Yesterday was Ascension Day, when celebrate the ascension of Jesus to the Father in heaven after His resurrection from death (Luke 24:49-51; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:3-10). I believe the ascension is one of the most-neglected aspects of the life of Jesus with greater significance for our life with God as disciples of Jesus than we usually realize.
I wrote three posts in 2018 about the importance of the ascension for our faith because of Jesus’ reign as King, Jesus’ mediation eternally, and Jesus’ future return in glory, and would encourage you to join me in considering the significance of Jesus’ ascension.
This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church we begin a teaching series entitled “Power in Prayer: Learning to Pray with St. Paul.” This series is the first of a three-part series related to our 40th anniversary as a church. Since the earliest days of Eastbrook, prayer has been profoundly important and vital to our life as a church. It was often said that we wanted to be a church that could only be explained by the power of God.
As we move forward we want that to continue to be true. We believe that prayer is the heart of what it means to live with God, live as the church, and live on mission in the world. In this series, we will explore three basic aspects of the life of prayer so that we might be rooted in life with God and bearing fruit for His kingdom.
Our Father and Our God, we praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in Your holy name, Amen.
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our new series walking through the New Testament book of Ephesians, entitled “Ephesians: A Crash Course in Basic Christianity.” This weekend, I continued with the second half of chapter 1, which offers us a “Crash Course in Knowing Christ.” This is really a prayer of Paul that unfolds for us how prayer in gratitude, intercession, and worship helps us know Christ more fully in our lives.
You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement.
Almighty God and Father,
thank You for Your everlasting love revealed in Jesus Christ,
who did not consider equality with You
something to be used to His own advantage,
but emptied Himself and took on the nature
of a servant and became human
for us and for our salvation.
Thank You that in Your infinite wisdom
this divine descent of the only begotten Son from eternity
made the way of the Cross
truly to become the pathway to abundant life.
Thank You that through His death and resurrection
the gateway to eternal life
not only brings us into Your household as children
but also seats us in the heavenly places
where He now lives and reigns with You eternally.
As we enter into true life through Him,
and we enter into Your forever family through Him,
so, too, do we find ourselves held in prayer through Him,
as He eternally intercedes for us at Your right hand,
Jesus the Messiah, ascended to glory,
the Name above all names, and our High Priest forever.
For all these blessings
beyond anything we could ask or imagine,
we thank You.
May our lives – in thought, word, and deed –
exist as living sacrifices of worship to You,
who reign with Your only Son, Jesus Christ,
and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forevermore.
As we entered into the summer of prayer here at Eastbrook this year, I wanted to do something like this with our church. Similarly to what we did with college ministry, the team working with our 24-7 Prayer room structured it around the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) as a means to organizing the room into stations at which people could pray individually or together. Each of the stations had active and reflective elements to it, allowing people of all ages to engaged physically in responding to God in some way.
The theme for July in the summer of prayer was “Praying with Others.” While I often saw clusters of people and small groups praying together in the prayer room, the prayer room could also be utilized as an individual experience of prayer. As the week continued, however, the sense of being in this with others became more and more clear as people added their own words of praise, confession, gratitude, and need to the interactive elements. I couldn’t help but think of the words in Hebrews 12:1-2:
Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus
You can see both the guiding statements for each of the four stations, as well as the interactive elements below.
Participants can participate with interactive prayer stations (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) that will encourage personal prayer, as well as create space for groups (families, life groups, etc.) to pray together. Plan to spend about an hour in the various stations.
Monastic communities have practiced the laus perennis – perpetual prayer, for centuries
During the eighteenth century, Moravians in the German village of Herrnhut prayed continually for more than 100 years. From that remarkable prayer meeting they sent out missionaries all over the world, even converting John Wesley