You Alone Can Help Us

Concert of Prayer

In thinking about this month’s Concert of Prayer on Sunday night at 6:00 PM, I got quasi-inspired and wrote the following:

You Alone Can Help Us

To the tune of “You Alone Can Rescue”

Who, O Lord, will pray with me
Storm the throne of grace
Bring to You our many needs
In simple hope and faith

Who, O Lord, will heed the call
To ask and seek and knock
Who, O Lord, will join the cause
To plead for your dear flock

You alone can help us
You alone can save
You alone can loose our binding chains
If we do not ask You, we will not have from You
Free us from our self-reliant ways

Who, O Lord, will pray with me
Come in Jesus’ name
Who, O Lord, will use this means
Promote the Savior’s fame

Who, O Lord, will feel the need
Souls lost near and far
Who, O Lord, will make the plea
Melt the scarred and hardened heart

You alone can help us
You alone can save
You alone can free the captive slaves
When you answer for us, we will bless and thank You
We’ll glory in your kind and giving ways
We’ll glory in your kind and giving ways

Bridge

We call on Your name
We call on Your name
You’re the Giver of gifts
We call on Your name
We call on Your name
You’re the Giver of gifts

Hoping for a number of intercessors to do all of the above each and every time we call a time of corporate prayer.

Praying Without Ceasing

pray without ceasing

This morning’s message, “The Jewelry of Grace,” from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

Following the service, someone approached me about the sermon. She called the yearly emphasis on prayer “inspiring” and “overwhelming.” I appreciated the honesty and vulnerability. Then she asked me if I could recommend any practical resources by way of follow up that might help with making prayer as a spiritual discipline more real in her life. I did and actually lent her the book from my library.

That got me thinking today about the best books on prayer I have read and their value to me. I don’t mean to imply that other resources don’t exist that perhaps equal or even outstrip these in value. But these have meant a lot to me.

Paul Miller’s A Praying Life. The final section where he gets down to the nitty gritty about making prayer practical has numerous helpful suggestions. It was this book I spoke of above.

E. M. Bounds’ Power Through Prayer. For an inspirational resource on prayer, this can hardly be beat.

D. A. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformati0n. Carson examines the prayers of the Apostle Paul as a template for praying specific, biblical prayers as a follower of Jesus.

Dick Eastman’s The Hour That Changes the World. The author explains how to spend an hour alone with God without it feeling like the time will never pass.

Andrew Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer. A classic. Enough said.

John Piper’s A Hunger for God. This is the best treatment on prayer and fasting I have ever read.

R. J. Short’s, The Diary of George Muller. For a biography of a praying man, this will convict and inspire.

Jason Mandryk’s Operation World. No Christian with a global heart for God and missions should be without this definitive prayer guide for the nations.

I certainly have read my share of books on prayer. Now if I will only learn actually to pray more.

In Prayer

This Sunday I continue my series of New Year’s messages, Lord willing, beginning a two-part sermon on prayer from Luke 11:1-13 entitled With Christ in the School of Prayer.

By way of reflection in preparation for this Lord’s Day, I offer you this Puritan prayer from the Valley of Vision collection:

O Lord, in prayer I launch far out into the eternal world, and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs over all evils on the shores of mortality. Time, with its gay amusements and cruel disappointments never appears so inconsiderate as then.

In prayer I see myself as nothing; I find my heart going after Thee with intensity, and long with vehement thirst to live to Thee. Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit that speed me on my way to the New Jerusalem.

In prayer all things here below vanish, and nothing seems important but holiness of heart and the salvation of others.

In prayer all my worldly cares, fears, anxieties disappear, and are of as little significance as a puff of wind.

In prayer my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts at what Thou art doing for Thy church, and I long that Thou shouldest get Thyself a great name from sinners returning to Zion.

In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life, and taste heavenly joys; entering into the eternal world I can give myself to Thee with all my heart, to be Thine for ever.

In prayer I can place all my concerns in Thy hands, to be entirely at Thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own.

In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers, sinners, the church, Thy kingdom to come, with greatest freedom, ardent hopes, as a son to his father, as a lover to the beloved.

