the membership directory, interceding for the fellow saints, our missionaries, and the ministries of the church. May we pray without ceasing.

There are countless moments of spontaneous prayer, individually offered by members of the church as the Spirit and providence prompts them.  At all times, let us then pray.

There are ministry teams who gather before Sunday service to pray for their respective ministries that day. May we pray without ceasing.

There is a brother in Christ who prays on the phone, while driving, for whomever he is talking to. Let us pray in all circumstances.

There are saints who bless the Lord before each meal. At all times, let us then pray.

There are saints who immediately pray for urgent prayer requests for our members and their loved ones. May we pray without ceasing.

There is a man who has set a goal to pray with three members every Sunday after church. At all times, let us then pray.

There are small groups who regularly gather to pray, praise, and petition the Lord for one another and the lost. May we pray without ceasing.

There is a sister in Christ who prays for our pastors, for our government, and for the lost, in her moments of solitude at home. At all times, let us then pray.

There are sisters and brothers who regularly pray for one another on any day of the week when the opportunity presents. May we pray without ceasing.

There is a church who gathers, in as much of its’ entirety as possible, every few months, to pray and to ask that God would grow us in prayer. At all times, let us then pray.

Let us reflect in two ways simultaneously:
– BBC is a church, faithful in prayer
– We fall short and can all grow in our diligence in prayer, as we consider all the ways and situations by which our body is praying and could pray more faithfully

Beloved, let us join together this Sunday in a specific gathering of corporate prayer at 9 A.M., humbly before our Lord, praising Him, confessing our sins, thankful for our salvation and interceding for our many needs and those of the world in which we live. May we also pray that He would grow us in prayer.

May we pray without ceasing, at all times in the Spirit.

In Christ alone,

Jeff Weaver

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