As I’ve mentioned previously, I have the great privilege of being a regular blogger at The Gospel Life blog. The most recent series of blog posts there is entitled “Leading with the Gospel,” and looks at what several writers view as essential aspects of leading a local church with an evangelistic edge. I wrote a post that appeared yesterday entitled “Prayer and the Holy Spirit,” which I’m including an excerpt from below:
When the first followers of Jesus heard His instructions that we know as the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:7-8), their immediate response was to wait in two distinct ways. Their waiting reminds us of two vital aspects of the vibrant ministry evangelism within our lives personally and for the local church.
The Importance of Waiting in Prayer
Returning from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples gather together in the upper room. It is a different upper room gathering than Jesus’ instruction before His death. Instead, it is the upper room prayer gathering where “they all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14a). Before they went out to proclaim good news, and before they went to make disciples, and before they ever left Jerusalem in the concentric circles of widening missions, the disciples simply waited before God in prayer.
As Christians, we are called to be active in our faith, including having an active proclamation of the good news in Jesus Christ. But for us today the principle is still the same: prayer precedes power in evangelism. Whether as individuals or as churches, the fuel for evangelism comes as we wait upon God in prayer.
[Read the rest of the blog post here.]
You might also enjoy reading the rest of this series of posts on “Leading with the Gospel” by authors including Lon Allison, Chris Castaldo, Paco Amador, Sam Kim, and more.
This week we focus on praying for the persecuted church. Perhaps you could take 3 minutes to watch this video from the World Evangelical Alliance highlighting the plight of religious persecution and the opportunity of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Throughout our “God at Work” series at Eastbrook, we concluded every service with the following prayer of benediction. I thought I’d share it as a prayer that we could all use in our daily life with work.
O Lord, our God, Creator and Ruler of the universe,
You have made us in Your image and for Your delight.
We give You thanks for giving us the gift of work,
which reflects our privileged place as co-workers with You in this, Your world.
As we go forth from this gathering, grant us Your power and grace
to perform the work You have given us with wisdom, diligence, joy and love.
Provide what we most need in our difficulties with work,
and remove any idols that rise up in our daily lives at work.
Help us, in whatever we do, to work at it with all our heart,
as working for You and not just earthly masters.
May our work bring growth in this life both to us and to those we love,
as well as reflect Your Kingdom and bring You glory.
Bless us now, Lord, to seek You and serve You in our entire lives,
For You are the God who is at work in us, through us, and around us.
We pray these things in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the fourth part of our series, “One Church.” This week we looked at John 17:20-26.
- What do you think are the greatest hindrances to unity, no matter the setting?
- This weekend in our series, “One Church,” we are exploring John 17, with specific attention on verses 20-26. Take some time to pray, asking God to clearly speak to you; then read John 17 aloud.
- John 17 is sometimes called Jesus’ high priestly prayer. This is because we find Jesus directly talking with His Father in prayer about the heart of His ministry right before going to the sacrifice upon the Cross. What are some of the main things Jesus prays about in John 17?
- There are three major sections in Jesus’ prayer here: 1) Jesus’ prayer for true glory; 2) Jesus’ prayer for His disciples; and 3) Jesus’ prayer for future believers. When you consider Jesus’ prayer for the believers in the future – which includes us today – what does this make you think about or feel?
- Themes of unity abound in these few sentences of prayer. In verses 21 and 23 what would you say is the fundamental unity Jesus says is the basis for unity amongst believers? Why is this significant?
- What do you think Jesus means by saying, “I have given them the glory that you gave me” (17:22)? What sort of glory do we receive as disciples of Jesus?
- In verses 21 and 23, what Jesus says there will be certain results – or aftereffects – of believers entering into the unity Jesus prays about. What are those results?
- Have you ever experienced disunity in God’s people? Have you seen it impact the effectiveness or fruitfulness of God’s mission in the world? What happened? If applicable, how was this disunity resolved?
- What is one way in which you feel specifically impressed to pray for unity in your own life or the life of the church? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about these things together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone.
It is great to talk about unity but how do we really achieve it?
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our “One Church” series by exploring that question through Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17. In my message this weekend, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity,” I specifically looked at John 17:20-26, where Jesus prays for the future believers, like us, to be one. My main point is that prayer is the pathway to unity and without prayer we will not achieve unity as believers.
You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.
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