Father, we stand in awestruck wonder before your holiness this morning. Thank you for the abundant grace you have shown us in Christ Jesus. Father, we rejoice in thanksgiving this today as we remember you steadfast love. In times of our wandering, you have been faithful to shepherd us back to you and to your church. We praise you Father, the God of perfect justice who seeks justice that rolls down like mighty waters. Thank you for the ever-flowing righteousness of Christ through whom you have shown us mercy upon mercy. Father, you are holy. You are are mighty. You are abundantly good. Great is your name and greatly to be praised. Amen.
Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out our transgressions. Wash us thoroughly from our iniquity and cleanse us from our sin. Open our eyes so we can see our sins clearly, so we can realize that our sins are against you and you alone. We confess our pride in thinking that we know better than you. We believe our ways are the best ways, instead of trusting in your ways, your merciful and gracious plans for our lives. We confess that we believe we deserve your mercy and grace in salvation of our lives because of our good deeds and actions instead of recognizing the depths of our own sin and depravity. Forgive us for seeking to build our own kingdoms rather than seeking to build your kingdom. It is only through your grace on our lives that saves us and continues to change us to become more and more like Christ, day by day. There is nothing good within ourselves or in our actions apart from the fruit of the Holy Spirit because we are sinful from birth, even from the moment of conception. Only if you purge us and wash us shall we be clean and whiter than snow. Hide your face from our sins and blot out our iniquities. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us. Cast us not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from us. Restore to us the joy of your salvation and uphold us with a willing spirit. Thank you for drawing us to yourself and for forgiving our sins through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thank you for the Holy Spirit living in us as our helper and for promising to transform us into your likeness as we behold your glory.
Father, we come to you this morning pleading with you to hallow your great name. Cause your name to be treasured, cherished, revered, honored, esteemed, respected and admired. Yes, Lord God Almighty, fill the world with your glory; magnify the beauty, person, work and worth of Jesus Christ.
From the poor in Bangladesh to the rich in Los Angles exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Advance the gospel in and through the half-million Bania people of India and the Chhetri in Bhutan. Raise up men and women from this church to take your gospel message to those who have never heard the gospel message.
We also pray that you would save our enemies. We pray that your glory would overwhelm the leaders and members of ISIS, Al Queda, and Boko Haram. All powerful Lord, you have the power bind the dark spiritual forces at work, and we ask that you will. We ask that you would not just restrain evil, but save these men and women and use them to advance your gospel. Just like you did with the apostle Paul, take great church persecutors and turn them into great church planters.
We pray for peace in places like Syria and Central African Republic. By your sovereign rule, establish stable governments that enforce laws without partiality. We pray for peace and comfort in Nepal. By your gracious aid, keep humanitarian aid workers safe, and provide material goods to meet the physical needs of the hurting. Father, we also pray for the events unfolding in Baltimore. We pray, in the name of Jesus, for the end of racism and ethnic hatred. Give government officials and police officers and first responders wisdom and impartiality to faithfully perform their duties. Give citizens a deep longing for reconciliation and help them pursue peaceful means to bring about that reconciliation. We pray for our brother Joel as he labors to pastor in the midst of this turmoil. Use The Garden Church to be a beacon of gospel hope in the midst of such a trying and troubling situation.
Father, we pray for our church; that we too would be a place of hope and healing; a place that takes sin seriously, but always in light of our great Savior Jesus Christ. Give us a deep and abiding love for one another; grant us Spirit-filled unity; make us eager to serve our church body. Display your manifold wisdom as we speak and live out the gospel in front of a watching world.
We pray all of this in the all-supreme, all-sufficient name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our brother Deholo serves Restoration Church in many ways, not the least of which is his focus on and energy given to prayer. To help equip us to pray biblically, he developed a Handbook on Biblical Prayer; the Introduction is below. Download it and use it. Seek the face of God for the hallowing of His name in Christ Jesus.
This handbook intentionally includes few personal remarks. It goes straight to Bible passages intended to help personal and corporate prayer. Questions related to prayer are also provided to motivate meditation on the Bible. Attempt has been made to direct readers to prayer focuses which may not seem urgent at first glance, but which are cumulatively important to God in the Bible.
In the context of corporate prayer, readers may individually select a question and an associated Bible passage to pray through. Thus, the handbook has the potential to help keep prayers diverse and biblically focused for extended periods of time. Couples and parents may find aspects of the handbook useful for times of family prayer. Elders may find portions of the handbook helpful to pray for church members under their care. Music leaders may find sections of the handbook useful to call people to worship through prayer.
