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Monday, August 23, 2010

A Prayer for the Church

My wife Jill always says, "When you can't sleep, that means you should pray." My sleep patterns have been messed up since a recent sickness threw them off, so rather than lying there thinking about the rest I'm not getting, I thought I would pray for the church and record it here so it could possibly be a blessing to others as well...

"Dear Lord, thank you for the church for which your Son Jesus died. It really is a great idea: a spiritual family to meet the needs that are left unmet by our fallen, broken physical families. And even though Your original intent for your body has so often been 'lost in translation' in the hands of fallen, broken people like us, it still endures as an instrument of Your grace in so many lives. And even our weakness is a part of Your Divine plan to show that the adequacy in gospel ministry does not come from ourselves, but from the One who deserves all the glory for all good things that happen.

"Please light a fire of love for You and others in our hearts by your Holy Spirit, and fan the flames by Your means of grace--the Word, prayer, service, fellowship, and the sacraments. May we comprehend the height, depth, width, and breath of the love of Christ for us, and may that love compel us to conduct the ministry of reconciliation by calling others to be reconciled to God. May we all be 'Great Commission' believers by exalting You in worship, evangelizing the lost, enfolding new people into the body, and edifying and equipping them by the ministry of the Word, so they can become 'Great Commission' believers also.

"Please help us to remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing...that the gospel of grace in Christ is 'of first importance,' as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3. Keep us from allowing the gospel to be eclipsed in the church by other, less important issues, even ones that are found in the Bible but are not as clear and central as the gospel itself. May our perspectives on important issues like worship, education, counseling, and historical systems of theology never become so important that the identity of the church is bound up in them or we cannot fellowship together with others whose perspectives are different. And please, please don't let extra-biblical matters like music styles, physical appearance, and personality differences drive a wedge between us or keep anyone from coming to learn about Christ with us.

"May we ask not what our community can do for us, but what we can do for our community, and even for the world outside our community. May we freely and cheerfully give our time, talents, treasure, and yes even our very selves to anyone and everyone we have the opportunity to help. Help us to 'reverse the curse' of selfism and materialism in the places where we live by being models of giving rather than getting, both as individuals and as a corporate body of believers. In each situation may we always ask the question 'How can I serve?' rather than 'What can I gain from this?' And may we do this with joyful hearts, so that the people around us can see the truth of Jesus' maxim, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive."

We pray all these things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!

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