Friday, April 6, 2012

the great opportunity found in pastoral prayer

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

I dearly love the way that the apostle Paul prays. He prays with such precision, fervor, and faith. It makes me feel like I am spiritually dysfunctional. I want to strive to pray like this, more and more, and the only way that I know to get there is to follow Paul's example and pray his prayers after him.

That is why at times when I am called upon to pray in the assembly of believers at Mill Creek, I often have a Bible with me, open to one of Paul's prayers. There is a unique opportunity in pastoral prayer. All the believers in the worship service are together focusing and (I hope) agreeing with what I am praying and asking of God. And I feel I would be a poor shepherd indeed if I did not pray for God's glory to be displayed in the flock, encouraging them to live obediently and lovingly before God. Paul's prayers keep me centered on what scripture reveals is our deepest need.

For the Thessalonians, Paul prays for God's sanctifying work to define the testimony of that church. And that is something he has mentioned much in his short letter to them. That holiness is to be both internal and external, displayed in spirit, soul, and body. And it is something hinging on both the obedience of the believer and God's powerful sustaining grace.

The goal is also present in the prayer: to be blameless before Christ at His return. And the faith it takes to commit to this is well placed. We can be confident that the God Who calls us to live before Him in this way will not fail us. He is faithful. He will keep us His forever. We must live and pray by that faithful call.

Again... my prayers often fall short of this depth. But when I begin to model them after this example, I am confident my prayers are God centered and meaningful. I am thankful that God teaches me how to pray!

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