I have, too many times, found myself wondering what I could ask God for members of my local church whom I did not know well. Asking them for felt needs has been helpful. This handbook includes additional biblical suggestions to answer this important question. The handbook points readers to the Bible through which God calls people from all nations to pray. While a teenager, I typically prayed less than twenty minutes per week! This usually happened at church on Sunday. By God’s grace, I have spent time with physically impaired but spiritually vigorous elderly Christians whose example I seek to follow, as they have followed our Prayer General: Jesus the Christ. Those who have influenced me most with respect to prayer were elderly ladies. One notable exception is the first person who discipled me: pastor Franky Narcisse. He has taught me both to love God passionately through prayer and to labor with Christ through prayer. I seek, in this handbook, to document the biblical foundation of his teaching to me. For God’s glory and the benefit of God’s flock under his care, Franky Narcisse has prayed biblically, week after week, for years, and has challenged me (among many) to pray biblically.
It is important to understand that the Bible is more important than any book on prayer and this document is only a point-form synthesis of the subject matter. Prayer is biblical in so far as it depends on God’s word as overruling authority to discover His will. Biblical prayer also depends on God Himself to produce in our hearts loving hunger for His glory to shine and His will to be done.
All we do, including prayer, ought to be done for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). Since God is sovereign (2 Chronicles 20:6), the accomplishment of His will does not depend on the prayers of His creatures. However, God uses prayer to accomplish His purposes, in and through His children’s life. God works in our hearts to genuinely desire His will (Philippians 2:12-13), pray for His will (Matthew 6:13), see Him accomplish His will (2 Chronicles 7:14) and praise Him as a result (Psalm 86:7-8). Through biblical prayer, God increases our appreciation and appetite for His purposes. Through biblical prayer, God sanctifies our hearts, minds, souls and bodies, as we persevere in our dependence on Him for life and ministry. Through biblical prayer, God transforms us into faithful and fervent worshipers who thirst for communion with Him: the supreme love of our lives. Through biblical prayer, God cultivates overflowing joy and gratitude in our hearts, as we witness His amazing answers to our petitions. Through biblical prayer, God grants us the privilege of communing with the three members of the Trinity, as we address the Father, in the name of the Son, by the Holy Spirit.
May God be glorified through our prayers, as they reflect God’s will presented in the Bible.
Are you born again? In his April 19 message, Nathan used the text of Matthew 7:21 to 23 consider this question. There Jesus asserts he will say he “never knew” many who did “mighty works” in His name. Nathan closed noting, “For some of you, you are wondering if that is you…you are wondering which camp/pen you are in: With the Sheep or with the Goats?”
Said another way, can you know if you really love God or if you just think you do? Nathan turned to J.C. Ryle, a great English preacher of the 19th Century, for questions that can direct our minds in this consideration.
Thus, for your consideration, here are these questions to ponder, as paraphrased by Nathan. We pray they would prompt greater reliance on Christ!
- Do you like to think about Him?
- Do you like to hear about Him?
- Do you like to read about Him?
- Do you love the Lord’s Friends? That is, do you love the church…the people He gave His life for?
- Do you love the Honor of Jesus? Do you revel in it, want it to be seen and advanced?
- Do you love to talk to Jesus?
- Do you love the Lord and Do you desire to obey Him?
- Finally: Would you love to be with Jesus?
Holy Father, Great and Mighty is Your Name…and Greatly are you to be feared…and yet we don’t. We fear others much more than we fear you…we fear job loss, social rejection, and unmet desires more than we fear you.
The same tongue that confesses you Lord and Father, is the same one that curses our fellow man…possibly even brother, sister, husband, or wife. Oh, God this should not be.
We are so consumed with our world, we dance upon the precipice of conforming to the patterns of this world and still say that we hold passports to the Kingdom of Heaven, yet how little do our hearts actually long to be there.
Vacations, degrees, jobs, relationships, houses amid a thousand other things…these are the things that tug at the strings of our hearts…they are the loves that lead us more than our love for you.
So, what are we to do, Father? We confess that we fear others more than we fear you…we confess and curse others while also using the same tongue to praise you…we confess we are enamored with the world when we are to be enamored with the Kingdom…we confess we love this fleeting Kingdom more than the Kingdom of heaven. What hope do we have? To whom shall we go for relief? The Load is far too heavy for us to bear. No work….no good deed…no good intentions could ever teach our hearts to cast off the lure of this fleeting world…we are desperate. We know our sickness and we realize we cannot manufacture a cure.
So we reach, this morning, we reach for the Great Physician…Christ the Lord. In Him and Him alone is our hope. There is no other foundation upon which our lives can be built and succeed than on the Rock of Christ Jesus…He is the Fount of Living Water, He is the Bread of Life, He is the True Vine, the Shepherd of the Sheep, the Bright and Morning Star, the Shadow from the Heat, The Prince of our Peace, The Way, The Truth, and The Life, The King of Glory…and in light of our Sin we are amazed most of all, that we can call Him….friend.
We rejoice that you take sinners and mold them into saints by your grace and for your glory.
