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GBC Core Values: Part Two

November 12, 2014 admin

Written by: Josh Mathews

The five Core Values of Gresham Bible Church are:

Knowing God deeply in his word

Praying fervently for God’s purposes in the world

Making God known by spreading the gospel locally and globally

Fostering unity and building up the body through genuine community

Expressing a growing love for Jesus in a life of worship

In the first post in this series we introduced these core values and looked more closely at the first one, Knowing God deeply in his word. In today’s post we’ll consider Core Value number 2, Praying fervently for God’s purposes in the world.

Core Value #2: Praying fervently for God’s purposes in the world.

At GBC we want to be a church body that is increasingly characterized by prayer. There are several reasons prayer is an important part of the Christian life and the life of the church.

First, Scripture instructs us to pray. In Luke 18 Jesus tells a parable of a widow who repeatedly and persistently pleaded with her city’s judge to give her justice against her adversary. After ignoring her request at first, the judge eventually gave in to her requests. Luke tells us that Jesus used this parable to teach his disciples “that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Many other verses instruct us to pray; for example, Rom 12:12, Eph 6:18, Phil 4:6, Col 4:2, 1 Thess 5:17.

Prayer is important because the Bible commands us to pray.
Prayer acknowledges our dependence on God. We don’t control our lives and the circumstances we are facing. That is why we pray. In 1 Chronicles 14 we find a clear example of one of Judah’s kings, Asa, relying on the Lord and praying. A massive army from Ethiopia has come out against Judah, and Asa and his army are drastically overmatched. Asa cries out to the Lord, praying,

“Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude.”

 And the Lord delivers them from their enemy.
Prayer is important because it is a contrite confession of need and dependence on God.
Prayer is an expression of faith in who God is, a recognition of  his character. When we pray it means we believe that God is powerful and able to answer our prayers, that he is wise to know what is best, and that he is loving and good to care for us and do what is best for his glory and for our good (Rom 8:28). In Asa’s prayer, before he asks for help and voices his reliance on the Lord, he begins his prayer with this declaration about God’s character:

“O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak.”  
Prayer is important because it is a trusting acknowledgement of God’s character.

Prayer is a means by which the Lord accomplish his purposes, in our lives, in the church, and in the world. In Acts the early church is repeatedly described as devoted to prayer (e.g. 1:14; 2:42; 6:4). These fervent prayers are what the Lord uses to empower the rapid and miraculous expansion of the church and God’s kingdom throughout the rest of Acts.

In his book, Power through Prayer, E. M. Bounds says this:

“What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.”  
Prayer is important because God uses it to work in and through his people in the world.

There are many other things we could say about the importance of prayer. I’ll conclude this post with one point of clarification and a few practical ways we might make prayer more prominent in our lives.

When we pray, our prayers should include more than just requests. We tend to think of prayer as asking God to help us or give us something. However, the prayers we see throughout Scripture include praise, thanksgiving, and confession, along with supplication, or request. The Psalms provide numerous examples of all these different aspects of prayer. David often cries out to God to deliver him from his enemies. Yet, surrounding these requests and pleas for help, the psalms are filled with praise and thanksgiving for who God is and what he’s done for his people, along with confession of sin as well. And in Paul’s letters, his prayers typically begin with thankfulness for the good things the Lord is accomplishing.

So what kinds of things can we be doing? How, practically, can we grow, individually and corporately as a church, in the area of prayer?

Come to prayer meeting on Sunday mornings at 9:30. A group of us meet for prayer every Sunday morning in the room on the end of the west hall at Dexter McCarty.

Have a plan for prayer. The prayer bookmarks, which are available on the information table, are a good tool for this. On one side of the bookmark is a brief template for prayer based on the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6, along with a few references to other passages on prayer. The other side gives space to write out a plan, listing certain things or people to pray for on each day.

Use the church directory. It is a good tool for praying systematically for others in the church. Also, there are some tools in the front of the directory that give good examples for how to pray. One benefit of these examples is that they emphasize praying for people’s spiritual health, which helps us avoid the tendency to pray only for physical needs for people.

Set aside time to pray with your spouse, with a Christian friend, or as a family. Like Bible reading, it’s helpful to make a habit of praying. And praying with other believers helps with consistency, and it cultivates Christ-centered relationship.

Pray together with your small group. Some groups share requests and pray for each other throughout the week. Others set aside a chunk of time to pray during small group itself. Some do a combination of these two. One way or another, seek to make prayer a part of your small groups.

Come to prayer meeting on Sunday mornings at 9:30.