Help me to be all prayer and never to cease praying.

The Need for “Frontline” Prayer

That’s what one writer calls concerted prayer for the cause of the revival of true religion among God’s people. It normally includes intercession for three things to see God move by His Spirit across a church and/or region:

  1. For grace to confess sins and humble ourselves.
  2. For a compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church and reaching of the lost.
  3. For a yearning to know God, to glimpse His face, and see His glory.

For these things and more we will pray this Sunday evening in our monthly concert of prayer from 6 to 7:30 PM in the conference room at the church. Dear ones, these precious realities will not likely come our way unless we earnestly ask, seek, and knock at the throne of grace for God to bring them.

My challenge in 2013 is that we zero in on praying for these precise things in our private prayer times and our corporate ones. Also, may I ask that each of our households make it a goal that someone from the family would attend at least one of our monthly concerts of prayer?

There is power when God’s people come together to pray!

The Highest Charity

I opted to preach from Hebrews 13:4 for my wedding sermon last Friday night.

Let marriage be held in honor among all.

The context at the end of chapter 12 urges the reader to offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, since He is a consuming fire. Presumably the bullet points at the top of chapter 13 spell out what that looks like in all kinds of ways, like esteeming marriage as an honorable estate.

But for this post, my attention turns to the first thing on the writer’s list in Hebrews 13:1 – Let brotherly love continue.

Now I can think of a host of specifics which flesh that out in the everyday covenant commitments among followers of Jesus, but none perhaps more virtuous than that of intercessory prayer.

J. C. Ryle, in a tract entitled A Call to Prayer, comments:

This is the highest charity. He loves me best who loves me in his prayers. This is for our soul’s health. It enlarges our sympathies and expands our hearts. This is for the benefit of the church. The wheels of all machinery for extending the gospel are moved by prayer. They do as much for the Lord’s cause who intercede like Moses on the mount, as they do who fight like Joshua in the thick of the battle. This is to be like Christ. He bears the names of his people, as their High Priest, before the Father. Oh, the privilege of being like Jesus! This is to , be a true helper to ministers. If I must choose a congregation, give me a people that pray.

This morning in our weekly prayer/staff meeting six of us prayed through the Tuesday group on the OGC prayer/directory call list. Am I ever glad we did.

Is it time to dust off your copy of that sheet with all those names and phone numbers? Why not lay a little charity of the highest form tomorrow on the J through Ms?

And then just keep on rolling through the rest of the week and beyond so that love of the brethren might continue in our precious flock.

Another Way to Stimulate Our Prayer Lives

Someone shared a website with me where you can submit your email to receive daily prayers that utilize the Bible in the first person. The purpose of the site, edited by Ligon Duncan and others, is to encourage, promote and assist biblical prayer.

For example, I received this copy today:

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you or in comparison with you. When my flesh and my heart fail, Lord, be the strength of my heart and my portion forever, Psalm 73:25-26(ESV) the chosen portion of my inheritance in the other world and of my cup in this; and then I will say that the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, and that I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6(ESV)
Your name and remembrance are the desire of my soul; my soul yearns for you in the night, and my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. Isaiah 26:8-9(ESV)
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God; my soul thirsts for God, for the living God, Psalm 42:1-2(ESV) who commands his steadfast love by day, and at night his song is with me; a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8(ESV)
O that I may come hungering and thirsting after righteousness, Matthew 5:6(ESV) for you fill the hungry with good things, but the rich you send away empty. Luke 1:53(ESV)
O that my soul may thirst for you, and my flesh faint for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water; that I may see your power and glory, as I have looked upon you in the sanctuary. Your steadfast love is better than life; Psalm 63:1-3(ESV) my soul will be satisfied with that as with fat and rich food, and then my mouth will praise you with joyful lips. Psalm 63:5(ESV)

The site is called Matthew Henry’s Method of Prayer. Click on here and sign up for your daily email and begin personally praying the Scriptures back to God. You will find these prayers a great encouragement to your abiding in Christ!