Forgive us, Lord for our foolish hearts that are so prone to wander, so prone to leave the God we love. Thank you for the blood and suffering of Christ that makes it possible for us to humbly approach your throne and receive Grace and Mercy in our time of need. Oh, what a salvation…what a God! Train our hearts like we would a vine to grow up into you…give us patience as we so ruthlessly try and cling to the earth.
Train those here in our city that have set their face against you to be at peace with you. Our friends, our neighbors, co-workers, our bosses, and our enemies…for the sake of your glorious Name…would you reveal to them the deceitfulness of sin and the honesty of Christ…would you show them a better way…with better hopes and better loves than the ones they currently possess?
Give opportunities to us this week to be Ambassadors of Christ to those people…give us courage to speak boldly…make our feet the blessed feet that brings good news to the poor, the orphan, and the widow.
Father…the throngs mourn in Nepal today. May your people stream to the destruction and bring beauty for ashes…may many of your people come and weep with those that are weeping and give food to those that need it…water for those that need it…homes for those that need it…hope for the many who most certainly need it. God we pray MERCY…mercy on those who continue to endure suffering…MERCY on those who have lost family, friends, brothers/sisters, aunts/uncles…please, God…BRING YOUR SON that Earth quakes would be no more…that wars, beheadings, rape, abortions, and starvation will be done away with.
Grant wisdom and fruit to R and E as they care for refugees in N. Iraq that have fled all of these things…give them abilities in language that far outweigh their training and grant them conversations that will lead to many other conversations that will lead to life and peace for many that have fled there.
And here, in our own city we pray for those who will gather today to herald the Gospel…All Nations, Washington International, Pillar DC, NCC, Grace DC…may they…may we be united in the Gospel that many might come to know the greatness of Christ.
We pray for S, W & L, C & J, H & L, N, and G. May they bring hope to the hopeless this week and may they gather with us here so that peace might come upon them and they might forever know the splendor of your glorious Name.
We can have many troubles in this life. It can rain down physical illness and disease; we can be flooded with unfavorable circumstances; the winds of spiritual attacks can beat against our soul. And many times these temporary trials and tribulations will reveal the foundation of our life.
For example, if Christ is my rock and foundation, it’s not the end of the world if I fail to live up to my own moral standards, or if someone takes advantage of me, or if my bank account shrinks, or if my career doesn’t develop as I’d hoped, or if my relationship status never becomes what I desire.
Sure I might be disappointed and upset, but I know that God is a good Father that gives good gifts to his children. So I look back to the cross remembering what Jesus has done for me, giving up his life for me. And I look forward to heaven remembering this world is not my home, I’m merely passing through.
This changes me. I’m no longer controlled by my reputation, by money, or power; I’m not controlled by my own morality. When Christ is my foundation, my shame and guilt melt under the grace of the cross because I recognize Jesus was shamed and found guilty for me. With my feet on the rock of Christ and eyes toward the reality of heaven, I’m freed to hold lightly to the things of this world and to not take myself too seriously; this frees me to serve others, even those who wrong me.
But if money is my foundation and this is my ultimate home, I can no longer serve people and use money. No, I have to serve money and use people; this is as good as it gets and I’ve got to get it will the getting is good. But even when I do get those things money can buy, I realize soon enough the luster begins to fade. So I’m stuck in a spiral always chasing never catching that which truly satisfies.
Or if my foundation is my spouse, and I look to him or her for complete satisfaction, it might work out for a little bit. But soon enough my spouse will let me down, probably because the weight I’m putting on him or her will crush them. In that moment, my foundation washes away right from under me.
Or if my foundation is my own morality, when I’m just awesome, I tend to be prideful looking down on others. But eventually I’ll mess up and let myself down, and I’ll be crushed. The very thing I put my hope into, has been wiped away.
So, to help you reveal the foundation of your life, here are some questions to ponder:
- What occupies your mind when you have nothing else to think about?
- What is that person or thing that you are most fearful of losing?
- After a hard day or in a moment of despair, where do you consistently run for comfort?
- Ask yourself this: “Is there something I desire so much I’m willing to hurt others and/or disobey God to get it?”
- Complete this statement: “I would be happy and fulfilled if only [fill in the blank]”?
- Do I feel that God loves me more or less based on what I do or don’t do?
These questions can begin to reveal the foundation of your life, where you’re putting your hope and trust. Now to be clear the answer to those questions may not be bad in of themselves. A job isn’t necessarily bad. Desiring and having a spouse isn’t necessarily wrong. Watching TV or eating good food is not inherently sinful. Money by itself is not evil. Closer to home for me, desiring a healthy church can be good thing. Wanting to be moral is fine and good.
However, when we begin to place our ultimate hope in these things that’s where it starts to go wrong. A good thing that becomes an ultimate thing becomes a bad thing; or we could say a “sand” thing.
 These questions come from a variety of sources and my own thoughts.
“I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly wouldn’t recommend Christianity.”
“It is inconceivable that we could be bored in a world with so much wrong to tackle.